Consultant Spotlight: Rob Marks

Favorite part of being a consultant?

I really enjoy the diversity – of the projects, the clients, the people, the customers, the technologies, the products, the services. There’s always something new to learn and people to meet. I’m a social guy, so working with and being a part of a lot of teams is fun for me.

What is the secret to managing a successful proposal?

To me, a successfully managed proposal is one that delivers a compliant, compelling submission on time, without resorting to crazy, last minute scrambling and insane late night/early morning/all weekend hours. It may sound simple and obvious, but the easiest way to accomplish this is through clear and respectful communication. It’s important to ensure everyone on the team knows, understands, and accepts their role, and have bought in to the schedule and deadlines. Additionally, good communication among the team identifies red flags and potentially missed deadlines before they become an issue, so schedules can be reworked and/or Plan Bs can be developed and instituted before things go awry.

Any tips for writing a winning proposal?

Beyond the basics of always focusing on meeting the requirements and strongly addressing the Section M Evaluation Criteria, I recommend continually asking yourself and your team throughout the content development process, “How will this solution help the customer achieve their goals?” It’s so easy to focus on your product or service, and write about how great it is. But if you’re not able to tangibly illustrate how your solution would be great for them, then you’re just another company who meets the specs. To stand out, show your customers you understand and have addressed their needs better than the other guy.

Biggest proposal pet peeve?

Unnecessary, last minute, overnight scrambling. Of course, any proposal manager who has been around the block a few times has had last minute changes and updates come up beyond their control, forcing an overnight work session or two to meet the deadline. But many of these could be averted if only for proper planning and communication. It’s the latter that can drive me crazy.

Where was your last vacation and what was the highlight of the trip?

Puerto Rico last June, before the hurricane. Highlight was getting to hang out with an old college buddy and his family, and introduce him to my wife and son.

Do you have any hidden talents?

I’m a former producer of a traveling comedy theatre troupe. Of course, my comic talent has remained hidden for so long that I’m now a proposal management consultant.

If you could meet anyone in the world (dead or alive) who would it be and why?

Mel Brooks and/or Carl Reiner. Ideally, the both of them where I could just sit back, watch, listen, and laugh like crazy.