How To Create Winning Business Proposals

Were You Born To Sell...
  • your vision
  • your skills
  • your passion
  • your business
  • your perspective

..and if not, then you better learn how!

In this post, I will share the idea of writing a winning proposal. And, this is something which no business school, no consulting partner, no friend at a job, and no salesman will teach you. This is the crux of my last 10 years of having a consulting practice and it really pays off.

Assume, you have to submit a proposal to a prospect and you know their business problem and your solution architects have found a relevant solution to the same. The solution may consist of the following.

  • a product
  • a service
  • a mix of product and associated services

It is also assumed that you have the following information available to you.

  1. Official proposal template with company brand
  2. Permission to use client's logo
  3. Commercial quote
  4. DIAR
  5. Solution HLD
  6. Project plan with key deliverables
  7. Proposed governance model with names, if possible
  8. Some graphics with permission to use in proposals
  9. Quality 2 hours

To start with, there will  first be a cover page of the proposal with a full page relevant image (generally relevant to business/client's portfolio like showing banking booth for BFSI client etc.). Place the title on the page mentioning "Proposal <to client name> for XYZ Service". Date and version of the document are optional but do look good.

Next page will have company's copyright/exclusivity disclaimer followed by a detailed index. While creating the index, just keep major sections and subsections only, as this is just a proposal and not a detailed contract. Even if you have to add detailed terms and conditions, please add them as an annex. Ideally, the flow of the document would be -

  • Cover page
  • Disclaimer
  • Index
  • Version history of document with authorisation detail
Executive Summary

This section is the most important part of your proposal, so frame it wisely. Use positive words and make sure that you are able to put a generic context of the client's problem area as a normal/complex demand of enterprise of today. Never mention a problem as a problem, convert it to demand or requirement and then explain the requirement in some of the key objectives, which are to be achieved by means of a solution. Progressively write that your company has immense experience in offering solutions in this problem area and has been serving the clients of a similar nature since XX years. This will boost the client's confidence in your company's products, services or collectively; the solutions.

Next, write the key value additions to your offering, which are generally the unique selling points and how does they will help the business to grow further. Remember you must know the relationship between your offering vs problem area vs main business. There are different problems to one or every business, those inhibit the growth in one way or another. That is what you must explore, and then map your solution to the core of it. A successful winning proposal starts from this point onwards. Also remember this section must speak to numbers, as the different parties in a company, look at different aspects of a proposal. Following is a generic list of the interest areas of different executives,
  • CEO - Commitment, Quality and Risks
  • CFO - Cost, Optimisation, Savings, Agility, Customer Ref
  • CIO - Reporting, Modularity, Integration with existing, ROI, Customer Ref
  • COO - Future growth, Governance, Skills, Automation, Issues (if any)
Once you have the target audience and their perspective in mind, then assume that half the battle is won. Now, the following part of the proposal will have a detailed view of the solution.
  • Solution Overview
    Overview of solution depicting main features and technology platform it leverages etc.

  • Scope
    Scope of service or solution, to remove any ambiguity in the understanding

  • Approach
    Response to "How many solutions are there? And Why did you pick this one over others?"

  • Key Modules
    Explanation of design of each module/components and depicting their to-be state in the client's business landscape. Also, explain the design principles with required schematics

  • Implementation Strategy
    Explain the implementation methodology with the following information,

    • Implementation Team
    • Governance Model
    • Implementation/Transition/Transformation Plan
    • Key deliverables
    • Assumptions and dependencies on client (try to convert all of your risks and issues into assumptions)
    • Service exclusions
    • Support Strategy

  • Commercial Section

    • Quotation
    • Bill of Material
    • Commercial T&Cs

  • About Us
    Write down a brief summary of your company and offerings. Then in a subsection highlight the offerings, appreciation, and rewards achieved for offering this particular solution/service. Also, attach customer references highlighting the numbers of cost savings, automated processes and other value adds to your solutions

  • Annexe
    Any annex you would like to add will go in this section

Once you are done with the document, sit with the marketing team (if you are not well versed with graphic design and color pattern selection) and add different sections at different places, highlighting customer quotes, showing savings in numbers, emphasizing the need of the solution and that added service and other futuristic views.

Then, add headers and footers as necessary and save the proposal document. Run the same with your peer group and ask for suggestions. Once you are done with reviews, you must submit it to the client and wait for the appointment to explain the proposal.

I am sure this post has given the insight into the effective proposal writing. Please like and share because sharing is caring.

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