On capture and proposal support...

  • Do you work only in the humanitarian and international development sectors?

    Primarily, yes, as this is the shared background of our entire Bid Boss team. We specialize in working on proposals to funders in the humanitarian and global development landscape, such as USAID, the US Department of State (PRM, DRL, and others), USDA Food for Progress and Food for Education programs, CDC, European Union funders, United Nations and other multilaterals, FCDO and other country-specific bilaterals, the World Bank Group, foundations (major and small family foundations), and corporate social responsibility and shared value funding.

    We serve both non-profit and mission-driven companies or social enterprises seeking funding from any of these sources.

  • What technical or programmatic areas do you support?

    Our team of proposal writers and design facilitation experts represent a range of technical sector areas including agriculture, economic growth, education, entrepreneurship, food security, governance, humanitarian assistance, and health.

    We also have gender equity and social inclusion technical support baked into all of our proposal support, which is designed to mesh with clients’ in-house gender strategy and expertise and respond to donor requirements. Additionally, our team includes monitoring, evaluation, and learning (MEL) specialists who can support the MEL component of your proposal and MEL section writing.

  • What roles can Bid Boss fill on a capture or proposal team?

    In support of capture and proposal efforts for our clients, Bid Boss has stepped in to the following roles:

    • Capture management
    • Competitive analysis
    • Proposal coordination and management
    • Design facilitation
    • Lead technical proposal writing
    • Section proposal writing
    • Back chapter proposal writing
    • Cost proposal advising
    • Leading cost proposal development
    • Developmental and copy editing
    • Funder expert proposal reviews
    • Orals prep and coaching
    • Specialized technical support in MEL, GEYSI, or specific subject matter topics

    Generally, the Bid Boss team supports all capture and proposal team roles outside of technical design leadership or decision making, which we strongly recommend our clients keep in-house due to the potential risks associated with outsourcing decision making.

  • How early in the process should we call you? (i.e., how far in advance do you get booked up?)

    We recommend that you reach out for bid support as soon as you know that you may need support. The sooner that we know, the better. During our busy seasons, we can be booked up three or more months in advance. ​

    Due to the high volume of requests for USAID surge support and our knowledge that investing in capture can increase your likelihood of winning by over 30%, we prioritize supporting USAID bids where the request for support is made before the solicitation is released. Even if you don’t need capture support from us, it helps our team provide the best support possible if we’re able to begin planning with you before a solicitation is live.

    For last minute requests, including those with less than two weeks lead time or those made after a USAID solicitation is released, an urgency premium of up to 30% may be applied to compensate for the necessary changes in consultant schedules.

  • How do you navigate changing timelines?

    We are completely accustomed to the way donor timelines can shift, so we’re always happy to work with you to make a support plan early and adapt it as new information from the donor arises.

    For our clients who want to guarantee the availability of a specific member of our team for a specific opportunity before the solicitation is released, we require a 20% down payment. This allows us to protect that team member's time and guarantee their availability.

  • How are your rates structured?

    Typically we provide surge support at established hourly rates, which vary depending on the expertise of the individual required to fulfill the work request and the nature of the assignments. Our rates are in line with prevailing rates for business development support services ($80-250 per hour). An additional premium (10-30%) may be applied for urgent assignments.

    We do not work based on a performance- or win-based remuneration model, but we do offer a sliding scale option for organizations based in the Global South. We can also work under fixed price contracts, especially for projects where a fixed price model makes the most sense, such as design workshop facilitation, strategy development support, and customized training development.

    As one other option that you may not have considered, when you have a vacant position on your business development team or an extended period in which you will need extra support, we can provide coverage via retainer-based support. This guarantees you a minimum number of hours of support each month to cover any of the daily tasks that would normally be covered by a business development team member.

  • What's your win rate?

    Our win rate sits between 10-20 points above the industry standard of about 30%. So many factors can influence the probability of winning for the individual opportunity you’re considering, though! We’re always here to talk strategy if you’re working to increase your organizational win rate.

  • Will you help us identify funding opportunities?

    While we do provide support for business development strategy development, positioning, landscape research, we do not typically assist with identifying specific funding opportunities. When you do need support at the identification stage, we strongly recommend working with our friends at Connective Impact. Similarly, if you need support understanding how to approach partnership development, including building relationships with funders or private sector partners, Connective Impact is a great resource.

On retainer-based support...

  • What is a retainer and what are the benefits?

    In the simplest terms, a retainer agreement allows your team to pre-pay for a set number of consulting hours in advance. We are able to guarantee our availability and provide a wide range of services to your team at an agreed rate over a set period of time.

    A retainer agreement offers a few concrete advantages:

    • You have our guaranteed availability for a set number of hours each month.
    • You can budget your monthly expenses based on the retainer rate.
    • Longer-term support means we can get to know your systems and processes.
    • Our retainer clients take priority over other requests for surge support.
  • How many hours are needed to fill in for a fulltime staff member?

    While a full-time equivalent is 160 hours per month, typically we recommend closer to 120 hours per month for a retainer to cover a staffing gap. This is for two reasons. First, consultants don’t bill for many activities that would be part of a full-time employee’s day, such as attending staff meetings. Second, we recommend starting with the low end of what you think you’ll need, with the option to surge up during busier times. That way, you won’t pay for hours you’re not going to use!

  • How big or small can we go with a retainer?

    Your retainer size is built to fit your team’s specific needs. The baseline number typically varies between 40 and 160 hours (about 25% LOE to full-time equivalent). With over 40 completed and ongoing retainer projects, the Bid Boss founders can help you strategize about the right level of support to meet your needs.

    • What if we need more time than our guaranteed number of hours in one month?
      It’s easy! The baseline is just that: a baseline. Bid Boss guarantees at least that number of hours per month. Your retainer manager will track and help you estimate how many hours are required to support your priorities. If needed, you can approve excess hours. While we can’t guarantee our availability for excess hours, we give preference to our retainer clients in providing extra support. These hours are charged at an hourly rate set by the retainer agreement.
    • What if we don't use all of our hours in one month?
      Because it takes a minute to get the hang of retainer-based support, all clients can roll over a portion of unused hours from the first to second month. Because our team members will turn down other work to guarantee they are available to meet your retainer baseline, we do not roll over unused hours after the first month.
  • How long does a retainer last?

    A retainer is best suited when you expect a need for support over three months or more. We have found this is the minimum amount of time it takes to get comfortable working together and see the real benefits of embedded support. Even if you need support for over three months, an initial three-month retainer provides a good opportunity to check in to determine if the monthly baseline number of hours still fits your needs.

  • What kinds of services are included?

    Generally speaking, a retainer is the most adaptable way in which we work. The specific scope of work can flex to respond to the most urgent or important needs of your team.
    or example, current retainer clients have included a set number of hours for:

    • Assisting in building a business development strategy
    • Leading relationship management or partnership development
    • Supporting cost proposal development and budget reviews
    • Serving in proposal team roles, as managers or coordinators
    • Conducting landscape or capture research
  • What kinds of services are included?

    Generally speaking, a retainer is our most adaptable service. The specific scope of work can be tailored to respond to your team’s most urgent or important needs. For example, current retainer clients have included work to:

    • Assist in creating a business development strategy
    • Conduct landscape and capture research
    • Engage proposal managers and writers
    • Develop back chapter inputs, such as CVs
    • Support cost proposal development and reviews
  • What happens if the project we anticipated needing support on is delayed?

    A retainer is the best fit when you have multiple needs spread across multiple months. However, delays are inevitable! Fortunately, because you can access a wide range of experts, you and your retainer manager can come up with endless possibilities for using Bid Boss support. When you kick off a retainer with us, we suggest identifying a list of “back burner” projects that we can work on if remaining hours are left. This allows us to maximize efficiency and help you check off little projects that never seem to get done between bids! In the past, this has included conducting landscape research or updating capability statements, tools, templates, and training materials.

  • What are the rates for retainers?

    We price each retainer based on the mix of services anticipated and the specific consultants who will support your team. For example, the rate for a copy editing and back chapter support retainer would be lower than that for a retainer providing parental leave coverage for a senior business development leadership role. Rates for a 40-hour per month retainer typically fall between $3,600 and $5,000.

    Because guaranteed, steady work is a better deal for both Bid Boss and our consultant team, we offer hours under retainers at a lower rate than most other capture and proposal support services. Think of it like a bulk discount!

  • How does invoicing differ from a traditional time and materials contract?

    You will receive an invoice for your monthly baseline at the beginning of the month instead of the end. If you approve excess hours during the month, these will be billed at month end. They will be included in the same invoice for the next month’s baseline, if your retainer is continuing.

On individual and group coaching...

  • Why do INGO business development professionals need coaching?

    Imagine this: Sitting down with a senior international development professional, a young professional excitedly shares that she landed a job on a business development team—a position she thought would be a perfect fit for her entrepreneurial mindset, where she could help design massive international development programs to deliver incredible impact in the most vulnerable parts of the world. Instead of being met with enthusiasm, the season pro said:

    “Wow. I’ll be really impressed if you make it more than two years. We basically just burn through our new business team every couple of years. That’s not a sustainable career path, so keep your eye out for when to move.”
    The thing is... the seasoned pro wasn't wrong. Business development team members are prone to stress, anxiety, and burnout. It shows up as an inability to sleep at night, irrational anger, and defensiveness that makes it impossible to perform the most basic technical skills (even when you know them inside and out).

  • Do you offer individual or group coaching?

    We provide both individual and group coaching services. Our individual coaching is all offered by certified Professional Diversity Coach Whitney Kippes, who maintains active certification with one of the few coaching training programs that fully integrates diversity, equity, and inclusion in its program.

    We provide team-based coaching using the Gallup CliftonStrengths approach to uncover the talent already inside your team and put it to work in a manner which is both practical and straightforward. Our goal is to support your team in leveraging and applying each individual's strengths based on what we discover together.

    Our cohort-based Peer Support Networks provide an additional model for those interested in connecting with other individuals who are interested in tackling particular challenges or navigating specific situations. Information on our active cohorts is available in the Bid Boss Clubhouse.

  • How can coaching help my team or staff members?

    Organization-sponsored employee coaching can be a valuable support system for staff members. We most frequently have employers sponsor coaching in two situations:

    • When an employee is struggling to achieve performance-related goals.
    • When an organization is concerned about retaining a highly valued employee.

    In either situation coaching can help an employee by providing a neutral third-party to meet regularly, foster self-awareness, discuss challenges and goals, and help them learn, develop, and refine specific skills.

  • What are Peer Support Networks?

    Our Boss-to-Boss Peer Support Networks are a group coaching and support mechanism designed specifically for business development staff working at international humanitarian and development organizations. The peer support network model is widely used in the private sector to bring together and facilitate support and encouragement among a group of people who share common problems and experiences.

    Our Boss-to-Boss networks are structured around a commonality between members (such as members of solo or small BD teams) and are intended to prioritize building community among BD professionals, rather than reinforcing the inherently competitive nature of our work.

    Groups share a private online community space, a monthly support call with our expert facilitators, and a direct line to peers and Bid Boss experts to get advice and support on the most pressing issues.

  • What about confidentiality?

    All individual and group coaching sessions are private to the participants in that session. We fully understand the value of your trust, and we take every measure to safeguard that trust. We will provide information on the ethical code that governs all client-coach relationships we enter. This document lays out our standards, in addition to explaining our mutual commitments and expectations.

    In our Boss-to-Boss groups all members abide by a strict "what happens in Vegas" confidentiality agreement pertaining to all group sharing. Members who do not adhere to this agreement are not welcome in our cohorts.

  • How does individual coaching work?

    In order to create the future you want, we start with defining what you want to achieve and what improvements need to be made if you want to reach and exceed your long-term goals. We'll get into your motivation and why this goal is important to you, explore your core values, and conduct a leadership growth assessment.

    Then, your coach asks powerful questions to guide you while you try different approaches and test out new ways of thinking about old problems. Our goal in working together should be to find out what works for you—not what worked for someone else.

    Coaching relies on asking questions and observing. This lets your coach to facilitate inquiry, allowing you the opportunity to address specific or individual issues. The goal is to give you the perspective and action plans that will continually support you in your personal or career growth long after our work together is complete.

    This whole process is held within an environment designed to prioritize trust, safety, and confidentiality, in alignment with the International Coaching Federation Code of Ethics.

  • How often would I meet with my coach?

    We recommend meeting with your coach once per week or every two weeks. Over many years, we've found that this frequency helps us maintain momentum and make lasting change happen. Meeting once a week offers time for reflection and application of learning between sessions, while maintaining the momentum of our work together.

  • Where do I meet with my coach?

    Individual coaching sessions are all conducted virtually using Zoom or Google Meet to ensure multiple options to connect. At this time, we do not offer in-person coaching for individuals.

    Group coaching, particularly our strengths-based team coaching, can be conducted on-site or virtually in consultation with your coach. Boss-to-Boss group coaching sessions take place virtually via Zoom.

  • How long does the coaching engagement last?

    The time frame can vary greatly and depends on a wide range of factors: your goal(s), your commitment and openness to change, your capacity for introspection, your circumstances, how quickly and thoughtfully you complete homework assignments, and other unique factors.

    We have individuals who come in for a very brief engagement (e.g., one mock interview coaching session). We have others who come in focused on one goal, achieve that goal, and begin work on another goal and then another. Individuals who partner with us in multiple capacities and for multiple goals work with us for a year or more.