One of the problems I have noticed with many of the firms we work with is that they don’t win nearly as many proposals as they could.
Some recognize this as a problem… but many don’t think much about it.
What keeps most technical consulting firms from winning more business? While many will point to competition or market conditions, I’d argue that the key factors are internal. Here are the three most common reasons firms aren’t winning more business:
Consulting firms don’t make the time to pursue more business
Time is the most critical resource of consulting firms and investing unbillable time chasing business can be a major challenge. Gaining time back while maintaining or increasing utilization is the holy grail in consulting.
While I obviously think the answer to gaining time back lies – in big part – in using a proper software solution, process is a big part of that too. In fact, software is the tool that both facilitates and enforces following adequate processes.
By designing processes that drive efficiency and leveraging software to manage and improve your processes you can gain efficiency – you can get A LOT of time back. This is one of the primary focuses that drives the vision for our software and I will spend a lot of time discussing this in future posts.
Proposals are of poor quality
We see lots of challenges with proposals, from the form of the proposal (your old Microsoft Word template might look outdated and clumsy) to a lack of detail (proposals with more details generally win more business).
The biggest factor isn’t in the proposal itself but the follow up and focusing on the importance of the relationship with whom you’ve made the proposal. In addition to taking the time and energy to improve on the quality of proposals, taking the time to manage the relationship and follow up is of critical importance. The activities and the process of following up needs to be managed and tracked like any other.
Firms don’t track their proposal win/loss ratio
Most firms I talk to are focused simply on determining how much business is coming in to maintain their current business flow. They don’t track the ratio in which they win new business in an effort to focus on improvement – and as a result are missing out on growing their business.
As a starting point, I recommend using a simple spreadsheet. Every proposal that is made gets entered with some basic information: who, when, the time invested and a subjective assessment of whether it as a good or bad proposal. Then, use this simple formula to keep track of the ratio on a monthly basis.
My advice is: make it your number one priority to make more time, for you, and for your team. Every other action will be easy once you achieve that.