Proposals are something that is needed by many different people in many different area’s. Proposals are used quite a lot for sales and marketing, to help answer a the questions that a client is looking for in their project. This need for a proposal can easily move from sales to the internal needs in a business, as to the business case for a project to occur or not, and many other different needs for many other businesses and organizations.
The key to creating proposals is, creating proposals that succeed. While there is always going to be some degree of proposals that are not successful, because of the pure fact often multiple proposals are sought for the same project, and really only one can be successful. So in creating your proposal it comes down to making it the best potential proposal for the project, or sale. So take a look at the follow ten tips to try and fine tune your proposal to come out on top.
- Detail your experience – One thing that you will find out quite quickly is that client’s are not to keen to take your word for things. You need to be able to back up why you can make a certain claim. If you say you can provide the best service in an area, then you need to provide where you have gained this experience or the qualifications to back this up.
- Write for your Audience – When it comes to technical information, especially you need to be aware of the people that you are writing for and their potential understanding of the technical details. If you put in as many technical details as possible, and the people who will read the proposal are not aware of what they all mean, you can be behind before you even begin. The best solution is to work on a mid point, include some technical details, but also make the majority of things easy enough to understand by someone who does not know the details. Also work towards providing plain English, explanation rather then those laden with industry specific terms, unless you also plan to provide a reference so they can understand the terms.
- Focus your proposal – When you are creating a proposal you need to know what the ultimate outcome for the project is. Surprisingly, it is often not to purchase a new product. It is often something more specific, be it longer term cost savings, increase their ability to compete, meeting certain regulatory requirements. There are many different specific outcomes for a purchase or a project, within in many companies, and knowing what these are and focusing on the features that actually achieve them can be a big positive in your proposal.
- Involve the Experts – Unless you are the person that will be implementing what you are selling or following through as the project manager for a project, and know the minor details. It can be very worth your time to get the opinion of the people that will be doing the detail work once the proposal is accepted. There is nothing worse then working on a proposal and making some claims, only to find when the technician gets to installing the product, some key point has been missed, and additional costs are required to finalize the project or install.
- Draw on industry experience – The more you work in an industry the more you know about that industry. Letting clients know this can be an advantage. But more so it can be an advantage for you writing your proposals as you will find that you are more capable of recommending just what a customer is going to need. Also you will be better able to estimate project time frames.
- Substantiate the claims you make – Just like involving the experts, justifying claims that you make can be an important selling point. If you are setting dates to achieve certain outcomes, how many people will be required, will their be changes in the operations of the business, for any length of time, will certain people’s role need to be covered by others while they are on this project. There are many considerations to make and one of the biggest ones will be proving the ability of technical products.
- Include Endorsements for you or your product – The more business you do with more different people, then the more chance that you are you going to have a growing list of happy customers (if you don’t then you have a problem). You can often make use of this list by asking for recommendations, or the ability to include them on a list of referrals for your product or services, part of which you can provide with proposals for relevant products or projects similar to what you worked on with them.
- Show the Benefits to them – It is often quite easy to think of what the benefit’s of a product are, however not all the benefits are going to be relevant to all clients. Just the same with benefits of a project, different people are going to be interested in different benefits. So in any proposal look for ways to highlight the benefits which you believe will be the most relevant to the person making the decision. This is not always easy but a little extra time before you start on the proposal can make a big difference.
- Reuse the good bits of old proposal – The more that you are writing proposals for your clients, for products or projects. The more you may find pieces that overlap. If you can find parts that are common to multiple types of product proposal or that are similar for many different projects, consider reusing them. There is no point rewriting the same information every time you present if it works great written one way.
- Provide as much information as possible – The more information that you can provide, in the proposal and upfront, than the less information that you will need to look to provide later on. This is not so much to avoid the client asking questions, but trying to ensure they are able to ask just the essential questions and not a whole bunch of little things which could easily have been incorporated into the proposal.
A final point i would like to make though is that not all of these points should be covered in every single proposal, while many of them are useful across a broad range of different proposals. There will always be a time when one is not as relevant as another. For example a proposal for an internal project, may not really need to include information about your experience, it may require more focus on other people’s experience. Just like endorsements for a product will not be needed in such a proposal either.
At the end of the day though, while these are all good points to focus on the primary place that you will gain the highest potential reward from what you include in your proposal is by including high quality information, which answers the questions and provides the information that the proposal is to include.