2022 RFP Trends & Benchmarks
Chapter 6: Salary and Career Comparisons
This section is exclusively for those in a full-time RFP position. Our hope is to empower those in the field to better understand their roles, salaries, and career prospects.
On the whole, proposal professionals love their work—but a lack of diversity in the field suggests that rewards aren’t evenly distributed.
Two-thirds of RFP proposal managers are over the age of 35, while three-quarters are white (74%), and 7 in 10 identify as female (71%). That places the proposal industry alongside professions like teaching in terms of its gender imbalance, and airplane pilots with racial imbalance.
Most RFP Proposal Managers Have 5+ Years of Experience
Over half of proposal professionals have been in an RFP-related role for over five years. A surprising one-third (31%) have been in the field more than 10 years.
With time comes seniority, and those with more than 10 years of experience are much more likely to be a Manager/Team Lead, Director role, or higher. Enterprise-sized companies were more likely to have people with 10+ years of experience in RFP roles.
It also seems that those with 15+ years of experience were more likely to be unsatisfied or have neutral feelings towards their process, compared to those early on in their career. Companies, keep an eye on your more tenured professional’s satisfaction levels if you don’t want to lose them.
This many years of experience seems to be a tipping point for satisfaction.
Salary: Nearly One Quarter of Proposal Pros Earn Six Figures
On average, a proposal manager salary is $87,000 USD annually. A slight majority of proposal professionals (51%) earn between $51,000-$100,000. Interestingly, 23% make more than $101,000 annually.
Women are more likely to be in the low-to-mid pay bands, despite making up a vast majority of this industry. On the flipside, males are more likely to be in the high-to-mid pay bands.
Eighteen percent of respondents chose not to respond to the salary question, so it seems there’s a hesitancy to discuss salary in this industry. But the more openly everyone shares, the more people can know to ask for what they’re worth.
For more insights on salary, download the full RFP Trends & Benchmarks Report.
4 in 5 Plan To Stay On This Career Path
An overwhelming 81% of RFP professionals plan on staying in this career path. Nearly two-thirds (63%) expect to be in a more senior proposal role within the next five years.
It appears they have a pretty good reason to believe in their growth in the field: more than 1 in 4 were promoted within the last 12 months. Notably, an equal number of females and males were promoted. Those already earning mid-to-high salaries or in the 25-44 age range were the most likely to be promoted this year.
Key Takeaways: Why Teams Should Openly Share Salaries
Those in the proposal profession tend to be over 35, white, and identify as female. And though females have received an equal number of promotions in the last 12 months, they still tend to be paid less than their male colleagues—something all of us can combat by sharing salaries openly.
Train your people managers: It appears many people managers may be getting into the weeds and writing proposals. Few report people management, capture planning, and competitive analysis as top duties. Challenge the managers on your team to step back: Become a coach who builds a program for their team to execute on.
The RFP industry has a diversity problem: The RFP industry’s demographics reflect a serious diversity imbalance. There are too few males, too few young people, and far, far too few people of color. Improving team diversity improves performance, so companies would do well to review their hiring and promotional practices, expand their networks, and invest in new talent.
Openly share salaries and mandate pay equity: Females tend to be paid less than males, and it’s a problem every people manager can begin to address, today. Create pay bands for each proposal role and level, and make sure they’re followed for hirings and promotions. This way, it’s less likely that bias or negotiation skills will leave people behind.
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