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Expert insights for bid, proposal, sales, GovCon, capture, marketing, and business development pros.

Champion Insights | Bids and Proposals with Karthik Koutharapu, CP APMP

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How long have you been working in Bids and Proposals?  7.7 years

What most inspires you about your role in Bids and Proposals?

It’s motivating to be a proposal professional as it enables you to solve the client problems by understanding the hot buttons, prepare for client touchpoints as your team pitches for new business. For me, every proposal is an opportunity to address the client’s implicit needs and long-range opportunities. Proposal professionals are the unsung heroes as ‘it takes a village’ to submit a compelling proposal!

What most inspires you about the other Bid and Proposal professionals you have come to know over the years?

I am fortunate to have met several industry stalwarts during my association with APMP and pick their wisdom. What inspires me most is the way each one of them are passionate about proposals and contributing to the best practices in managing bids on a frequent basis.

It is an amazing time for the proposal management practice with a lot of tools and industry experts coming to support the best practices which will improve proposal quality, turn around time, and win rates along with the productivity of proposal professionals.

Also, it’s amazing that proposal professionals come from diverse backgrounds and need not necessarily come with bachelors in technology or writing always.

What tactics and strategies have you leveraged to be successful so far in your current role?

I always believed in the following strategies for a competitive proposal:

• Proposals should tell a compelling story that sets the tone for the work ahead by weaving content into a clear, consistent, and personalized story.

• Every proposal process should involve a number of distinct interactions with the client.
To be successful, it’s important to know both where your client is today and where you need them to be.

• The proposal process is competition from beginning to end—from the moment you first engage the client through to their final decision. So capture practice should be at the top of this game!

What is something you wish others understood about the importance of Bids and Proposals in today’s market?

It would be beneficial for capture practices to have more competitive intelligence or be more involved in the creating of an RFP prior to the release in the following ways:

• Engaging with a client early and closing gaps in understanding are very crucial.

• Every interaction with your client is an opportunity to learn more about how they see the world, what they aspire to, what keeps them up at night and where they need the most guidance and engagement.

• The more you know about these coordinates, the better you’re able to engage clients where they currently are, and focus the conversation where they need the most help to see things differently and believe in new possibilities.

• At the end of the day, every proposal professional should have the right to be involved in the qualification of opportunities (bid/no-bid decisions) as part of their bill of rights!

• There are several tool kits like Bid Score to leverage, to make these efficient and qualitative decisions.

What advice do you have for your peers in similar roles around the world?

Conducting an RFP is like preparing a meal, and proposal managers are the master chefs for that meal. It is important to realize that the desired outcome depends on the optimum mix of ingredients, seasoning, and preparation. The tools available today might be one of the key ingredients in the future. There are many tools to choose from and pick, so your meal preparation might look differently, and it will be your decision if you want to go for fast food or a gourmet meal.

Proposal Management can be really stressful, there will be some hard days, with some stringent timelines and decisions not going our way! It is important to keep motivated all the time as Bid/Proposal manager(s) are the bridge that connects the entire task force of each deal.

Always be #PassionateAboutProposals #ReThinkProposalBestPractices 🙂