3 Tips For Writing A Winning Proposal
Written by Kimberly MacArthur Graham on December 26, 2013
Many business owners have told me that writing proposals is one of their least-favorite chores. Unfortunately, it often shows – in a boring document that is hard to read and hardly compelling. And that’s too bad! Much more than the sum of its parts, a proposal is your first in-depth opportunity to demonstrate all the great reasons why a potential client should hire you.
Standard pieces of a successful proposal:
1 – Firm introduction and background – history, organizational structure, services, market sectors, etc.
2 – Qualifications – relevant experience, licensing, education, etc.
3 – Project approach – how you will meet the needs of this particular client and project
4 – References – contact info for clients, possibly testimonials about the work you performed
5 – Pricing – usually project-specific estimates, plus an hourly rate if applicable
Not every proposal has every one of these sections, and they may be called different things, but this is pretty commonly the information that a potential client wants to know. Your goal as a successful proposer is to convince them that your firm is the perfect partner for their project.
Here are three tips for writing your winning proposal.
1 – Be Concise. Answer questions specifically and present all information clearly and concisely. There are a few variations on the old saw that, “The easier it is to read something, the harder it was to write.” Take your time so that the reader’s job is easy.
2 – Be Visual. Use graphics including photos, charts, and info graphics to break up the monotony of a densely written page and when a picture really does say more than 1,000 words. (Which is probably more often than you think.)
3 – Be Your Best. Allow adequate time for edits and improvements. If you are reading a proposal carefully, you and your team will inevitably find ways to improve upon it. Make sure you build time into the proposal process for reading, digesting, and discovering where you can improve your presentation. And of course, make sure you allow time for a thorough proofreading of the final document.
In a future post, I’ll dive into each of these sections more in depth.