Business Information

6 Writing Tips For Winning Proposals

Many business owners are reluctant to respond to an advertised request for proposal (RFP) or to write up and send off unsolicited proposals even though a successful bid could mean good business. Their reluctance may be strategy based – if we win this will it overstretch us and drain our cash and time resources? But sometimes it arises from the simple feeling that “I don’t think I have the skill to write up a proposal”. Here’s 6 tips on how to go about writing a proposal that will make it easy for the recipient to grasp what you offer and decide if it’s for them or not.

1. Cover the basics the recipient will want to know:

A proposal must include clear statements on WHAT you are proposing, on HOW you plan to do it, on WHEN you plan to do it, and on HOW MUCH it is going to cost. After you have written your proposal check back and ensure they are all there and easily identifiable by the recipient.

2. Make the title count:

Use the title to sell your solution by showing how it answers to the real needs of the recipient – ‘Vandal Proof Letterboxes For Public Housing Estate’. That may take some reading between the lines – RFPs are likely to stress features whereas you need to point out the benefits.

3. Include an abstract of your solution:

An abstract (or Executive Summary) is a condensed version of the whole response placed at the beginning of the proposal. It summarizes the content and highlights the major points you want to make. Your proposal may be one among many so getting the reader’s attention early is critical. A good abstract that has no superfluous information but briefly covers the What, How, When and How Much can get your response on the short list for later detailed attention.

4. Present information logically/highlight the important points:

Proposals need to be both informative and persuasive. The best way to persuade someone is to present a logically built up case that amounts to demonstrating why yours is the best solution. Arrange the pieces of evidence so that the most important are at the beginning and work down to the least important. Bullet points, boldface type, and coloured font can all be used to highlight the most important information so that even in skimming the document these parts stand out. Charts, tables, graphs and illustrations make hard to grasp details easier to comprehend and replace paragraphs of text.

5. Write for the audience:

A winning business proposal is all about communication. Every industry has its own particular jargon. The words, terms and expressions used by engineers are different to those used in the medical profession. The proposal needs to use the terms that will be understood by the particular audience.

6. Make it look professional:

Your proposal should look like a serious document. Design a title page that includes all the relevant information (title of the proposal, the firm it is for, your company name and address, the date, and your copyright symbol) and also a relevant image of some sort. Have it printed on good quality paper by laser printer and bound in some way. The whole job can be done cheaply and professionally by a print shop.


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Business Roadmap provides practical business advice for small to medium sized businesses that are trying to overcome problems, or are trying to achieve their vision and full potential. Visit the Business Roadmap website for further information.

Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to provide valuable, useful information, Blue Mountains Web Pty Ltd. (trading as Stralia Web), Business Roadmap Pty Ltd. and any related suppliers or associated companies accept no responsibility or any form of liability from reliance upon or use of its contents. Any suggestions should be considered carefully within your own particular circumstances, as they are intended as general information only.

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