Why Companies Should Hire Proposal Consultants…When Necessary

Many companies can benefit from using veteran proposal consultants.  However, hiring a consultant is never easy and involves certain predictable risks.  Nevertheless, there are steps you can take to get the best from your proposal consultants.

As Chris Simmons, the founder and president of Rainmakerz Consulting, points out, there are four principal reasons companies give for not hiring consultants.  I will briefly state them and then explain how you might respond to these objections.

Objection 1:  Consultants cost too much money.

Response:  For large companies, consultant hourly rates should not be too high.  But for small ones, proposal budgets are modest and so consultants might seem very expensive.  One economical response might be to hire consultants to do discrete, carefully defined tasks that the company cannot do well, such as proposal theme development or graphics development.

Objection 2:  Consultants do not fit into our corporate culture.

Response:  Companies often have an exaggerated sense of the uniqueness of their corporate cultures, but it may be true that consultants will not fit into a company’s proposal efforts.  There are several steps companies can take to choose consultants who will be a good fit:

  • Interview candidates thoroughly.
  • Define tasks and responsibilities clearly.
  • Provide consultants with plenty of friendly and helpful advice.
  • Strongly and visibly support the consultant on the proposal team.

Objection 3:  Consultants might give away our secrets.

Response:  Sometimes, companies are afraid that consultants might share their knowledge with competitors.  Most consultants are very experienced in working with different clients.  They understand and value confidentiality and are highly ethical people.  Nevertheless, there are two approaches you can take to ensure confidentiality:

  • Ask the consultant to sign a non-disclosure agreement.
  • Ask the consultant about best practices in other companies.  If the candidate is too specific about the inner workings of other companies, you should consider searching for a different kind of consultant.

Objection 4:  It takes too much time and energy to find a good consultant.

Response:  You should take the following steps to streamline the process for identifying qualified consultants:

  • Develop a network of colleagues who can recommend highly qualified consultants.
  • Become active in professionals organizations like the Association of Proposal management Professionals (APMP), where you can meet plenty of highly qualified consultants.

We all use consultants for their specialized expertise.  I do not do my own taxes but you a trusted accountant.  You should do the same.  As Simmons suggests, use consultants when they can help you submit highly competitive proposals.  It is a very good investment in your company’s future.

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