Writing a business proposal has no set rules for composition or layout. A business proposal is meant to persuade your prospective client. So what it should do is answer all their questions and persuade them to select you. In order for it to do so, you need to know your client’s questions, needs and expectations. Hence, the first step in writing a winning proposal is to find all those out.
Once you have all this information with you, measure what you have to offer against that and plan out your proposal by matching the two. If you are responding to a request for proposal (RFP), plan your proposal according to the guidelines provided. Otherwise key in to the client’s goals, to the comments if given orally, or to the contents in a letter or e-mail you may have received.
Now that you have everything ready, write your proposal. Although there is no “formula” for writing a proposal, you should make sure that you are including all the information that you should. Following are some guidelines which you must adhere to in order to cover all aspects of a good business proposal:
- Say who and what you are, and what is significant and distinguishing about you/your company. Give all your/your company’s background, credentials, and achievements.
- Be clear and specific in saying why you/your company/your product is different – it could be skills, experiences, technology, quality, or functionality. Say how what you have to offer will make a difference to their business and why you should be chosen.
- Make sure to include reference to the market size and its predicted growth path. Describe the segment of the market you intend to pursue and what you will do to take market share away from competitors. It is important that your client knows that you understand the market and competition.
- Summarize your business plan. Outline how you will take the project from the beginning to end, highlighting anything notable about you that separates you from competition. Make it professional and realistic with credible projections and accurate content. Make it brief but include enough detail so your client can make informed decisions.
- Discuss any regulatory issue or outside factors which you think you or your company might have to deal with during the life of the project. This is important because it saves you from any blame that you may have to face due to some third party involvement. It also shows that you have experience and know the pitfalls you have to watch out for.
- Identify the team members who will be working on the project. Provide a short resume of each team member. This way the client will know not only the team, but also each individual member.
- Discuss how much money you think you will need, how it will be used, and from where you plan to obtain it. Document all your predictions and expectations in simple cashflow and breakeven charts.
When giving all the information given above in your business proposal, be sure to –
- Make it concise and clear. Check for spellings, grammar, and syntax.
- Make it readable and understandable – in simple, clear language that does not contain too many technical words.
- Make it believable. Do not praise yourself so much that your client is put off, or promise something you cannot offer.
- Give the information from the client’s perspective, not yours.
- Concentrate more on the results rather than the methodology. It is the results that your client is interested in.
- Make sure that all the information you have given is relevant to the point.
- After you have written your proposal, wait a day or two, and then read it over. Be completely satisfied with it.
As for the layout and design of your proposal, there are no rules for this either. It all depends on the relationship you have with your client, the nature of the request, and what fits your needs. Also, you should use a format or design that you feel most comfortable with. Do not go for advanced or complicated layouts that you have difficulty in producing. The important thing to keep in mind is that your proposal should be highly readable and information should be easy to locate. Make extensive use of graphics as they enhance the readability of the document and convey information well. The length of the proposal also does not matter. What counts is quality, not quantity.
Just follow the guidelines given above and you have a winning proposal.