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Writing a Proposal

Atticus Finch says, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view, until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

Writing a winning proposal is about showing you understand what your customer needs and demonstrating that you can supply the products or services that will address those needs. It is less about telling the customer about your goods and services and how good they are. 

In other words, fit your products or services to your customer’s needs rather than trying to make your customer fit into what you want to sell them.

This is a good process to follow when writing a proposal that is not in response to a formal Request for Proposal (RFP):

  • Listen to what your customer says they want. Dig deeper and check why they need your products or services and ask how they expect the products or services to be used. 
    This way you can check that what your customer thinks they want is what they really need. 

  • Then take time to think and plan what you will write. Think about who you are writing to. Write down what you want them to think or do.   
    Picturing your customer will help you decide on content, approach, and tone. 

  • Next jot down the topics you want to include and sort them into a logical order for your customer.  
    As an example, for a reluctant customer, it might be a good idea to put the benefits of your products or services before the price. 

  • If applicable, send out requests for any information you need from other staff members as soon as possible to give you a better chance of completing your proposal in good time. 

  • Then start writing and write with a strong sense of purpose. Be clear and concise. Minimise marketing speech and maximise evidence. 

  • When you have finished, proof read your work, and get someone else to check it too as it can be hard to find your own errors.

Personally, I like to use a proposal template as this helps me ensure I include all the content I need.

For a simple proposal, these are the headings I like to use: 

  • Background  
  • Issues 
  • Customer needs
  • Solution / What we are offering
  • Benefits 
  • Time and cost estimate
  • Terms and conditions

Next time, I will give you some tips on responding to a formal Request for Proposal.

Of course, WritersInc can also help you write your proposal.