The Ideal Proposal Consultant

What is an ideal proposal consultant? In short, the ideal proposal consultant combines their expertise with the following 4 traits to provide high-quality deliverables to their clients.

1) Communicative

Perhaps the most important trait for a consultant is to communicate clearly and routinely. Equally as important, consultants must set clear expectations – not only in regards to the scope of work, timeline and fees – but also as it applies to communication styles. Consultants should clarify their client’s preferred method of communication and respond promptly (as should the client). Best practice is to respond to any communication within 24 hours, even if merely to say “I received your email and will get back with you later this week”.

Consultants usually manage their own time. Thus, they must facilitate regular communication with their clients to provide updates on progress, setbacks, or changes to the scope. In addition, consultants should keep their client updated on how much time they are spending on which aspects of the proposal during hourly consulting projects. We recommend weekly check-ins or weekly project breakdowns for most projects.

Occasionally, it may be necessary or the client may request additions to the scope of work after the project has begun. A good consultant must be prepared to discuss how this will affect the project timeline and budget with the client before agreeing to the expanded scope.

2) Detail-Oriented

Proposals are big-picture documents comprised of countless minute details. Many consultants are only concerned with the proposal’s overall story, look, and feel. However, a good proposal consultant will also take the time to analyze the finer points that create a polished proposal.

Details such as grammar, punctuation, spelling, consistency in verb tense and voice, or keeping track of acronyms may not seem like a huge deal in the long run, but will transform the final proposal.  If you do not have an editor on your team, look for a consultant who specializes in editing and finalizing documents.

3) Compliant and Responsive

A winning proposal is both compliant and responsive. Compliance requires the proposal to meet all explicitly stated requirements in the solicitation; while responsiveness goes the extra step to create a customer-focused and persuasive document.

A good proposal consultant will know how to:

  • Unite compliance and responsiveness;
  • Serve the unique needs of each client; and
  • Organize a plan to meet both.

4) Creative Within Constraints

Proposals are full of rules and regulations. These constraints can be overwhelming and result in bland, uninspiring documents. A good proposal consultant will take these constraints and find a way to create a visually compelling, well-organized, customer-focused document. A compliant yet creative use of space, color, and graphics will grab the reader’s attention and help deliver your content with distinction.

5) Passionate

Lastly, but certainly not least, the ideal proposal consultant is passionate. A good proposal consultant finds satisfaction in a job well-done, despite the long hours and ever-evolving project demands. They understand what goes into a proposal effort and know how to keep the team on track and motivated.

We at Once Upon an RFP know how tricky it can be to find the ideal proposal consultant. For your next project, reach out to us at so we can pair you with a consultant who best fits your needs.

Photo by Daniel Thomas on Unsplash

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