The Best-kept Career Secret: Sales Proposal Writing
Originally published by SellingPower | 5/3/2017
by Lewie Miller, Qvidian CEO
Upon college graduation, accepting a position as a member of a proposal writing team doesn’t usually come to mind as one’s “dream job.” In an age where the workforce reports “having a meaningful impact on the world” as a number one job priority, sales and marketing teams are often scrambling to nab top talent to join their teams.
What many new job seekers don’t realize is that the RFP/proposal writer role is unique from many other entry-level positions, and one to strongly consider when beginning the search. Notably, it gives the employee a 360-degree view of a company’s business, products, and services – while also allowing them to hone writing and communication skills. This makes it a valuable first job that not only builds skills vital to business success; it also is a rewarding long-term career.
Here are the top benefits job searchers should consider.
You’ll quickly become a company and industry expert. Thanks to the nature of the job, in a short time proposal writers learn more about their organization and industry than those who spend years in their roles. Proposal team members are responsible for working with subject matter experts (SMEs) across the organization to gather the most relevant and up-to-date information to include in RFPs and proposals. As a result, they are exposed to the most current content on company products and services, allowing them to gain expertise in these areas over time.
Once individuals have mastered the skill of gathering, organizing, and synthesizing content, their role often evolves into something meatier and they are tasked with developing material, including writing and approving SME content – a starting point to a long, meaningful career in proposal writing. College graduates who studied communications or journalism experience continued success in this role as they have the unique ability to rework or rewrite content in a way that’s persuasive – and accurately position the company in the market. Proposal team experience can also lead to opportunities in different areas of the organization as the writing and communication skills these employees gain are valuable in any role or department.
Right off the bat, you will get face time with senior management. Not only are proposal writers in close touch with SMEs across the organization, they also have direct access to VP- and director-level executives who are also involved in the RFP process – opening up the door for a number of opportunities. For example, a junior proposal writer has the unique opportunity to build relationships and prove his worth to the decision makers at his company while his peers at other organizations might be stuck in entry-level jobs without any access to the executive team. This type of visibility opens doors down the line for the proposal writer to take on other roles within the organization in a variety of departments.
Your work will have a significant impact on the organization’s bottom line. It is rare in an entry-level position to contribute to an organization’s bottom line, but proposal team members are knee-deep in creating the documents critical to winning multi-million-dollar deals, which can lead to higher job satisfaction and inspire individuals to continue long careers in this role.
Other times, proposal team members choose different career paths. For example, Ryan Halliday, a project manager at Qvidian, is a former proposal manager for a financial services firm where he worked on multi-million-dollar proposals when his peers at other organizations were working on much less meaningful projects. While Ryan knew he did not want to be a proposal manager for the entirety of his career, he did see the value in staying in the position for more than four years. From there, he was able to take his immense product and customer knowledge to a more senior-level position at Fidelity – as a business integration consultant – and then ultimately become a project manager at Qvidian.
Other employees who start off as proposal team members decide to make a career of it. For example, one Qvidian customer who began as a proposal writer is now the content manager for an entire financial services organization where she is responsible for more than 10,000 records of how the company presents itself to the industry.
It’s both a career path and a career. Company and industry expertise, senior-level face time, and having a hand in driving revenue all translate into setting up proposal managers to succeed in many different roles with a company. While many will – and should – make a career out of proposal writing, after several years in the job employees are well qualified for other roles in marketing, consulting, training, content management, and operations, among others.
Whether looking to build a resume or start a lifelong career, proposal writing is a great position to hold.