Top 10 Reasons to Vote Your Color Team Reviewers Off the Island

We all know that proposal color teams reviews are valuable. When done correctly, color team reviews are the most cost-effective way to improve a proposal. These color teams provide an independent, comprehensive review of how the proposal strategy, solution, compliance, responsiveness, and value have been addressed in the document.

In an ideal situation, proposal writers get collaborative, constructive guidance to improve the proposal. A solid independent review shows us where we’ve gotten too close to our topic to make good cuts and adjustments.

We all recognize, however, that some reviewers don’t really seem to understand how to provide the clear, constructive guidance we all need and appreciate. Those are the reviewers you just want to eradicate at the end of a long review session. Here are my top 10 reasons to “vote a reviewer off the island” (and what we really wanted from them):

10. Reviewers think they’re graphic artists and want to debate the color palette.

Request: Focus on the graphic content and whether or not it’s appropriate/adds value.

9. Reviewers focus on the minutia instead of big picture. “I don’t really know much about this, so I focused on the editorial issues.”

Request: We know that some of our evaluators won’t know the topic well, either. Tell us if what we wrote was clear? Did it explain enough?

8. Reviewers insist on going page-by-page to discuss their comments no matter how small or large.

Request: Take the time to put the comments into some sort of order so we get the general and important specific guidance before we hear about typos!

7. Reviewers don’t know when to stop making changes.

Request: Think through the impact of all these requests—which comments really add value to the document?

6. Bring me a new rock. Reviewers keep changing their minds with each review, sending the team back and forth because “they will know it when they see it.”

Request: Take some time when reading the RFP and reviewing the proposal to identify the solution and help the team articulate it.

5. Pet Rock Syndrome. Reviewers promoting their own favorite pet rocks and want to consume valuable space with non-compliant material that doesn’t add value in a space-constrained document.

Request: Does your pet rock fit in this proposal? Does it make sense for the offer?

4. Rude reviewers. Feedback is not constructive, is said with insulting tones, or is otherwise unprofessional (e.g., a reviewer in a red team who literally took scissors to the proposal and cut it up in front of us!)

Request: Don’t hold back on the critique, but think about the tone and style in which it’s delivered. Will the team be motivated at the end or just miserable?

3. Reviewers focus on what they don’t like without providing constructive feedback on how to make it better. They offer nothing but “fluff.”

Request: If the content isn’t quite there, tell us how you would fix it! We are looking for your advice.

2. Reviewers don’t read the RFP (or the proposal) before making suggestions.

Request: Please don’t come to the review without having some idea what the RFP asks for. We end up with comments that add little value, boilerplate suggestions, and a sense of wasted time!

…And my number 1 reason to vote a reviewer off the island:

1. Reviewers come to the review and work on their smart phones instead of reviewing and participating.

Request: I wanted a reviewer, not a lump who just wastes my time and charges me for the privilege of having you in the room. If you come to the review, do the job assigned! You were chosen because you could add value. Make sure the team gets the benefit of your knowledge and experience.

by Brooke Crouter


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Lohfeld Consulting