This list of ‘best books’ started out as just three, but I’ve decided to keep updating the post as I find new books I think proposal professionals should read. Full disclosure: I added my own book to the list.
Last updated on February 3, 2021.
Secrets of the Selection Committee
By Gary Coover
As the name suggests, Secrets of the Selection Committee is written by someone who has been on many selection committees. In other words, it’s not some pie-in-the-sky dissertation about how the process should work, it’s a real-life account that explains how it actually does work. He finishes up with his “42 secrets” that all sellers should know about selection committees. These secrets, alone, are worth the price of the book. Buy this book.
Persuasive Business Proposals
By Tom Sant
Now in its third edition, Tom’s quintessential handbook on proposal writing should be required reading for all proposal development staff, from part-time proposal writers to proposal managers to SMEs who are drafted into the proposal development process. Buy it, read it, learn from it.
By Robert Cialdini
Everyone who is in the sales or business development profession should read this book, including anyone who writes proposals. If you want to sell stuff, knowing how people makes decisions is an important precursor. It’s vital. Cialdini tells you how people make decisions. Get the book.
New Sales. Simplified.
By Mike Weinberg
I preach to my clients that a sale is typically made in the 12 to 24 months before an RFP is released. If you don’t know what the decision makers care about, if you only know what’s written in an RFP, you don’t know much. In this book, Mike teaches you how to go out and prospect for new business. He teaches you how to reach out to buyers, proactively, so you can start selling at that critical point when buyers are actually making their decisions. And, to be clear, that critical point is long before they issue the RFP.
Please note, as much as I like and respect Mike, and as much as I like this book as a prospecting bible, he and I disagree where it involves RFPs and proposals. Mike sees them as obstacles to avoid. I see them as a reality of life in many markets. Further, I believe that if we embrace the formal procurement process rather than resist it, then we better position ourselves to profit from it.
Despite our difference of opinion, his advice and guidance about prospecting is wicked good, even brilliant. If you’re a proposal writer or manager, or a business owner whose business relies on generating new business through formal procurement processes, buy a copy of this book for the business development staff on your team.
Proposal Best Practices
By David Seibert (me)
OK, I get it, it’s kinda self-serving to include my own book on my list of best proposal books, but hey, it is my blog!
Personally, I like the book because it’s genuine. It’s a ‘how to’ manual that originated in the real-life trenches of deadline-driven proposal adventures and even a few misadventures. It’s filled with lots of practical advice while also including some light-hearted humor along the way. But don’t take my word for it, read what others have to say.
David Seibert is a professional salesperson and consultant for businesses that respond to formal procurements in non-federal markets. Dave publishes a comprehensive curriculum of online, self-paced proposal training classes, delivers onsite and online proposal training programs for dedicated proposal teams, and provides proposal and business development consulting services for businesses that want to improve their win rates.
Dave is founder and president of The Seibert Group, a proposal consulting and training organization serving businesses that sell to other businesses, A/E/C firms, schools, and to state and local governments. Dave authored the popular proposal book, Proposal Best Practices, is active with the Association of Proposal Management Professionals (APMP), and is a member of the APMP Speakers Bureau. You can contact Dave at [email protected].