Business proposals are written for one reason - to win business. You win business when your proposals persuade clients that your solutions are better than your competitors. So, as you start to write your proposal, bear in mind that your main objective is to persuade the reader to buy your service. Persuasion takes four steps
Your proposal will persuade the reader if you do four things: 1. Understand the client's need
You get the reader's attention by stating a specific need or problem they have and explain how you can solve this. Every client-centred proposals show that you understand their need. Show clients that you recognize their need. State it clearly. 2. Show the benefits
Use the RFP to show your understanding of the benefits they can expect from what you are proposing. Discuss the solution at a later stage. For now, focus on explaining how client can improve their productivity, profitability and success with the solution you're offering. To support your argument, explain the consequences of inaction or selecting inferior products. You'll establish credibility not so much by demonstrating your expertise, but by showing your understanding of their business needs. 3. Recommend your solution
Make a firm, clear recommendation accompanied by action steps. Avoid any vague statement. Make sure that the reader clearly understands what you are proposing. Ask yourself - can they summarize in one sentence what you are proposing. Recommend a specific approach or application: "We recommend that the use your company to design, write and produce its corporate marketing brochure." And present it so well that the client believes that your solution will meet their need.
4. Give details
Give the reader technical and other details needed to show your qualifications and competence to deliver the solution on time, on budget and to specification. These materials must demonstrate your credibility and ability to provide such a solution. They will also show that you understand the costs involved, particularly the Return On Investment to the client. Discuss related issues, costs, management issues, schedules, risks, future implications. Always return to your key selling point your recommendation presented in terms of a quantifiable benefit. Give convincing reasons that the client should choose you over all others. Focus on the Client. And Re-Focus.
Seven steps toward a client-centred proposal
Before you start writing, answer the following seven questions. They'll force you to develop a client-centred proposal. 1. What is the client's main problem?
State for yourself the client's need or problem - in one sentence. Use the RFP, but keep an open mind. The client may not have included every reason for soliciting proposals. 2. What makes this need worth addressing, or this problem worth solving? Look beyond the obvious, and ask yourself: Why must the client meet this need now? 3. What goals must be served by whatever action is taken?
Before you decide what to propose, find out what the client wants to accomplish. The more specific you are about the client's goals and how they impact his or her business, the more convincing your proposal will be. Business goals
Capturing market share; increasing profitability; reducing overhead; promoting product Technical goals
Automating labour-intensive processes; enhancing quality with automated machining Social goals
Enhancing employee morale; reducing turnover; increasing brand recognition; changing consumer attitudes Personal goals
Include issues of career and prestige that the client is dealing with in trying to solve the problem
4. Which goals have the highest priority?
Rank what is most important to the client, and write your proposal in that order. 5. What products or services can you offer to achieve these goals? Brainstorm. Be creative. Consider anything....