proposal

How to write a proposal

June 1, 2016

How to write a proposal

Even though a business proposal is one of the most important documents, most people still find producing one an uphill task. The basic requirement of a comprehensive proposal is the ability to address the evaluation criteria. It must also comply with standards outlined in the Request for Proposal (RFP). A good proposal should be client-focused and accentuate your qualifications as the best service provider. It should employ latest technologies in research and preparation, offer competitive prices, and be delivered in a top-notch presentation.

Comply with the RFP and Meet Evaluation Criteria
All the components of the proposal must be geared towards providing a clear guideline for the emerging or existing business entity. Note the client’s terminology, and use them as much as possible in the writing. George Deeb from entrepreneur.com suggests that is wise to use all the keywords in an RFP to remain relevant (https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/252061). Be compliant to RFP requirements and match your proposal to these requirements. Even if the proposal is not solicited, it is advisable to conduct proper research to identify what the client requires and their expectations for partnerships and funding.

Be Client-focused -- Understand the client
Understand the problems that the client seeks to address and surpass the expectations. If you are responding to an RFP, this is easy because the requirements have been outlined. Ensure that you respond to each of the requirements and needs. For an unsolicited business proposal, identify a niche in the organization that matches your proposition. This way, you are guaranteed an audience. More importantly, become an insider in the industry in which the organization serves. In the digital age, there is increased access to information for various sectors, you should, therefore, carry out adequate research on the trends. According to an article featured at SBA.org, to be an industry insider also means that you understand the issues facing the organization in terms of finances, management gaps and operations (https://www.sba.gov/starting-business/write-your-business-plan). This is to ensure that your propositions are right on target.

Qualifications
Highlight your qualifications because you are competing against other competent teams. In all types of business proposals, the client expects that you are an expert in the field you are seeking partnership. For instance, if you want to supply goods or develop materials for an organization, you must show the client that you are offering the best quality in the market. Exhibit how the product is going to add value to the organization in terms of its supply chain, convenience and quality.

For an unsolicited proposal, it is upon you to create demand in the client’s mind by showing the value of your services to the organization. Then go ahead and show your expertise in meeting this demand. For instance, if you are seeking a partnership or a joint venture, clearly elaborate your expertise and unique selling proposition. Point out how the organization will enhance its processes and financial gains in the partnership and the core competencies that you will deliver. At the end of the day, the client’s biggest concern is financial results.

Presentation
Remember, the idea here is to transform you business proposal writing into a competitive advantage. Also, it is important to understand that the quantities and labor categories are clearly stated. Therefore, you cannot use them to differentiate your business from competitors. However, according to tips given at the SBA website, it matters how you position yourself in the eyes of the tendering board
(https://www.sba.gov/starting-business/write-your-business-plan/marketing-sales). One of the strategies for winning in the eyes of the board is through presentation. The only thing that you have to help you win the contract at this point is the proposal. Describe your qualifications, methodologies, processes and quotations with clarity and coherence. Let it be systematic according to the standard guidelines and the structure given under the RFP. Generate documents with a consistent look and feel. They should match the corporate identity of your business.

The client is weighing proposals from a number of bidders and does not have time to search for solutions from numerous and vague sources. Arrange information in terms of priority and importance as guided by the RFP. For an unsolicited proposal, ensure a systematic flow that will create an interest in your proposition. You may load your proposal with billion dollar ideas but if it is not physically appealing; your competitors are likely to win the client over. Avoid treating the quality of the business proposal as an afterthought to be dealt with at the end of the process. Instead, invest in organizing your proposal writing around it from the start.

Use of information technology
The digital age presents lots of opportunities for your business, but at the same time it places a lot of demand and expectations on the business. Today, stakeholders including customers, business partners and investors judge you by your ability to use technology to enhance business processes. Business proposal writing is one of the most important selling processes in a company. Digital techniques that can help you develop a comprehensive proposal include having demos of your work and links to your previous services and website. Visuals are good for marketing. ClientPoint business proposal software helps you create visually impressive digital business proposals that will make your company stand out and help you win more contracts.

If you are preparing an unsolicited business proposal, use the latest technologies to protect documents. Intellectual property protection will help you in the event that your idea is used without your involvement or compensation. For instance, you can water mark documents or sign them using electronic signatures. Find out about tools and software that you can use to secure your documents.

Price or request for funding
Since the RFP standardizes most of the processes, you can only compete on price, presentation and value addition to the customer. Ensure that your prices are very competitive in terms of price vis-à-vis value. Value will be measured in terms of your ability to meet the evaluation criteria and qualifications as discussed above. Your business proposal should be able to prove the value you are offering. According to guidelines issued by the New Zealand government, look at it in terms of committing to offer the return on investment (ROI) or excellent services for the funding granted (https://www.business.govt.nz/procurement/pdf-library/agencies/guides-and-tools/Guide-to-Unsolicited-Unique-Proposals.pdf). You should also be clear on how you are going to use the funding.

Sometimes the lifeline of a business depends on a single business proposal. It could be the gateway to a contract that will keep you in business for a long time, grab the attention of a venture capitalist, or get a strategic partnership for your idea. When given a chance, ensure that you present a comprehensive business proposal to edge out competition.

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