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7 Short and Sweet Tips to Create a Winning Proposal

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Tore Medhaug



3 min

Writing an effective business proposal has the potential to lay the foundation for a long-term business relationship, but it can be a challenge to write. You have to make sure you present an honest and convincing proposal without making it look like just another sales pitch.

There's more to creating a proposal than just writing. Before you can get to the point of putting words on paper or screen, you have to put a lot of additional effort into it. When responding to RFPs, you must be strategic in order to be successful. Once you know what makes a winning proposal, however, the whole process becomes less intimidating and more efficient.

The following proven strategies will help you write an effective proposal.

1. Write Clearly and Concisely

It is common in business writing, and in business proposals especially, to use jargon, excessive verbiage, and run-on sentences to show how smart you are. Don't do it. Keep it short. Get your point across and move on. Always keep in mind that the evaluators will have little or no idea what you are proposing when they begin reading your proposal, so you have to explain the process step-by-step. To do this, start at the beginning and make each point clearly, simply, and logically. Take a broad view and drill down from there.

2. Present a Compelling Argument and Overcome Potential Obstacles

Proposals are, at the core, sales documents. Here, you present your company in the best light, ensuring that the prospective client will find you irresistible. How do you do that? Having the most compelling facts and arguments to support your claim is the best strategy. You should have a theme and reinforce it repeatedly. Take the reader down a path that leads only to one conclusion: hiring you is the best option for them. You should also consider the readers' perspective. Consider their possible counterarguments and handle them honestly. This is what makes you trustworthy.

3. Put Your Personality Into It

Too often, business proposals are devoid of character and individuality, as if they are written by some robot programmed to be flat, boring, and unoffensive. Don't be afraid to show who you are; let your personality shine through. Sure, you need to follow some business conventions, but don't forget to show the reader who you really are as well. Let them know you are passionate about their business and yours.

4. Make Wise Use of Graphics

Be careful not to swamp a perfectly good proposal with excess graphics. Yes, graphics are essential; they can clarify an idea, liven up a proposal, and allow the reader to focus on something other than text. That's smart. Just don't go overboard. It is important that the graphics reinforce rather than detract from the sale.

Read More: Proposal Software + CPQ Software: A Sales Enablement Powerhouse

5. Avoid Overselling

Don't exaggerate. Credibility is lost the moment you cross the line between understandable pride and obnoxious overstatement. Once readers think you're not being honest with them, they may begin to doubt your entire proposal and what's to come. Keep your statements on the safe side of overstatement in order to avoid this unenviable fate.

6. Avoid Boilerplate Language and Catch Typos

Having your proposal appear as a rehash of boilerplate data and text is another surefire way to lose readers. It is certainly acceptable to use persuasive information from elsewhere, but do so in moderation and without making it obvious. The proposal should appear as if it were custom-made for this particular client. While you're personalizing the proposal, triple-check for typos to make sure the text is free of errors. Why would the prospective client trust you with their project if it's obvious that you didn't give the proposal your best effort?

7. Always Keep the Evaluator in Mind

Remember that a proposal is a sales tool, and Sales and Marketing 101 states: Benefits, not features. As a final note, talk about price after you have grabbed your reader's attention with your crisp writing, powerful arguments, supporting graphics, and a multitude of benefits. When that’s done, you can go in for the sale.


A proposal is not a simple piece of writing. It must follow the client’s format
and structure, answer specific questions, match evaluation criteria, give details to help the client understand your value and benefits, differentiate yourself from your competitors, and keep the evaluator’s attention – all at the same time.


Author picture

Tore Medhaug

Tore holds a Technical degree and has a variety of business courses from BI Norwegian Business School. He has previously worked for different oil service companies and IT companies. Tore used to be Norway's biggest self-proclaimed golf talent, and also has a big passion for Ice hockey.

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