A Series of Best Practices: 4 – The Devil’s Advocate

Now that you have your dream team together there are some strategies you can employ to help drive your success.

Most employers have positions such as business development, capture managers, proposal managers, all jobs related or involved in preparing proposals in response to government request-for-proposals (RFPs), but there is one position that is new, a “Devil’s Advocate Contrarian”.

This role does not exist to drive everyone in the office crazy, but instead, their role is to make the proposal team prove their points, to ask questions, to challenge conventional wisdom and to help the team avoid unsubstantiated claims. They’ll poke holes in a weak argument, they think outside of the box in an effort to strengthen the proposal and make it even better.

Think of this role as that of an editor. They will read the proposal identifying the arguments the proposal writers are trying to make in favor of your company winning the contract. Then they’ll fact check or look for ways to argue against the contract. This allows the proposal writers to address those questions or problems in-house rather than last minute with the agency.

The stronger your proposal is the greater chance of success it has against all the other proposals it will be compared to. It is considered a best practice to send out fewer proposals, but of the highest quality. This way you are more likely to win them.

When choosing your contrarian, make sure you find someone with the appropriate analytical skills, outside the box thinking, & excellent communication skills. Communication skills are going to be an important tool so that they can deliver the message to your team in a constructive manner to encourage discussion. Someone who alienates everyone and only causes discord is not going to make the team more productive. Choose wisely and your team will be successful.

So get your opportunity advocate and your devil’s advocate together in a room and just let them go at it. See what comes of it and you might be surprised where your business can go.

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