Author Frank Stasiowski offers questions to ask a
client before writing a proposal. These questions will
shed light on the details of project and illuminate the
Sometimes clients schedule formal meetings for all
firms interested in submitting a proposal on a
project. During this meeting it is important to gather
information and ask questions and, above all, listen.
Do not discuss or offer your proposal strategy at this
meeting; it’s premature.
If the client doesn’t schedule a formal meeting,
consider offering to arrange an informal one. This is
a good opportunity to build a better relationship with
the client, learn more details about the project, and
perhaps “read between the lines” of the request for
Ask open-ended questions. Learn everything you
can about the project, the client’s experience with
previous projects, and the client’s expectations for
The following are sample questions, organized into
categories. Not all questions, or the form of the
questions, will be appropriate in every instance. Use
the sample questions to stimulate your thinking and
broaden the scope of information you might seek to
acquire in a client interview.
Determining Client Need
• What led you to our firm?
• How can we help you?
• How would you define the scope of this project
in general terms?
• What is our overriding goal for this project?
• What problems or obstacles to achieving this
goal have you already identified?
• Where does this project fit into your
organization’s long-range planning?
• How did the project originate?
• Who developed the idea?
• Is the idea similar to someone else’s?
• Who in your organization is supportive of the
• Who in your organization questions, or
questioned, the need for the project?
• Is there any...