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How to write a winning business proposal

Have you been asked to write a business proposal? Has your business proposal been unsuccessful in the bidding process? Then these steps may help you to improve your business proposal for the next submission.

First, let us look at what is a business proposal? This is a document which is specifically created to offer services which satisfy a need that the client has. Because the document is designed specifically for a client, it is important that you carefully consider whether you want to submit your proposal or not.

Before we write a proposal there is some preparation which needs to be done.

1. Read the request for proposal (RFP) carefully

It is important that you carefully read through the whole request for proposal carefully. Make sure you understand what the client’s problem is and how your product will solve their problem.

2. Understand your client’s requirements

Call your customer or if that is not possible send your client an email. It is important to have a discussion with your client to understand their requirements. Before you go into the meeting ensure you have a list of questions which address the minimum requirements you need to do an excellent job. You should always ask your customer what they expect to receive and when they expect to receive it. It is also important to track the problems you have with clients and then make a list of questions which address these problems. These should also be on the list of questions you ask your customer. It is important to make sure the list is not too long.

You can also learn more about your client by doing a search online. Look at their website and use a search engine to find out more about them and their industry.

3. Focus on the audience

When you write your proposal it is important to focus on your audience. How does your solution make your client’s business better? Why would your solution be a better option for your client? You should use language which your client is familiar with and understands.

4. Estimate your costs

When working out how much the project costs don’t forget to factor in the often forgotten hidden costs. For a product, remember to include shipping and a handling fee. For services, remember to calculate all the tasks which will be involved in the service. Don’t forget to include the time it takes to correspond with your client and respond, and the time it will take to do a revision.

When you have this information you are ready to write a proposal.

1. The sections of the proposal
Most business proposal have these key section in them:

A. Executive summary: this should not be longer than one page. It is written for the busy executive, so it should be written in a way that it can be easily scanned. It should also entice your client to want to read the proposal further and represent the takeaway message you want your client to walk away with when they have finished reading the proposal.

B. Scope: In this section you should clearly state your solution. What will you provide your client with and how will you provide it. You should also be able to answer the questions: what, where, who, when and how in the scope.

C. Cost of solution: Here you will highlight how much the solution will cost your client. This will be based on your estimate.

D. Delivery: In the delivery section, you need to clearly highlight when your client can expect delivery of goods or services. This can include the time and day and the method of delivery.

E. Terms and conditions: These are important as they are there to protect you and your customer from any misunderstandings. It is important to use plain English when stating your terms and conditions.

F. Expiration date: It is important to put an expiry date on your proposal otherwise your customer may come back to you after a few years and ask for the prices you wrote in your proposal.

2. The language of the proposal

  • It is important that the focus of the proposal is on your audience. You can do this by use the second person “you” instead of “we”. For example, instead of saying “We offer writing services which enhance traffic to your website”, you could write “You will experience more traffic on your website through dynamic and SEO-optimised copy”.
  • You should also try to limit the amount of jargon you use within your proposal.
  • Use bullet points to get your ideas over easier.
  • Make sure you keep your sentences short.

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