We’ve made proposal writing easy both with our proposal templates and proposal university. However, if you’re still on the fence, or need a bit more guidance, we’ve collected all of the worries first-time proposal senders have and we’re here to help you figure them all out.
Our step-by-step process will show you what your main focus points are, and how you can figure out your messaging and price to secure an easy approval of your proposal.
Complying with the RFP
The first thing you need to do is read the request for proposal (RFP) and truly understand what is asked of you. They are usually created by government agencies to keep a fair bidding process.
RFPs provide the outline of the contract terms, information on the organization, a detailed look at the bidding process, the desired format of the proposal as well as guidance on how bids should be formatted.
Read the RFP thoroughly and make sure you understand everything you’re supposed to do. Only then can you start working on your proposal. Understanding all of the tasks that need to be performed will give you a push in the right direction as to organizing your workload.
Figuring out what to write about
Create an outline consisting of an executive summary, the explanation of the process you’re going to go through to achieve the set goal, the timeline of your process, some kind of social proof like a case study or client reviews, the pricing, and a list of terms and conditions. After you’ve written your outline, make sure to end it with a CTA.
You can always expand your outline, however, these are the necessary chapters every successful proposal should have. Once you have created an outline filled with all the items you want to write about, you can let out a sigh of relief, because the complicated part is over.
Now you can easily fill in all the parts of your proposal. For a more detailed tutorial, check out our blog on how to write a business proposal.
Figuring out how to say what you want to say
Don’t be afraid to show your personality while writing the proposal. It will help you stand out and make your proposal memorable. You just have to make sure to write in a way your client will understand.
Yes, you want to come across knowledgeable and show of your expertise, but if you’re using terminology and jargon your clients don’t understand, you’re creating more problems for yourself.
It’s crucial to write your proposal in a way that doesn’t leave any loose ends, meaning that nothing you’ve written can be misunderstood. Your proposal should also be able to stand on its own, without additional resources to help you get your point across.
If you’re struggling with this, just go back to the RFP and see what kind of terminology they used and how well do they understand your field.
Figuring out what to offer
It goes without saying that you need to figure out what you’re going to offer before you start writing your proposal since it should be obvious every step of the way. The first thing you need to do is identify the components of your proposal. Once you have a breakdown, describe each item on your list.
Write about why every item is essential for your client, and how it relates to the bigger picture. For example, if you’re writing a proposal for a website, explain the benefits of having a website, how it can speed up certain processes, like sales, and bring in more revenue than the company is making now.
Make sure to pinpoint the exact problem your potential client has and how you are going to help them. Present them with a timescale of your process and the estimated ROI. Once you’ve done that, you can confidently start working on your pricing chapter, knowing that you’ve already presented the value of your services.
That kind of approach goes a long way with customers. If they see the value of your process and ROI first, they won’t judge your pricing as harshly as they would otherwise.
Articulating your bid strategies
Every segment of your pricing strategy should be transparent. Your pricing or better called – investment chapter should list every service you offer with individual prices and a combined price at the end.
These segments should be agreed upon before you start writing your proposal. If you’re submitting a proposal to a government agency, their RFP already states all the services they need. Your job is to price them reasonably and give context to their prices.
If you’re experienced in your field, you already know how much your competition charges, so you can easily find a reasonable price point. Some companies have a set number of services and then on top of that offer additional optional services. Others go for differently priced packages that allow clients to find the best solution for them.
We don’t recommend the latter because our research shows that proposals with a single offer fare better. If you present your potential client with just one choice without upsells or packages, you’ll sell for a 16,3% higher fee than offers with an initial cost.
If you are working on a proposal with a team, make sure to give them a different deadline than the actual one. Make sure they get you their work a few days before the deadline so that you can go through it all and make the necessary changes.
Once you delegate all the work and make an outline of your proposal, the hard part is behind you. You can confidently work on your part of the proposal knowing that it will all come together nicely.
Passing the review
The last thing on your checklist is the final review. Go through all the items in the RFP and make sure your proposal included all of them. Also don’t forget to follow all the instructions on formatting and design.
Make sure to give the final version to your colleagues and see if they find it understandable and easy to read. Once all that is done, send your proposal with a nicely worded but brief email and hope for positive results.