In proposals, a critical component of selling your solution is proof. “Prove it” is a catchcry of Shipley consultants when we work with our clients on proposals. But why is proof important?
When we look at a typical hierarchy of trust, anyone who is selling something starts at the bottom. Buyers are inherently cautious or sceptical of what the seller has to say, because the seller has a vested interest. Proof helps to break down that scepticism and build trust.
We can borrow trust by getting testimonial support from our prospect’s peers.
We can earn trust through experience and performance.
We can acquire trust by seeking third-party certification of our capability.
If we use a construction contractor as an example, you would trust a contractor if they had:
- solid testimonials from previous clients
- lots of experience building projects like yours
- certifications such as ISO9001 Certification, accreditation from the Master Builders Association and a licence with the relevant Building Authority.
If they had none of the above, you would (and should) steer clear!
The same applies to professionals in any industry.
We borrow trust with referees. Most job applicants will be asked to provide a referee when applying. This is a way for employers to gain confidence in their decisions.
The way we earn trust is also very similar to how businesses do. The more experience we have, the more employers are confident that we can do the job.
We acquire trust through our qualifications. In some jobs, this is clear. A tier 1 management consulting firm will want you to have an MBA from a leading university. An engineering business will want you to have an engineering degree.
But what do employers of Proposal and BD professionals want?
This is a trickier question. There is no Bachelor’s degree in Proposals. You can’t acquire a Masters in Business Development (as far as this author is aware). But you can achieve accreditation.
Currently, the APMP offers three tiers of accreditation:
These are good – if you are a proposal manager. They are a broad brush applied to an industry that has many different roles with specific responsibilities. In recognition of this, the APMP now offer a Capture Practitioner accreditation, but there are still significant gaps.
By far the most prolific role in proposal teams is the writer. The sheer volume of writing on major bids creates a need for many skilled writers. But there is nothing available for the industry’s highly capable writers to distinguish themselves from the rest. There is also no accreditation pathway to motivate professional development for the writers who are working their way up through the ranks.
The same can be said about most roles within the work-winning industry. Capture planners, strategy professionals, BD and Sales leaders are all in need of relevant accreditation.
What the industry needs is a series of role-based accreditation programs, designed and issued by a reputable organisation that has been the custodian of industry best-practice in work winning for nearly 50 years.
Watch this space…