In our initial article on this topic, we turned the question around – focusing on how we as Proposal professionals can first evaluate and manage our own efforts to better assist our SMEs. ‘Be a Servant First’ is the strategy where we ask how we can be of assistance before we ask for help from others.
Another important factor in developing relationships is the individuals themselves. So who are they? How are your Subject Matter Experts selected, and how do they know they are part of the team?
HELP WANTED: Proposal Team Seeks Executive Sponsorship:
How are SMEs identified in your company? Is it a process of nomination? Is it the Director/Manager of each Department until he/she delegates to someone else? And do you find people intentionally taking the business equivalent of ‘2-giant-steps-back’ when a new SME needs to be identified to replace a previous team member?
Regardless of the method, it is critical the identified team of SMEs understand the purpose of the mission AND that it is sponsored and endorsed from all levels of your company.
This can be a C-level individual or Vice President (depending on how titles are structured at your firm). Often someone who oversees Sales or even the CEO is a great choice since the Proposal process directly impacts new business acquisition and existing business retention.
- Participation Expectations: The Executive Sponsor should be included on all team communications you send, and should regularly attend team meetings as well. Showing the face and the name is a good reminder of the eyes on the effort.
- Leadership & Visibility: When it is time to add a new name to your SME roster, the Executive Sponsor should reach out to the new SME directly to describe the importance of the effort. Starting off in this way can help reinforce the importance of your future and ongoing requests.
Do you have Executive Sponsorship ideas for your Proposal team? Stay tuned for more SME tips in this important series!