The Worst Question to Ask When Working with a Consultant…and what you really should be thinking about

win more rfps with winning content

As leaders, we have a tendency to focus on the bottom line, moving the needle, and getting results. So, naturally, our first question when hiring a consultant tends to be, “What will it cost for you to run this proposal for me.”

But it’s not just a bad question, it’s the single worst question you can ask. Because the answer is always, always, always going to be “it depends.”

Just like when you’re shopping for a mortgage, there are just too many variables that go into calculating the cost developing a compliant proposal. Ask any successful mortgage broker, “what are your rates?” and they will immediately ask a flurry of questions to get an understanding of what size and type of loan you want, your credit score, how much you’re putting down, etc.


Because no one really wants a general rate or range.

This singular question of what it’s going to cost to produce a winning proposal is misleading and doesn’t get to the heart of why you need support from an operation and profitability perspective:

  • Do you need help creating more efficient proposal processes?
  • Are you revising content as an incumbent to upsell new products and services?
  • Do you need clarity and expertise on how to create better pricing models?
  • Are you looking to overhaul your entire content library?
  • Or, are your processes and content in a good place…but you need ongoing supplemental surge support?

You see, time is our most valuable commodity, so the real question you should be asking isn’t how much that it costs—but what you get from that investment.

  • What is one hour of your time worth? To figure this out, think about the value you place on your time and what you would pay to get an hour of your time back.
  • What level of expertise do you need to maximize your time from a support-standpoint? Think of the skills you need more of and what initiatives you need to push forward in order to manifest your vision.

For example, you can do your business taxes yourself by spending your discretionary time outside of work staying current on the latest tax law changes. But should you? It’s much riskier, more stressful, potentially way costlier, and a lousy investment if your time may have been better spent elsewhere (friends, family, and hobbies). It pays to hire someone who is an expert and understands the ins and outs of the law.

Back to proposals.

Running a proposal is not in any company’s core competencies…except for ours. We are experts in proposal management, there’s not a federal acquisitions regulation we’re not familiar with, and we know how to set up compliant outlines and responses. WinBiz strategizes, manages, writes, edits, and designs proposals every day for clients in cyber security, marketing, linguistics, defense, and more. Which means, yes, outside proposal support means real dollars spent that can’t be hidden in uncompensated overtime. But, our clients gain the capacity to focus on their core business, to make it home to dinner, engaged and energized teams, and a better response in the end.

Maximize your team’s talents and unique value propositions and get better, stronger proposals? It’s not too good to be true. While our clients focus on developing a winning solution, we’re focused on creating a winning proposal.

  • We know if content is responsive to goals of RFPs, or if its barely skimming and checking the box.
  • Our graphic designers and desktop publishers know proposal graphics are completely different than corporate marketing collateral and seamlessly translate complex ideas into process flows and abstract concepts.
  • Our writers and editors are fluent with acronyms, win themes, and discriminators. They create compelling and compliant content with brevity, impact, and sense of story.
  • We run a best practice team and schedule based on years of running hundreds of proposals—from the agencies fighting to cure cancer, to the departments protecting our borders; we lead winning proposals for civilian, defense, intel agencies, and many state and local governments. This breadth of experience means we have unique insight into standard proposal inclusions like QA, risk management, and employee compensation plans.

With WinBiz, there are no more all-nighters to work a proposal. No more tired, stressed out staff. No more pulling the executive team off pricing, execution, and teaming to think about resumes and how to get content to fit within page limits. With us, you get more peace of mind, better work-life balance, sleep, and a team that’s ready to put the thought leadership and energy in to secure the deal.