Pick the Right Reviewers and Act on Their Suggestions

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The title says it all really. The data shows organisations that properly review their proposals tend to win more. It is also clear that to properly review a proposal, the reviewers must be the right people who have been briefed on what is expected of them.

How do we put this into practice? Set a date for each review as part of the proposal planning process and ensure the appropriate content is ready on those dates. It is good practice to ask reviewers to review in parallel, comparing their views on improvement suggestions and gaining consensus before providing their feedback to the team.

Invite the right people to be your reviewers. Get their agreement to participate in the review. If there is content about project management, ask an experienced project manager to review that content. If there is a commercial section, ask a person who understands the customer’s commercial world to review that content.

Senior people in organisations often invite themselves to reviews because they want to approve material that is being submitted. That is not the purpose of a review. A reviewer should be in the mindset of improving the content, not approving it.

Before the review, give the reviewers an indication of what is expected of them. Brief them on the customer’s expectations, the scoring system, your proposal strategies (including planned ghosting of the competition) and any other relevant aspects of the proposal.

At the start of the review remind the reviewers that you are asking for their help, not criticism. It is not a reviewer’s responsibility to check grammar or spelling or to decide whether what you have written tells a story. That is your responsibility and should already have happened before the review. The reviewers should suggest improvements that might result in scoring five out of five instead of a four or a three out of five. Over and above that, they should suggest improvements in the way proposal strategies are implemented.

If you ask a reviewer for suggestions, respect their views. If a reviewer suggests an improvement, make the improvement in the way that they suggest. Get the right person and you will get the right feedback.

This article was written by Tony Birch.

Tony Birch is the founder and current Chairman of Shipley Limited in the UK. Tony served on the main board of the APMP for four years and was elected a Fellow of the organisation in 2006, for his work in developing and launching the APMP’s Certification Programme. Since founding Shipley, Tony has trained thousands of sales and bid professionals around the world.

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