Steps for Writing a Business Proposal
One of the most important aspects of writing a winning proposal is first understanding the business’s goals and objectives. This will help to define the steps for writing a business proposal that will incorporate a good understanding of the problem that they are facing and the type of solution that they are looking for.
In addition, you need to communicate what your company does, its unique capabilities, experience, and qualifications as well as identify your company’s achievements, milestones, overall vision, and mission or future plans; and why your company is ideal for providing the solution that will solve or mitigate their primary problem.
The next key is to provide your technical approach describing exactly how your company will effectively implement your solution along with proof that you have successfully accomplished this approach in the past with other clients. Your technical approach must also identify the resources you’ll use to implement your solution, which may include a schedule of events and a breakdown of the costs associated with those resources.
Business proposals are different than government agency proposals in that they typically do not have a large number of compliance requirements or provide detailed information about exactly what to include. They may put out a formal solicitation or request for proposal (RFP). In these cases, you need to provide them with the information that they request. They may also ask informally for a proposal so that they can evaluate your company’s capabilities. To respond, you will need to do much more research into their specific issues in order to address them appropriately. Then, your may be interested in providing an unsolicited proposal, which is actually more of a marketing effort where you are primarily interested in gaining their attention and having them contact you about your services. Since you do not have specific knowledge about their pressing issues, the emphasis on your capabilities is key.
In business proposals, it is extremely important that you provide an Executive Summary to introduce your company, demonstrate your company’s achievements, and proposed solutions. Even so, keep the content clear and concise which peaks their interest to investigate the more detailed content in the technical approach itself. This is effectively done by clearly outlining the problem and emphasizing the need and urgency of the issue. The reader now will be interested in reading about your solution to their problem.
When defining the steps for writing a business proposal and presenting the problem, show a clear understanding of their pressing needs as you know them, which demonstrates that you are not just providing a generic pitch. With this approach you have the opportunity to identify problems and issues that they might not even be aware of, implying that you most likely have a solution that they will benefit from.
When presenting your proposed solution, you will identify exactly how you will relieve your prospect of their various pain points. This is often best represented in its own section, which can be referred to again and again. Provide detailed information and include a timeline of events. Of course, this only gets you so far since at this point, they have no idea that you can actually deliver what you are promising.
Following your proposed solution, support your methods and approaches with proofs by referring to past projects/clients where you have successfully implemented similar solutions. Name your past clients, who on your team led the effort, and the results and timelines that were achieved.
These proofs lead us to another key section, which includes references, client testimonials, and project profiles or case studies as well as any industry awards received. This third-party evidence builds trust and creates confidence in your company’s abilities to achieve your stated end results.
The next question will be when can you do this and over what period of time?
Flow charts or Gantt charts work best showing what gets done, when, and by whom. Sometimes, graphic representations of events along a flow chart work great, especially for long-term projects.
In your pricing section, identifying any legal issues is appropriate, but the primary focus is on the fees you will charge, how you schedule receiving payment, and any special terms & conditions. It is also best to keep this a bit open by offering a couple of options. The key is to ensure that your profit over costs is acceptable to you and that your overall price is not cost-prohibitive to your client.
If you are at the point where you are seeking a go, no-go, you will want to include the contract terms and conditions with signature blocks for your client to sign and date. Your company’s signature block can also be filled out, signed, and dated to get things moving forward.
Some things to consider throughout the proposal is to use your company logo and other brand identity graphics and taglines that reiterate your mission, goals, and/or values as a business. Also, links to your website are good when you have quality information that will help your prospects solidify their decision to move forward.