We continue to explore what you and the public think about proposal writing. Last week, we asked proposal authors what they think is the most important part of a proposal. This week we dug a little deeper and asked around a hundred proposalers what emotion or emotions you associate with the often roller coaster process of penning a purposeful proposal.
The prevailing emotion is hope. Hope to make money. Hope to represent your brand well. Hope you expressed your service or product clearly and concisely. Hope to maintain a client relationship. Hope to gain a new one. It seems Obama got it right during his last campaign, marketing “hope” to the public — after all, agree with him or not, he did get a Nobel Prize for the message! And that’s what’s driving you, too!
Now, let’s see what other emotions drive or derail our proposal writing processes!
As one respondent said, “Hope generally springs eternal” and it’s definitely the first and last thing we’re feeling as we put our efforts into drafting a proposal. And you have to have hope because, as hard as you work, there are a lot of human and budgeting factors into the proposal process and that means so much of it is out of your hands. But, while hope is a strong motivator, it’s not the only thing that gets us out of bed in the morning to sit in front of a computer to write that winning proposal.
E-life’s dictionary Wikipedia defines work motivation as “a set of energetic forces that originate both within as well as beyond an individual’s being, to initiate work-related behavior, and to determine its form, direction, intensity, and duration.”
In other words, like writing a book or having a baby, proposal writing is a truly personal and emotional process that pushes us in the right direction for the long haul. We are motivated by money and the desire to grow our businesses, of course, but we are also motivated by the whole creative and organizational process. And with a serious deadline, the roller coaster of emotions rushes quickly by with unique twists, turns and loops with every different proposal project.
Just taking one look at our attempt to graph the intangible shows us that, while hope and stress prevail, a whole other range of emotions take us on the ride to well-written proposals.
Unlike Super Mario, proposal writing isn’t something that you can master and redo, it’s a constant learning process. As capture management consultant Steve says “I always learn something new about everyone around me,” which explains why so many people added their own category of “excitement” into the mix. Call us nerdy or unconventional job lovers, but this is why most proposal writers love their jobs (most of the time.)
Government acquisition writer Tom falls under the optimist category saying “I enjoy defining the theme and strategy and then the frantic pace of execution — and the win makes it all worthwhile.” Like a jigsaw puzzle competition, the thrill of organization is all about defining the particular pieces for the particular project under rather extreme time constraints. And a successfully signed proposal is, of course, the motivational icing on the cake.
Everyone seems to enjoy the challenge of writing a rockstar proposal. There’s a certain thrill that comes with that burst of creativity followed by the determination to convince your client or potential client of how worthy your business/service/product is.
Of course, the responses to the poll definitely saw a battle between those that feel calmness and those that feel bursts of frustration. After all, there’s always a rapidly approaching deadline in this marketplace. However, not many seemed to jump on the train at Procrastination Station, saying they never have time even to put things off. There’s something super autonomous about proposal writing where the process and the hope for success is enough drive to focus and get things done and done well.
Keeping it real and giving us solid advice, construction and project manager Terrance reminds us that to be successful, you also have to get a little greedy. “You have to go for everything — greed follows controlled success, be aggressive, people in the back seat never ever drive.”
No matter what, after the roller coaster ride of emotions, we all share the feeling of satisfaction of finishing it, as well as the hope of being accepted.
Federal proposal manager Ellen summed it up best:
When I work on a proposal, I feel like I pulled my heart out of my chest and put it on the table to be pounded. I’m Hopeful. I’m Positive. I’m Vulnerable. I’m Prepared for the Worst. I’m hoping for the best. But, I’m not really worried about how I feel because this is the rollercoaster I live on every single day — it’s managing my customer/the owner’s/the sales executive’s/the PM’s feelings throughout the process — that takes a lot of my energy.
So, what are you waiting for? Let’s pour this awesome passion into increasing your winning rates!
What emotion do YOU feel?
Photos courtesy of phenom Fotolia!