What’s Really Driving Your Proposal Budget?

In general (and based on 20+ years in the industry as BD directors and consultants), the expected cost for any proposal development effort is between 1-3% of the contract value. The two biggest factors driving this cost—every single time—are the size of your proposal and how much relevant content you have available.

These two variables form the foundation for determining cost and allow you to set a realistic time commitment upfront for each proposal to avoid finding yourself in a time crunch. For example, let’s say you have a very small, but super complex proposal due in two weeks. You have no starting content whatsoever and your proposal manager is already working on another opportunity. With an abbreviated timeline and minimal access to internal writing and development support, this proposal might cost you as much as a large proposal with lots of existing content. Using the heatmap below, quickly gut-check how much your investment could be. Is your proposal small, medium, large, or very large? How much content do you have (or need)?


The amount of content you have plus the size of your proposal gives you a good idea of the investment needed.

Once you have a big-picture understanding of the RFP, then you can start assigning labor to these factors from the standpoint of how many days, pages, graphics, revisions, meetings, supplies, and so on, are needed. Finally, don’t forget to layer the nature of the proposal into the equation. A proposal that’s very technical in nature and heavy in jargon, acronyms, and keyword compliance takes more time than a routine task order on an established contract vehicle. One large benefit of working with a consultant like WinBiz, is that our infrastructure, tools, and repeatable processes create efficiencies and provide clients with cost savings over time. For example, once we’ve fixed the management approach for the first proposal, we can invest that time on expanding discriminators and win themes.

Need help estimating your next bid? Reach out. We’re here to help you win more with stronger and easier proposals.