Small Business Resource Power Point Series Writing a Proposal to a Client or Prospect
Stand Out From The Crowd In writing a proposal you are trying to persuade your readers that your company can offer the best product or service for their needs. It is essential then that your proposal stands out from the crowd. Some guidelines follow to help you achieve this.
Research your Client Find out all you can about your client, and ascertain what they expect from you. Your proposal must match their criteria as closely as possible. Also investigate: -
Investigate Do they have a specific problem they are attempting to solve? Do they have a solution in mind? Are they willing to pay for quality, or would they rather go for a ‘bargain basement’ type product or service?
Also Consider: - What part of this project is most important to them, schedule, quality or cost? Will a committee or an individual make the final decision? A committee may have differing priorities, and you could find yourself trying to meet incompatible demands.
Watch out for Jargon Will your proposal use a lot of technical language? You must ascertain the level of knowledge your readers have and take this into account when writing your proposal. Consider providing an executive summary written in non-technical language, or a glossary of terms that explains those terms used.
Requirements Catalogue Obtain a list from your client of everything he wants from your product or service. If this is a large project with many people involved this list could be quite long with conflicting requirements included. If so, ask them to specify what requirements are essential and which would simply be nice to have.
Setting out your Proposal Construct your proposal in a logical manner and ensure it has a beginning, a middle, and an end. The beginning is your introduction. In it present and summarise the problem and your solution. Include the benefits the client will receive and the cost of your solution.
Describe your Solution The middle is where the main body of your text goes. Explain the details of your solution, how the tasks will be achieved, what materials, personnel, and equipment will be needed, and start and end dates. Also include your program of implementation and a detailed cost breakdown for the entire job.
Beware! Be careful not to make promises you cannot keep, and don’t be tempted to under price your work just to clinch the deal. You could end up out of pocket, and could ruin your reputation if you cannot deliver on time.
Don’t forget the Ending The end of your proposal is of course the conclusion. Emphasise the benefits to your clients and urge the reader to action. Add an expiry date, this will lend a sense of urgency and save you from waiting around for months for your answer! Be encouraging and confident in tone.
Conclusion When your proposal is complete, think about adding space for signatures - to turn the proposal into a contract. Don’t forget to include a covering letter, title page, a bibliography (if relevant), and qualifications (of writers and/or project implementers).
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