Continuing our series, we now turn our attention toward the education of the SME team. Some of your SMEs will likely be familiar with RFPs and proposals, but others may not. Have you ever thought about whether each SME truly knows the process and the purpose of the proposal effort? Here is your chance to share it AND gain some good publicity at the same time. When you come to an SME with a new request (and a new deadline), you may see a myriad of emotions shifting behind their eyes – wonder, anxiety, fear and possibly amusement – remember, you look excited about what you are requesting and this reaction to RFPs could be mystifying to others. Perhaps it is time to share your enthusiasm with the team.
Many companies have a Sales Kickoff meeting to frame the year, announce goals and rally the troops. Why not take a page from this playbook and have one for the SME team? This involves gathering the full team of SMEs for some dedicated team-building and instructional time. Of course, this meeting will likely not take place in Las Vegas or in a lavish locale, but it can still serve to inform and invigorate your team. Here are some ideas for you as the Team Captain:
- Manage the Game Clock – determine what works best at your company culturally and from a scheduling standpoint. If you need to do a deep-dive training with your team, consider whether it is best to spread it out over several meetings or set aside a half-day.
- Pass the Ball – there is no need for you to do all of the talking; involve your seasoned SMEs as experts who can help train others. This is a great opportunity for them to share tips as well as to shine in front of peers and management.
- Start/End with a Pep Talk – recalling our last article, make sure this event is attended by and endorsed by senior management; ensure they have a speaking role at some point in the festivities.
- Don’t Play on an Empty Stomach– any event that serves food will be better attended. Suit the meal or refreshments to the meeting time (breakfast, lunch or snacks).
- Hire a Coach– there are very good proposal consultants available to assist your team in growing professionally, strategically and procedurally; leverage them at the right times.
Investing in your team will payoff for each bid to come. Consider getting some time on the Sales Team’s agenda to explain your process as well. Communication really can go a long way!