6 Steps to Improve Your Business Proposals
Creating a proposal that will be read, assimilated and signed is a challenge all proposal writers face. Your proposal is a key element of your sales process, evaluated by many influencers, stakeholders and decision makers, so you must do everything in your power to guide them and help them understand, support and accept your project.
Do you think that 100% of your proposals were winning proposals? That they really answered the questions and articulated your project? That they really reflected your expertise and know-how? While a high-quality proposal doesn't always guarantee a win, a low-quality proposal sure does guarantee a loss.
Here we share 6 steps to help you better manage your proposal process and create proposals that evaluators want to read and award.
Working on a complex, high-priority proposal means collaborating with many contributors and managing many cross-team tasks. And you know - finding the right elements, at the right time, and nailing content accuracy is exhausting.
To overcome this time-consuming task, start by creating standard templates and a content database for your team. This allows them to quickly find, leverage and tweak up-to-date content and ensure consistency across your proposal, saving time for requirements that are truly unique to the bid. Work smarter!
You work hard on your proposal, so don't thwart client evaluation with a confusing layout! Tables without proper titles, a missing table of contents, sloppy design, a long monologue without bullet points or graphics, inconsistent margins and so on…send a bad message. That, “Your project is not important enough for us to write a proposal you want to read and defend.” While a poorly designed proposal often turns out to be a mistake or last-minute oversight, evaluators don’t care, and will not waste their time trying to understand. They’ll end up skimming your proposal and quickly moving on to the next bid.
Setting up a layout within your brand guidelines and proposal’s specifications upfront will eliminate formatting mistakes. Automating your layout will eliminate last-minute oversights. You’ll save time and produce a quality, easy to read and understand proposal that evaluators want to invest their time in for evaluation.
A quality layout means a quality proposal that evaluators want to read because it is easy to evaluate and stands out from the competition.
Creating a proposal is a collaborative process. Each collaborator must manage their version of the content as it evolves while remaining in sync with content across the proposal. Real-time collaboration between different contributors across different teams is an impossible task with a classic document editing tool.
Leveraging a tool that provides a collaborative database makes proposal writing much more efficient. An up-to-date database means contributors can leverage accurate information and skip the blank page. Several contributors working simultaneously on the same document avoids multiple versions and the tedious consolidation that can delay submission.
Does your proposal meet your needs more than those of your client? The key to a strong proposal is to focus it on your customer’s needs, from start to finish.
Your proposal should be about them, not you. It should reflect the impact you will have on their business, not on your product or service.
To achieve this, you must research and fully understand your customer. What are their needs and requirements? What challenges do they face? What do they hope to achieve? Now, develop your argument by highlighting how your solution will help them achieve their goals.
When it comes to writing a proposal that seals the deal, clarity is key! Show how your offer is truly superior to the competition by developing a proposal that presents relevant information according to your customer's needs and requests. Use clear and concise language to articulate how your solution addresses their needs and requirements. And do not hesitate to use illustrations or diagrams to clarify your point.
Remember that evaluators screen many proposals. Wordy paragraphs, long sentences and a confusing plot are the last thing they want to read. Help them read and understand by:
Ready to hit the “send” button? Wait a minute. Have you and your team taken the time to proofread the proposal several times to avoid errors and inaccuracies? Your proposal introduces your client to the importance you place on their project and the quality of work they can expect from your company. A typo here and there leaves a bad impression. So does erroneous, obsolete and conflicting information. This is the danger zone, where evaluators will give up and quickly switch to the competitor's offer.
Streamline your proposal creation process using a solution that offers an integrated workflow. It will be easier to keep the team on track and give you more time to focus on reviews that improve quality.
The key to creating the “perfect” proposal is to gradually improve your creative process. Look for short-term gains while building a long-term strategy. Find the solutions that improve and optimize your bid management process. Adopting a document solution with a database for your next proposal will increase efficiency and quality for the win.
Amo has a degree in Applied Chemistry, and 20 years sales experience working in media, adtech and data insight solutions. He enjoys spending time with his children, watching his son play cricket, and cooking with his daughter. He is passionate about powerlifting and most mornings you can find him in a gym lifting heavy weights.