Federal proposal writing is misunderstood, frustrating, expensive, and demoralizing. You must have an experienced federal proposal writer (commercial experience doesn’t count), hire someone with experience, or use an outside service.
Most federal insiders consider proposal writing the Achilles heel of the business but know how to play the game and keep their proposal costs within reason.
Secret 1 for newcomers: Don’t write proposals for customers to whom you haven’t sold, or at a minimum, who at least know who you are. Bidding opportunities galore may appear wide-open to all, but invariably they have already been pre-sold by one or more companies well before the opportunity becomes publicly announced.
Secret 2: Some federal contracting officials may imply to newcomers that pre-selling is “naughty” when in fact it is encouraged by federal regulation. How could they buy things without knowing what they are buying? Do you buy software without knowing what you are buying and its value way before you spend the money?
Secret 3: Requests for Proposal (RFPs) are made purposely complex to justify contract awards to aggrieved losers, federal auditors, or the public and press, if they ask.