Whether you’re someone who owns and manages his own business, a freelancer or a manager of a service provider in any industry, the task of writing proposals will always seem intimidating, especially if it’s your first time or if you don’t get to do it often. But a proposal is always one of the many crucial documents you need to write as it is a skill that will always come in handy in many fields such as research, science and technology, and of course, business. You may also see Proposal Samples.
A well-written proposal can spell the difference between success and failure in winning projects and gaining clients. In today’s very competitive business sphere, entrepreneurs spend hours and hours writing proposals from formats or outlines that no longer work, submitting them to scores of potential clients and getting neither results nor response. Meanwhile, there are those that are fortunate to win contracts after submitting just a single proposal. How do they do it? This article will teach you the steps but first let’s start by knowing what elements to include:
1. Proposal Cover: You need to nail this because this is the very first thing or page that the potential client will see. While it doesn’t have to be flashy, your cover should be clean with a simple but professional design. Make that first impression count by ensuring your cover has the following information:
Make sure that the logos you include (yours or your client’s) are aesthetically appealing and if you’re going to use photos, make sure they are high-quality and set in high resolution. It’s not a good start when your client sees a blurry version of their logo or poorly-taken photos of your company in a white space looking like a cheap hack.
2. Executive Summary: If like many others, you think this is a summary of the whole proposal, you’re wrong. The executive summary is the summary of the solution you’re proposing, a pitch or an explanation why what you’re offering is the perfect fit for the company. It needs to break down why the client should choose you and not the competition. It’s where you need to get persuasive but not to the point of hard-selling, focusing your pitch on the benefits or main advantage of the services your business can provide. Additionally, it should be able to cover the following points:
3. Approach/Solution: This section should be an outline detailing how you plan to solve the client’s challenges and what steps or process is involved. As much as possible, be specific in stating your points about the client and the project. You don’t want them thinking you sent a copy of the usual business proposal without bothering to customize it to their needs, or the impression that you’ve simply swapped another client’s name for theirs. Even if this solution is one you sell to most of your clients, make the context of the proposal feel customized.
4. Milestones: Break the project into phases. Outline the events and deliverables involved with each one, how long it will take, who is responsible for what, and what will be accomplished at the completion of each milestone.
Proposals would never cease to be intimidating and writing them requires you to persuasively point out your understanding of what the potential client needs as well as why hiring your services is their best chance at a solution. There are times when even the most well-thought solutions can get no response or a straight up rejection when the proposal as a whole isn’t convincing. Here are some steps you can use to get your potential clients to say yes:
1. Know your audience: Who will be reading your proposal? Before getting down to write the proposal, make sure you know who your audience is and consider what they might already know or not know regarding the service they require. This will set focus on your ideas and will also give you a chance to strike your points clearly. It’s always wiser to assume that people who reads your proposal will be busy reading in a rush or just skimming through the whole document without a hint of being subjective to consider your suggestions right away. Be persuasive if you want your reader’s attention.
2. Do your research: Before finalizing your proposal, you need to do some research. Research is one of the best ways to build your credibility on the topic. It also helps you prove that there is a problem and you have the best solution for it. Read the request for proposal and make sure you understand what the client needs and how it fits the service your business offers. You can fact-check on the client’s website or also get in touch with a representative from their office. You would only want to present facts to avoid making your proposal sound subjective and only focused on your needs as the provider instead of the client’s.
3. Focus on the goals: Once you have the information for the services the client requires or once you’ve read the request for proposal the client has posted, your next step is to make sure you stay on topic and on top of your writing task. What are your goals? What does the client need? What does the service demand? You have to be as specific as you can in discussing the process and your intended approach. Shy away from a pitch that doesn’t offer a clear goal because it will be obvious.
4. Propose solutions: This is arguably the most vital step in the proposal writing process because this is where you detail how your company can address the problem. What can you do to solve the issues you or the client have identified? Explain why your solution helps and what the perceived results will be. Make your proposal convincing by describing the bigger picture. Proposals that have weak points and basis wouldn’t get much notice from the approving board compared to those that can discuss solutions with a broader impact.
5. Back up your ideas with facts: Winning business proposals can appeal to the audience emotionally because after all, even company managers and CEOs are humans and thus have a weak spot, but a sob story alone isn’t going to get you a contract. Your proposal should always be based on facts because that’s the stronghold of an argument. For instance, a proposal to start an environmental awareness program could mention how unfortunate the state of our environment is, at present but it shouldn’t stop there. It would need to base its argument on facts and solutions for the proposal to be convincing.
A strong business proposal is a top opportunity to win new business. It is the ultimate sales pitch, and is essentially a condensed version of all the value your solution brings to a client’s problem. Use these tips below to nail your proposal:
Here are the two most common types of project proposals that gets submitted:
A business plan is a broad, factual, and detailed description of a company or business on the executive and operational level. On the other hand, a business proposal is a sales document focusing on a client’s needs and how the company will approach a project with the services they provide. It’s also a document stating the value that the service can add to the business.
The terms and conditions isn’t a necessary part of a proposal but you can add it if you want to clearly establish everything right from the beginning. Just try not to fill it with business or lawyer jargon and as much as possible, make it concise, keeping the language professional and understandable to the regular blue collar worker.
No matter what type of proposal you write in any industry, you’re required to provide a detailed information about your business’ capability to deliver what the client needs. Push the right buttons and strike your points well by using factual evidence to back your claims. That way, your proposal’s tone, content and organization will fall into place responsively. It’s important that you end up presenting a clear understanding of a customer’s business and highlight the benefits of using your services to make your proposal compelling and persuasive.