5 Tips to Consider Before Calling a Proposal Professional

Out of the box, writing responses to federal agency proposals is an activity rife with challenges but ripe with rewards when done well. Long before pen hits paper, it's important to understand the elements of the lettered sections of government solicitations. For example:

  • Section L contains information for formatting, organizing and submitting your proposal.
  • Section M is where the evaluation criteris and scoring systems reside. This is how the Government determines who wins.
  • Section C is where you will find the details of what Government wants you to propose to. Typically referred to as the Statement of Work or Performance Work Statement.

There are other lettered sections to know about as well, but this is just to give you an idea of what's coming.

Recently, during Members' Only Office Hours, we received a number of questions about Proposal Managers and Proposal Writers, and when to contact them for opportunities. This gave us a great opportunity to reach out to one of the many experts in the GovCon Club community to provide answers. So we reached out to Courtney Fairchild, President of Global Services in Washington, DC. Global Services is a Founding Member of GovCon Club and was also a Founding Member of The American Small Business Coalition, the predecessor of GovCon Club, created in 2004. We asked Courtney to share with us, the top 5 things she would urge companies to do prior to contacting a proposal professional about an opportunity.

Here are Courtney's responses:


  1. You should know the customer you are planning to submit a bid to, and you should have a solid business case (backed by business intelligence) for the opportunity you are seeking. 

  2. You should familiarize yourself with proposal best practices and industry standards (e.g. APMP, Shipley, etc.) and ask your proposal professional about their proposal management process. 

  3. You should be able to articulate your working/ or initial  “Why Us?” answer that explains your reasoning for why the Government should chose your company over your competitors.

  4. Most proposal professional will need some lead time to assist you – so if the RFP has been released and you have not communicated with the proposal company about it before the release date, they may not be able to assist you.

  5. Understand that this is a collaborative process.  You will be required to meet deadlines and follow strict schedules (developed ahead of time with you and your proposal professional).  Proposals move on tight timelines and proposal professionals often manage more than one proposal at a time, so procrastination and missed deadlines can create a major risk for your proposal effort.

The recurring theme you might takeaway from these tips is that knowledge and planning ahead are important considerations when venturing into preparing and submitting responses to government solicitations. While a Request For Quotation (RFQ) may offer some reprieve in the area of process over its counterpart, a Request For Proposal (RFP), the knowledge and planning is till vitally important, especially considering the financial commitment in man-hours or invoices paid.


What are your thoughts or questions? Leave a comment below and let us know.

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