Individual and Organizational Roles

Clearly defined roles give organizations an effective, repeatable way to assign responsibilities for business development. These roles should be aligned in jobs titles that support an organization’s strategic priorities.

It’s important to understand the difference between job titles and job roles.

A job title is the name of a position within an organization; it’s what you’re called. A job is a collection of roles that an employee is responsible for conducting. Jobs have titles and a salary range associated with performance. They also typically require that an individual report to a specific person.

A job role is what you actually do. Roles are one or more sets of responsibilities or expected results associated with a job. A role is typically defined as a set of activities needed to produce some result, such as develop a strategy, develop an opportunity plan, or coordinate a proposal. Therefore, your role can change depending on your organization’s needs.

Within business development, individuals are commonly assigned a job title, but they may be expected to carry out more than one role.


Business development (BD) and proposal organizations that consistently win often do so by building individual and organizational competencies in proposal and BD areas.

This means establishing defined roles, recognizing individuals who perform well on given proposal and BD activities, and applying those individuals’ skills to subsequent efforts. APMP certification assists organizations in identifying individuals with certain competencies. It establishes professional standards recognized by BD and proposal organizations throughout the industry.

Organizational maturity begins by building the competencies and skills of individuals within the organization. This helps build quality and repeatability in work products and basic procedures.

As an organization matures further, its focus often extends to building organizational competencies. That is, organizations seek to build overall competence rather than simply relying on talented individuals. Organizations do this by establishing enterprise-wide roles for BD leadership, enhancing capabilities for customer focus, and implementing quality programs and systems that institutionalize best practice processes.

Best Practices

1. Establish a leadership role for the business development function within the organization.

An organization’s BD activities should be aligned with its strategic objectives, and those objectives must feed into operational priorities. Appointing a BD leader to an organization’s senior leadership team contributes to strategic growth by:

  • Providing cohesive methodologies for prioritizing and allocating resources appropriately for business units and sales teams
  • Ensuring that an appropriate set of strategic and tactical opportunities is funded and pursued
  • Making organizational structure decisions, such as placement of support teams for bid and proposals, with emphasis on ability to win

2. Define a business development organization structure that supports growth objectives.

Successful BD organizational structures often share the following characteristics:

  • Clearly defined accountabilities, responsibilities, reporting structures, and decisionmaking authorities
  • A single BD executive who assumes clear authority and accountability for BD operations
  • BD managers and personnel assigned and empowered by leaders, so that BD operations are effectively supported
  • Incentive schemes to encourage competency development and performance improvement; incentives could include:
    • Rewards that specifically recognize team-working behaviors
    • Executive letters of recognition publicized across the organization
    • Career progression opportunities and promotions
    • Individual and team-based financial rewards

3. Understand the relationships between roles, jobs, titles, and competencies.

Figure 1 demonstrates the relationships between the terms job, role, and competency.

Figure 1. Relationship Between Jobs, Roles, and Competencies.

Figure 1. Relationship Between Jobs, Roles, and Competencies. One or more roles can be combined to form a job. Each role has its own set of competencies.

Competencies are descriptions of the knowledge and skills needed to perform a role in an organization. They might include written and oral communication skills, understanding of the BD process, or proficiency with various software programs.

By understanding the competencies required for each BD role, you can allocate several or multiple roles to an individual when required. What’s important is that the individual assigned to the role has the relevant competencies to fulfill the role.

4. Use the standard APMP proposal and business development roles to guide your staffing plan.

When developing your staffing plan, remember that there’s great variation within organizations as to the roles and responsibilities assigned within each bid team. This is driven by the variation in size and complexity of the documents submitted to customers, and whether they’re in the public or commercial sector.

The trend over the past few years has been for organizations to have smaller bid teams. This has led to individuals—whatever their job title—being required to carry out multiple roles. All roles need to be carried out no matter what type of document or market sector you’re involved in. Therefore, it’s important to understand the composition of the team you’re working with and to make sure all the required roles and responsibilities have been suitably allocated.

The table below shows some of the roles and their associated responsibilities as recognized by APMP:

Common Proposal and Business Development Roles

Sales Manager The Sales Manager’s role is to meet sales targets within the organization. He or she devises the strategies and techniques necessary to achieve targets, including management of the sales pipeline, opportunity qualification, and allocation of targets to individual salespeople. Additionally, the Sales Manager will maintain and improve relationships with existing customers, identify and cultivate new customers, and generate both tactical and strategic opportunities. He or she coordinates marketing programs in support of sales and oversees the sales operation and budget while ensuring accountability of the sales force and support team.
Account Manager The Account Manager’s role is to maintain and extend relationships with existing customers, groups of customers, and/or specific markets. The Account Manager acts as the interface between assigned customers and the organization’s sales, technical, and management teams. He or she focuses on creating long-term relationships with assigned accounts within the portfolio. The Account Manager advocates for the customer’s needs, communicates the customer’s direction, creates strategies to promote and maintain customer satisfaction, and ensures account retention and growth.
Opportunity/Capture Manager The Opportunity/Capture Manager’s role is to lead individual, or specific, opportunities from qualification (i.e., pursuit decision) to contract award. Opportunity/Capture Managers are responsible for integrating market, customer, and competitor intelligence with internal management and financial concerns. They oversee opportunity-specific customer influence and win strategy development and implementation, manage internal and external stakeholder engagement, develop the offering and winning price, and develop a risk management strategy. They also identify and negotiate teaming partners and arrangements when necessary. Additionally, the Opportunity/Capture Manager leads early strategy development, coordinates with stakeholders to assign pursuit team members, plans and manages the pursuit budget, facilitates teaming decisions, and coordinates review and approval requirements for offering, cost/price, and proposal deliverables. He or she ensures the customer positioning, that the offering is aligned with customer needs, and the winning price.
Bid Manager The Bid Manager’s role is to lead the overall proposal development, beginning at bid decision and through post-submittal requirements. The Bid Manager is responsible for overseeing the integration of the offering and proposal planning, transitioning to proposal development, organizing review and approval of the proposal offering and content, ensuring timely proposal delivery, and following up with customer and internal stakeholders. Additionally, the Bid Manager leads a multidisciplinary team to implement the opportunity strategy for offering details needed to prepare the proposal, including technical, management, contract, cost estimate, and other customer deliverables. He or she ensures the offer is compliant and responsive (technical, management, and cost) and manages appropriate support from stakeholder organizations and their timely involvement and decisionmaking.
Proposal Manager The Proposal Manager’s role is to implement and improve the organization’s proposal process from pre-proposal planning through proposal delivery and support of post-submittal deliverables. He or she leads proposal preparation for individual pursuits, including written, oral, and demonstration requirements. Additionally, the Proposal Manager develops and maintains the proposal plan, manages the proposal schedule, organizes proposal resources, coordinates team inputs and reviews, identifies and supports resolution of proposal development issues, oversees production of proposal deliverables, and facilitates proposal follow-up and lessons learned. This manager also ensures proposal compliance and responsiveness, bid strategy deployment, and the quality of proposal deliverables.
Knowledge Manager The Knowledge Manager’s role is to create new and maintain existing content for reusable knowledge databases. A Knowledge Manager uses organization, writing, and knowledge-management design skills to increase the strategic value of an organization’s intellectual property, especially for market and competitive advantage. He or she develops and applies an appropriate information model, taxonomy, and metadata schema to support content accessibility and reliability across the business-winning lifecycle. The Knowledge Manager ensures that content is valid and accurate, users can retrieve data and information intuitively, and knowledge databases are systematically refreshed and expanded to meet the organization’s dynamic information needs.
Proposal Writer A Proposal Writer provides the specialized proposal content needed to respond to detailed requirements of the customer’s solicitation. This includes plans, data, information, cost, and other elements. The Proposal Writer implements win strategies and follows guidance for the appropriate inclusion/application of themes, discriminators, trade studies, graphics, and other communication techniques needed to satisfy customer instructions and persuade customers of benefits. He or she also ensures timely delivery of assigned content and other materials required for the proposal.

Application in Diverse Environments

Differences across large and small organizations

In large BD organizations, jobs may be specialized, and each role may indeed be a separate job.

In medium-sized organizations, roles may be combined such that a person with a particular job may perform multiple roles.

In small settings, all proposal and BD roles may be assigned to only one or two individuals.

Varying roles and responsibilities worldwide

In the United Kingdom and Europe, the Bid Manager role often predominates. Often, this position has customer contact responsibilities. In the U.S. market, the Proposal Manager is more frequently used and typically does not have customer contact responsibility.

Role of professional development and certification

Mature organizations around the world understand the value that professional proposal management and development capabilities bring to the enterprise. These organizations recognize the need for standards and competency-based hiring. The APMP certification program provides a framework for development of both individual and organizational skills.

Recent Trends

APMP Professional Development study

APMP has initiated a Professional Development research study to define roles and corresponding competencies across the entire business development continuum.

Common Pitfalls and Misconceptions

Continuing confusion between “roles” and “titles”

Roles in the BD and proposal profession are often discussed in terms of job titles. In the APMP member database alone, there are more than 1,300 different titles that members hold. Use of the role concept helps individuals across organizations reach a common understanding of the activities and tasks that others perform. It also provides a common base of comparison for the APMP Salary Surveys.


  • Successful proposal organizations build organizational competencies in key proposal areas and work to match individuals’ skills to particular BD roles
  • BD leaders can help guide BD decisionmaking to achieve organizations’ strategic objectives
  • BD operations should be organized within an organization’s overall structure
  • A job is an individual’s professional title and has an associated set of roles that the individual is expected to perform
  • Roles are the activities and expected outcomes associated with a job
  • Competencies are the knowledge and skills required to perform the activities associated with the roles
  • Job titles vary widely across organizations, but roles performed are fairly standard. APMP uses a standard list of proposal/BD roles to describe its members’ activities

Terms to Know

Tools and Templates

See Also