Putting together a business proposal for a large contract can seem intimidating or overwhelming, but if your company is right for the job it needn’t be.
Larger customers, like governmental departments and corporate divisions, often require business proposals in writing for long term and complex contracts. A written business proposal must lay out, in detail, the steps the bidder expects to take to complete the project on time and under budget. Although the process may seem daunting, many businesses obtain the bulk of their work through business proposals.
When developing a business proposal, keeping in mind the following six tips will minimize the chances for any shortfalls that could lose the contract to a competitor.
Understand the Job
Is there a written Request for Proposals (RFP) available? This document should explain what the job entails. Restate the scope of the job in the introduction of the proposal so that the client knows right from the start that this bidder is clear on what’s being asked.
Focus on The Client
What problem needs solving? For example, if the proposal is to provide group health insurance, the problem may be employee retention. Asking questions to confirm the problem may not be possible during bidding, so competitive intelligence may be required. The focus of the proposal should be on how the client’s problem will be solved.
Make it personal. If the above two points don’t do it, then make sure that the business’s, or owner’s, passion comes across in the proposal. A personal connection can make a difference in which proposal is accepted.
Most small businesses are more able to compete on value than price. If lowering the bid hinges on expectations of additional work from the same source, consider such factors as likely volume and amount of work, and whether or not it would be billed at the same discounted price. It’s often more effective to present a case why the quoted price is a better value – the client should know when a bid is unrealistically low.
Speak the Language
If technical jargon will get the point across most easily, by all means use it – but always write in the clearest language for the audience. Acronyms and scientific terminology won’t make a proposal seem more qualified if the client doesn’t understand the words – he or she is more likely to move to the one that’s written plainly.
Get as many sets of eyes to read the proposal as time will allow, because typographical errors can sink a proposal that’s otherwise worthy of consideration. Like resumes, business proposals pile up quickly in a competitive economy, and their reviewers are sometimes forced to make decisions on criteria such as correct spelling.
Regardless of its size or complexity, a business proposal at its core is a marketing piece, designed to pitch a specific package of services to a particular client. In many cases, the client will even tell you exactly what they would like to see by putting out an RFP. Use this document as a road map to writing a successful business proposal.