When you receive a new RFP (request for proposal), it’s tempting to hurry through the process and return it to your prospect ASAP.
The idea of new business is thrilling, but it won’t materialize if you don’t spend the time and preparation it takes to create a winning proposal.
Tips on Writing a Winning Business Proposal
Now is the time to edge out your competition and crush your proposal. Here are a few of the best business proposal tips to help close more deals.
1. Start by Asking the Right Questions
When you get a new RFP, stop and ask yourself a few questions before you proceed. Is this prospect a good fit for your agency or business? If not, you’ll save yourself and the prospect a lot of time and frustration if you decline the proposal at the outset.
As impossible as it seems to turn down a potential sale, a poor fit client will only bring bigger problems.
Another question to ask is if the prospect is ready to purchase something now, or if they are just testing the waters.
- Has the budget been approved?
- Who's the decision maker?
Finding the answers to questions like these will help you frame the RFP appropriately and save you from disappointment if things fall through.
2. Don't Focus on the Sale... Focus on the Prospect!
One of the most overlooked business proposal ideas is to keep your prospect’s problem as the central focus when you write your response and not your product or service.
It’s tempting to give a sales pitch at every turn, but business proposals that stick to key messages, creative solutions to problems and a “what’s in it for the prospect” approach will have the edge over proposals that read like a sell sheet.
3. Purpose of the Proposal
Before you begin your business proposal outline, make sure you thoroughly understand the content of the proposal and what's being asked of you.
- Is there true need?
- Do you fully understand their problem or challenge?
- Can you position your product or service as a solution?
Also, are there any surprise decision makers who might require different information than the others? Look for patterns in both people and the information requested and write accordingly.
4. Your Proposal Should be the Best Solution
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking “I don’t want to give away all of my best stuff in my proposal—I’ll wait for the sales presentation.” However, you may never get the chance to present.
Prospects typically request proposals from many vendors. One of the hardest principles to follow, but possibly the best business proposal tip, is to present every bit of information as if it’s your last chance to talk to the prospect.
Tell your story and tell it well—every time you get the opportunity.
5. Your Proposal is a Tool not a Technical Document
When you are an expert in the services or product you offer, it’s easy to get caught up in the web of jargon and corporate lingo. The problem is, it leaves you sounding exactly like everyone else and speaking over someone's knowledge (possibly).
A good rule of thumb is to write your proposal, step away from it for a bit, and then edit it at least once to remove worthless jargon and phrases and increase the readability and relatability of the content.
6. Slow Down & Don't Cut Corners
While it might be tempting to “improve” the prospect's business proposal outline—don’t.
Even if you see opportunities to improve the order of questions, the information asked or the formatting of the document. If you, you’ll only broadcast to the prospect that you're not listening to their needs.
Follow the business proposal topics listed, and in the requested order as best you can.
Over to you
There is nothing quite like the excitement of competing for new business. By following these simple tips and keeping your prospect’s needs at the forefront of your proposal, you’ll increase your close rate and gain a reputation for professionalism. Good luck!