If your business wants to win more work, it's critical to understand the proposal process. Getting your process right can open up a window of opportunity for your business to thrive.
There are many aspects to consider when writing a proposal so we want to provide you with as much detail as we can and hopefully you will come away knowing much more about the subject!
Get Your Focus Right
When writing a proposal, you need to focus on what is important - the client! Far too often, people will just talk about themselves and their business.
As much as this can be relevant, the importance should be placed upon the client/buyer. Talk about how your business will benefit them and how they will be better off choosing your services over anyone else.
By showing you understand your client's issues and empathise with them, you highlight your expertise in the market, reduce the perceived risk of a new supplier, while giving yourself an opportunity to show how you would manage these 'issues'.
Structuring A Business Proposal
Structuring your proposal in the correct way is the key to making sure it flows and reads well. Proposals will, of course, vary in size and structure but there are some fundamental principles to stick by.
One of these is: if you are given a structure to follow, follow it! Whatever is given to you e.g. core elements to include or a list of evaluation criteria, you need to stick by them.
This will act as your structure for the document and will also show the client that you have responded clearly to their requirements.
Your response can’t just be seen as being pulled from a generic template that you send to every client. It needs to be catered and specific to one client only and their needs.
If you haven’t been given any requirements for your proposal, here are some things you may want to include:
- Executive Summary
- Our Understanding of Your Needs
- Proposed Solution / Key Service Offerings and Differentiators
- Demonstrating a Commitment to Cost Saving & Process Efficiencies
- Our Service Delivery/ Account/ Project Team
- Our Partnership Approach to Relationship Management
- Ongoing Relationship Management / Account/Project Management
- Implementation and Mobilisation Plan
- Proven Track Record of Managing Similar Projects
- Managing Workload and Surge Capacity
- Our Approach to Managing Risk
- Communication and Reporting
- Issue Resolution and Escalation Processes
- Quality Assurance / Compliance with quality standards / Key Performance Indicators & Service Level Agreements
- Relevant Experience / Our Track Record / References and Case Studies
- Accreditations, Affiliations and Memberships
- Fee Schedule
- Example Appendices - Biographies, Case Studies, Financial Information, Policies and Procedures, Quality Certification, Insurance Detail.
Understanding The Process
If there is not a formal specification document, or brief to read - you need to fully consider what the client is looking for.
Asking yourself questions such as “what do they want”, “what are their perceived risks” and “what is important to them”. Using these questions, and/or the formal documents, you need to start considering what the best solution is for the client.
This is the key. Why is your solution the best solution for the client, considering the client requirements and the market they are in?
To know this you need to understand your likely competitor's solutions.
By asking yourself these questions you should be able to create a single sheet of bullet points which describe ultimately why you should win the contract; your win themes!
As you are drafting a proposal for a client, your win themes should be clear throughout - as if it has been done right - this is what the client will be interested in, and will help them make the right decision.
The Final Touches
So, let’s say content-wise, you have smashed the ball out of the park and written a winning proposal. That's great and all, but how does it look?
The content of the proposal is obviously what matters the most but the design of it should also represent your brand and that of your client.
It’s important to think about readability e.g. don’t just provide large blocks of text through the document.
Make use of flow charts to describe processes, infographics, tables to quickly and clearly show compliance, added value and photos to build trust.