In this episode, I talk to Matt Handal, a proposal expert and author of the book called “Proposal Development Secrets: Win More, Work Smarter, and Get Home on Time,” about proposal writing for engineers. He share some great tips that you can use as a working engineer to get better at this process.
Here Are Some of the Questions We Ask Matt:
- What led you to write the book “Proposal Development Secrets: Win More, Work Smarter, and Get Home on Time”?
- How should you work with the marketing staff or other people who help put proposals together?
- What if you have too much billable work to engage with a proposal effort?
- How can engineers make their lives easier when writing proposals?
- What is the biggest mistake found in technical approaches?
- What is it like to be on an evaluation committee for a civil engineering contract?
- Do you have any final advice for civil engineers out there?
Here Are Some Key Points Discussed in This Episode About Proposal Writing:
- Matt wrote the book, “Proposal Development Secrets,” because he saw a problem with proposal writing in the engineering industry, and he wanted to help solve this problem. Proposal writers were overworked and working on holidays and late at night.
- You do not learn about proposal writing in engineering school. At some point in your civil engineering career, you will be asked to write a proposal that could win a contract for the company. Putting engineers who have no marketing experience in this position can be unfair. The marketing team was also not taught how to respond to an RFP (request for proposal). This often makes proposals a painful experience. Engineers and marketers are put into the same boat, when engineers should really be the marketers’ advocates, which can be achieved by arranging training for them, taking them on site visits, and listening to them when they do not agree on something. Give the marketing team more responsibility by allowing them to write the first version of the cover letter. You must help them to help you. Engineers and marketers must help each other to be accountable to things like their deadlines.
- If you are asked to write a proposal but have too much billable work, you cannot assume that other people know and understand your commitments and workload. You must communicate your commitments and workload and suggest other alternatives. It is better to let them know when the RFP lands on your desk, not the day before the deadline or not even deliver it. Always ask for help when you need it. Remember that if you want to progress in your career quicker, you must get good at winning work for the company.
- Civil engineers can make their proposal writing easier by asking senior management for proposal writing training for both the marketing team and engineers. Understand that there is a difference between what you can do and what you can win. Engineers must pursue contracts that they can win. You must get a “go / no go” system in place to know if you stand a reasonable chance to win the contracts before writing the proposal.
- The biggest mistake found in technical approaches to proposals is that they are devoid of a technical approach. The technical approach is often unknowingly replaced by the scope of work and many promises. A technical approach should be comprised of how you are going to do the work, why you are going to do it that way, and what the benefit is to the client.
- Being on an evaluation committee for a civil engineering contract can be an eye-opening experience. You will find that some of the things that you thought were important are not as important and vice versa. You will get an insight into how you would evaluate the proposals if you were on a selection committee.
- Civil engineers can contact Matt if they have any questions, and he will provide advice where he can.
More Details in This Episode…
About Matt Handal
Matt Handal, a proposal expert and author of the book called “Proposal Development Secrets: Win More, Work Smarter, and Get Home on Time,” provides marketing and business development strategies that work. He has helped firms 10X their proposal results and realize significant growth. He is the Former Contributing Editor of SMPS Marketer and leads the Construction Owners Association of America’s Communication Committee. He has appeared in Engineering News Record, The Architect’s Handbook for Professional Practice, and other industry publications.
Books Mentioned in This Episode:
We would love to hear any questions you might have or stories you can share on what you think civil engineers need to know about proposal writing.
Please leave your comments, feedback, or questions in the section below.
To your success,
Anthony Fasano, P.E., LEED AP
Engineering Management Institute
Author of Engineer Your Own Success