Five steps to delivering a winning business proposal

Posted by Oliver Hogue on 03/05/2016

Business proposals come in all different forms, from a formal tender to an informal email, but whatever the scope and mode of delivery, great business proposals all have a few things in common.

Here are five steps to writing business proposals that really dazzle, helping you to win more business, grow your revenue and leave your competition far behind.

1. Know the client (and their requirements)

It’s easy to get excited and start jumping into writing your proposal straight away, especially if you’re on a tight deadline, but without taking the time to research your potential client and their requirements first, your proposal is going to be hit and miss.

This is not what you want! Demonstrating that you have a thorough understanding your client’s organisation and the issues involved will really make them sit up and pay attention to the rest of your proposal.

2. Propose a solution

Once you’ve shown your client that you truly understand their requirements, you can outline your solution and explain in detail how you plan to address their issue.

This is a great place to incorporate visuals, bullet points and step-by-step lists to present your solution as clearly as possible. By the time the client finishes this section, they should know exactly what you plan to do and why.

3. Make it clear how your solution will bring value

The previous section was about highlighting and outlining the solution, this section is where you really sell the solution by explaining exactly how it will bring value to the client.

What’s in it for them? How will their organisation benefit from your solution as opposed to an alternative one?

4. Clearly outline the cost

By now the person reading your proposal should be getting excited about your solution and the benefits they can gain from it. This is where you need to clearly state the costs involved.

Taking a step-by-step, itemised approach here is always best, and costs should be put into context of the amount of value that will be delivered.

5. Add all the evidence as an appendix

It’s always good to back up any assertions you make with measurable evidence, but it’s best to avoid putting everything into the main body of the document. Especially if the page counts are limited.

Include any technical documentation, product descriptions and supporting research in an appendix instead of the main body of the proposal. This minimises distraction, without sacrificing credibility.

As well as the content of the proposal, don’t forget to spend some time polishing it up, formatting it and presenting it professionally. First impressions count, and a few missed typos or spelling mistakes won’t reflect well on your organisation or the quality of your proposal.

Writing a winning business proposal takes time, but it’s well worth the effort! Once you understand the basic formula of business proposals, you’ll find they get easier to write and your success rate should start to go up.

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