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Pricing proposal services is not a simple matter—don’t expect a simple answer


Every proposal needs a team to get it done on time with compliant and compelling prose that accurately reflects your understanding of the problem and your proposed solution. You’ll need subject matter experts, writers, a proposal manager (depending on the size of the project, you may need more than one), and a program manager, as well as staff in each department to fill any and all gaps in knowledge. Each individual hire (temporary or permanent) should be seen as more than just a simple game of cutting costs—the hires you make are an investment in both the proposal and your business. Don’t forget that the proposal you submit is a reflection of your company, its quality standards, and its ability to convey a value proposition.


Proposals are not a defined price product, and it is often difficult to predict the number of hours needed to work a complex bid. A proposal manager may bill $80/hour but provide one-tenth of the value that a $165/hour manager does. The $165/hour manager may even provide less value than a higher-rate proposal manager does. Proposal management rates are a function of value: experience with contracting, knowledge of what sells, and ability to think critically. Proposal teams are not a fixed-price item on a menu; shopping around for the right proposal team for your company should be treated as a precious investment that will deliver sustainable results.


When investing in your proposal team, do not simply view the price as an impact to the bottom line—do your research. For example, don’t try to find the cheapest proposal manager on the market. When you are considering a company, consultant, or looking in-house for the job, do some due diligence. After all, you get what you pay for. You may find that you’ll get a lot more value – think about repeatable practices and reusable methodologies – out of a more experienced candidate.

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