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How to Write Winning Business Proposals

A written proposal should be provided to a customer following a discussion where you gained conceptual agreement for the business deal and its general terms.

“A proposal should be a SUMMATION, not an EXPLORATION.” – Alan Weiss

Providing a proposal allows the customer to reaffirm what you have already discussed, get clearer on the options that can meet their objectives and the fees associated with these. Most importantly, a proposal allows the customer to formally sign off, so you can go forth and deliver.

If your business relies on you sending detailed quotes or proposals, follow these 9 simple steps* to articulate the value of your offering:

1. Situational appraisal: Briefly outline why the project is needed. Less is more here; one or two sentences.

2. Objectives: Document four or five things your client wants to achieve as a result of what you are offering them. Objectives should focus on problems to be solved or goals to be achieved.

3. Measures of success: Explain how you will measure progress towards achieving those objectives. Again, keep it simple and concise, but most importantly, make sure they’re measurable.

4. Value: Include the financial and non-financial benefits the customer will gain from the project.

5. Accountabilities / expectations: Briefly describe how you will work together, but don’t bog this section down with detail. If required, include standard terms and conditions as an attachment. An example of a brief summation for this section:

  • To treat each other with mutual courtesy and respect
  • To provide any required information on time
  • To communicate any concerns or issues as they arise
  • To pay our fees within our payment terms

6. Timing: When the project will start and finish.

7. Delivery: How you’ll deliver the proposed product or service. Consider two or three different options that will achieve the stated objectives to differing degrees.

8. Pricing and payment options: What it will cost for each of the options, when you’ll invoice and when payment will be due.

9. Acceptance: Where the customer identifies which option they wish to proceed with and signs to accept the proposal.

How well do your proposals fit this 9-step process? If you want help revising yours, get in touch.

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” – Wayne Gretzky

*Content adapted from Alan Weiss, author of Million Dollar Consulting

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