It’s Not About You
Welcome to the final installment of the proposal writing series in which I will attempt to tie everything together. A quick summary: proposals need to be written to close business, and they need to be structured around your client’s needs. Remember, it’s not about you…
Four Categories of Content That Proposals Must Contain
There are four categories of content that proposals must contain to increase your chances of success:
1. Proof that you understand the client’s business problem. Any decision that involves spending money creates some anxiety. Clients do not want their time or their money wasted. One way to ease their anxiety is to assure them that you clearly understand their issues, needs, objectives, or values. Whatever is driving the client’s interest, you must demonstrate that you have based your solution on it.
2. A specific approach to solve the problem and produce positive results that is clearly stated. You must spell out what you will do for the client, not just describe your products or services. What you recommend should undeniably link what you can do with what the client needs to get positive results.
3. A convincing reason for the client to choose your solution over any others. Here’s how to improve your chances they’ll choose your solution over your competitor’s. This is your value proposition. Without a clear statement that specifies how your approach will offer a higher return on investment, faster payback, or something similar that matters to the client, you may not win the proposal.
4. Demonstrate your ability to deliver on time and on budget. You want to show evidence that you can really do what you say you can. Effective proof includes case studies, testimonials, references and resumes of key personnel. You may also include project plans, management plans, company expertise, and other forms of substantiation like white papers, awards, or third-party recognition. Avoid throwing in everything. Again, focus on what the client cares about and pick the items to include accordingly.
Finally, language within your proposal is paramount. And again it is pretty straightforward. Be clear and direct, not passive or elusive. Sentences should be short and informative, not complicated. Put the most important item upfront: your client. Speak to them, about them, and make it obvious how you can help them.
Good luck, be well and be good to yourselves and your words…