What is a Proposal Manager?

When an individual or an organization needs to make a proposal, they turn to an expert in the field: a Proposal Manager, who implements the proposal and contract processes, assigns tasks to be done and makes sure the proposal is relevant and accurate. A lot of the time, this position requires one to work after hours and long days, but some employers offer their employees the possibility and flexibility of working from home, depending on the company and industry.

In a small or a mid-size company, a Proposal Manager can be a stand-alone role, reporting to the Sales or Marketing Director. In a large enterprise, Proposal Managers can report to the Head of Commercial Management or Finance Manager, and work in a more collaborative team environment.

 

Proposal Manager Duties and Responsibilities

A Proposal Manager’s core duty is to ensure that the all of the company’s proposals are fully executed from start to finish. This involves coordinating the proposal process, preparing the actual proposals and presenting them to clients. Proposal Managers often work on tight deadlines, and have to delegate tasks required to complete a proposal, such as writing, editing and other efforts associated with the process. We looked at job postings to identify the following additional Proposal Manager duties and responsibilities.

Complete Requests for Proposals

Once a Request for Proposal (RFP) is received, the Proposal Manager reads the document, and tries to understand the client’s expectations, deadlines and budget.  The Proposal Manager will take notes and write out questions that they will discuss with the customer before starting on any work. The Proposal Manager will then come up with a plan, outline each stage of the proposal and create a schedule to meet all necessary deadlines. When all is finished, the Proposal Manager will delegate tasks and gather resources and the expertise of other employees to succeed in the proposal process.

Manage Subordinates

A Proposal Manager’s supervision of the project and employees alike is very important to do this job successfully. Proposal Managers guide their team, dispersing information and overseeing the production of all the parts of the proposal, making sure all the aesthetics and written content is on point. A Proposal Manager will review the work of his team, and return the project back with directions for any revisions, making sure everything is up to the standard before presenting it to clients.

Report to Clients

A Proposal Manager often visits the client to discuss their needs and any issues, ongoing processes, as well attend necessary meetings. This professional also takes part in finalizing and implementing the contract and negotiating final agreements with the customers, making sure they are happy with the proposal, as well as the completed job.

 

Proposal Manager Skills

A Proposal Manager must be extremely organized and have excellent writing skills. They must also be able to supervise and train supporting staff, prepare presentations and schedule meetings with clients to discuss and negotiate proposal details and timelines.

Core skills: Job listings for Proposal Managers sought out individuals with the following basic skills:

  • Ability to deliver compliant, professionally produced proposals within customer agreed upon timeframes
  • Coordinate and edit proposal input from a variety
  • Strong time management skills
  • Strong written English language skills

Advanced skills: These advanced skills can help you excel in the industry:

  • Able to communicate at a senior level
  • Ability to coach sales teams and subject matter experts in persuasive writing
  • Document template management
  • Driving subject matter experts to produce winning content

Tools of the Trade: Learn how to utilize the following tools that are typically used by Proposal Managers:

  • Microsoft Office
  • Email applications, such as Outlook
  • Personal computers
  • Client specific web resources

 

Production Q & A

Carol Gee, an expert in grant writing who works at Atlanta University’s School Of Public Health, gave us her insight into what it takes to work as a Proposal Manager.

What are some of the core duties performed by a Proposal Manager?

My duties included helping to identify applicable grants. Once they were identified, I researched the particulars of the grants, which included budgets, appendices, if any, miscellaneous graphics, proposal deadlines and other logistic or delivery mechanisms.

What challenges does this position face?

If the proposals involve multiple writers or a team of individuals working on the proposal, a critical issue is getting everyone involved on the same page when it comes to individual contributions or deadlines for their portion of the work

What skills does this position use most?

Patience. Then the ability to work with various stakeholders. Proposal Managers should be extremely detail oriented and a stickler for following proposal requirements, not only when preparing the proposal, submitting the proposal but also throughout the life of the proposal. For example, certain proposals do allow for meals for participants in the study. So other funds should be available for say meeting luncheons, coffee or any conference or meeting meals during the life of the proposal. Failure to adhere to certain rules and regulations could result in the proposal being terminated.

What should someone consider before becoming a Proposal Manager?

Whether constantly monitoring budgets or being the gatekeeper of multiple proposals simultaneously, is something they really want to do. As my department had a number of different proposals from different funding sources at the same time, managing them could be stressful at times.

What type of person is successful in this job?

Someone who is detail oriented, likes working with others, is able to motivate team members and other stakeholders involved in the proposal. One of my first tasks as a Proposal Manager was establish a calendar of when proposals were due. Then I worked with others to ensure that items that could be done such as the budgets and accompanying graphics was done ahead of the actual writing. This helped resolved last minute stresses.

What do you find to be the most rewarding about this position?

I am extremely organized and detailed oriented, so I thrived on the work. One of the proposals that I managed was identifying environmental triggers of asthma in inner city children. As my younger sister had asthma when we were growing up I knew what kids with asthma went through: wheezing, scared to go to sleep at night because problems breathing, etc. so when I managed this proposal where I hired graduate students to work as data gatherers, volunteers who helped with interviewing parents and children, to the hiring of community health workers who lived in the communities we served who went into homes and identified the triggers. Being able to hire these women and giving them jobs where they served the communities where they lived gave us all much satisfaction.

 

Proposal Manager Salary

Managers, a category that includes Proposal Managers, earn a median yearly salary of $104,900. Those in the 10th percentile make $53,900, while those in the 90th percentile can make up to $169,900 and beyond. If relocating is an option, The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the District of Columbia, Virginia and Delaware offer the highest yearly salaries – at $128,000, $121,600 and $121,600, respectively.

 

Proposal Manager Resources

Do you want to learn more about working as a Proposal Manager? The links below are excellent resources to help you get started:

On the Web

Visible Tread Blog – Details about news and conferences in the Proposal industry.

APMP Blog The Association of Record for Bid, Proposal, Business Development, Capture, and Graphics Professionals

Trident Proposal Management – Learn to be a better Proposal Manager and excel in your industry with the help of this source.

On Linked In

Bid Proposal Management – A group and forum for professionals to keep in touch and exchange information

Clinical Development Proposal Managers & Developers – Sharing experiences, challenges and learn best practices for professionals

Books

Writing Business Bids & Proposals for Dummies by Neil Cobb and Charlie Divine –  This book helps to acquire skills to develop winning business proposals.

Handbook For Writing Proposals by Robert J. Hamper – Proven techniques and invaluable advice for writing winning business proposals.

 

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