Unlike a business plan, which is designed to direct strategy and raise capital, a business proposal is a bid-specific sales pitch to earn more work. A strong, well-written proposal can help your business thrive. A poorly-organized proposal can send a qualified lead packing. Let’s face it; this is one document you don’t want to mess up. It is important to understand that there are two primary types of business proposals; solicited and unsolicited proposals.
Solicited Business Proposals
A solicited business proposal is one that is requested by the potential contract holder. For example, a corporation or government body seeking an outside company to fulfil a project or complete a task may choose to allow companies to bid for the job. As such, a business proposal may be drafted in response to an open bid placed on the market for which other companies will also be competing for a chance to win the contract.
Unsolicited Business Proposals
Unsolicited business proposals are proposals that have not been specifically requested. They are produced on the initiative of the seller and function as a way to get the attention of a prospective client. By submitting a targeted, well-written business proposal, businesses create an opportunity to win the confidence of a strategic client; its 2021 after all and people are more informed and connected through social media.
Though its true you can’t develop a winning business proposal for every potential buyer, but with a well-practiced formula you have a better chance of winning new contracts from companies that need what your small business can offer ( for bigger organisations business proposals are more complex, hence, these steps are more specific to a small to medium scale business).
5 steps in which you can write an effective business proposal are:
Understand the concept
Understand that a proposal is a sales tool not information pack! It should be a persuasive enough to sell. The proposal must comply with the guidelines provided, if any provided. The executive summary must explain the proposed solution to a problem to grab the customer’s attention. If it does not provide the customer value and holds their attention, it will not succeed.
Research the customer
The proposal will not win if you fail to uncover the customer’s true decision criteria and decision-makers. You must therefore research the customer, preferably by interviewing people in the various groups involved in the decision, so that your proposal addresses that head on. Similarly where it is aimed at various customers, then it must be able to communicate with both groups at the same time.
A business proposal must be a clear communication of intent and ability. Customize each proposal for your intended audience and use the language (and jargon) that they would find familiar. Use simple words, they are better to convey your message; remember simpler is better! Showcase your knowledge of the prospect’s industry by using examples and analysis that is relevant to the market.
Format for Easy Scan:
We have to accept that our customers don’t read everything we write. They can’t. They are overloaded and too busy. Create a text that is easy to scan through. Preferably write bullet points, highlight important or key words that stick to their memory and title each page or section effectively for them to know what information they can skip and what they must read.
Organize the proposal:
Organize the order of your proposal efficiently in the following manner: Problem, Solution, Process, and Price.
- Problem – Know the problem your potential client is facing.
- Process – Define your process clearly for the client.
- Solution – Be sure your solution meets their needs.
- Price – Have a transparent pricing system to share at the end of a proposal.
This may, however, be modified to suit a specific client or industry. Keep it short and to the point so you may keep hold of your customers attention and offer them what they are looking for.