Writing A Great Business Proposal, One Detail at a Time

Ariele Sieling posted this on proposals

What goes up, must come down, so they say. Or as my grandmother says: what goes in, must come out. Despite the charming image this saying may inspire, it's technically true. And it is also true when it comes to proposal writing.

Think about it. You want to respond to a particular RFP because the work is perfect and the company looking for a contractor has a sparkling reputation. But you don't have a lot of money to prepare this proposal. You hire an unskilled writer and an unskilled copyeditor. They're cheap and desperate for work. You throw them some suggestions, a description of what you want, and a few URLs as source material.

They get to work. They come to you with their "finished" proposal:

photo chinese butter knock-off "Unbelievable: it's not butter"

You get what you pay for. Which, in this case, is probably nothing, because it's unlikely you will win the contract with "This is not butter".

What goes in, must come out. Time, effort, energy, and quality must go into a proposal to turn it into something that will win you a contract, because that is what potential clients are looking for: evidence that you put time, effort, and energy into your proposal to make it quality.

So other than the elusive time, effort, and energy, what goes into a great business proposal?

    1. Knowledge. Know the requirements, know your field, know everything you can about the hiring company, and know the problem inside and out. By knowing the requirements of the project, you can determine if you are what this company is looking for. If you don't meet the requirements, you're wasting your time and theirs. By understanding the company, you can cater your proposal to their preferences; you can adjust your language, tone, and style to match theirs. Finally, by knowing the problem, you can construct a solution to their problem that is going to be cost effective, efficient, and exactly what they need.
    2. Strategy. Strategy comes in all shapes in sizes. First, is this the right contract in the first place? Is the contract something you can fulfill, and if it's awarded to you, will you be able to shine or will it wear on your team and your finances? Strategize the problem-solving. What if the hiring company likes your proposal but doesn't like your solution to their problem? What alternatives can you bring to the table? Finally, think about your competitors. This isn't Chess, it's Risk. What can you do to outshine everyone else submitting a proposal?
    3. Details.

However you choose to approach creating a proposal, remember that what goes in, must come out. Take the time and energy to create a high-quality, sparkling clean proposal so you can outshine your competitors and win that contract!


business cat proposal meme

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