winning proposals how to write them and get results

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Winning proposals how to write them and get results bpf file business plan

Winning proposals how to write them and get results

This one number may seem reasonable to some clients and shocking to others. To ensure all clients understand the number, break down the costs. The additional details allow the client to understand your solution and your value. Separating the costs also allows clients to understand higher investment areas. Your overall proposal should support each budget item by a clear client benefit. This order keeps the audience in mind.

The proposal tells the story of why your solution is the best, and the About Us section is the compelling last line, not the opener. You can be creative in this section. It should provide contact information, background on your company, the key personnel on the project. It can also include previous statistics, case studies, or sample work that would provide convincing evidence of past success stories in similar projects.

Graphics can make it easier for the reader to understand your proposal. They can also be so poorly designed or flashy that they detract from the project proposal. Graphics can help make a positive first impression. If there is a graphic designer at your company, you should ask them for advice before you start writing.

They may have a template or guidelines to follow. Understanding the difference between good and bad graphics can be challenging. Tufte, a statistician and professor emeritus of political science, statistics, and computer science at Yale University, has spent his career studying the most effective way to communicate data. Graciously, he has condensed his knowledge into four guidelines for visual information representation :.

Graphical Excellence To produce a document that employs graphic excellence, it must be useful. Tufte emphasizes the transformation of data and information into a form that is most accessible to the audience. Your proposal should be aesthetically pleasing to the reader, while allowing the reader to quickly interpret its contents. Examples: Employ a font that is both beautiful and legible.

Never use a font that looks sleek but obscures the text, making the proposal more difficult to read. Beautiful visuals tell a great story. Tufte reminds us that this story must still be true. This removal may or may not be intentional, but it results in an inaccurate document. Ensure you maintain the integrity of your work through the entire proposal development process, including in the graphical representation.

Examples: Select graphics photographs, images, charts, etc. Do not use a photograph or stock image of a deliverable that is not your own or that you cannot reproduce. Great graphics do more with less. Tufte highlights this concept through a unique ratio of data-to-ink. His guidance is to incorporate as much data as possible in the least amount of ink. By maximizing the ratio, more information can be conveyed to the reader in less space. This level of graphic communication requires additional effort on the part of the writer.

However, the payoff can be significant when your client instantly understands the value you provide through your graphics. Examples: Transform data in a paragraph of text or a data table into a graphic representation. Analyze the data to include vital data and remove the extraneous. Tufte is not calling for the most beautiful graphics. Tufte is calling for the most effectively simple graphics. As a writer, you have to digest a lot of information and present it most effectively.

Text, graphs, tables, photographs, and icons are all tools to communicate your message. Use the most persuasive tool to ensure your client is captivated and excited to work with you. Example: Replace a lengthy explanatory paragraph with a graphic or photograph of your previous work.

The fine print falls at the end. Many companies have standard proposal terms and conditions to insert. Other companies may not require this information as the details will be negotiated upon selection. The client and the industry will define the content included in this section. You can read a critique of our favorite proposal templates in this blog post. Online proposal software is growing in availability and popularity. There is a range of providers who bring the in-house template into the online space.

This format allows for cloud-based proposal editing, pre-designed templates, and interactive proposals. We reviewed and tested many proposal software tools. After deep reviews, we preferred Qwilr and Proposify. We use and recommend Proposify for our proposals and it has reduced our time on each proposal, creates a very attractive proposal, and the reporting metrics help sales enormously.

Qwilr is a good product but geared toward visual presentation, so this is the ideal tool if your services would benefit from a more visual presentation — real estate management, architecture, retail, food service, etc. The formatting of the downloaded PDF distorts so this tool is best only if your clients will be fully viewing the proposal online, not as a PDF file. Proposify contains a document library of sections that can be updated and reused, saving much time while still creating a truly custom, tailored proposal.

Proposify supports videos, formatting enhancements, and variable pricing. Additionally, reports indicate the number of times and the duration that proposal sections were viewed, which provides invaluable sales insight. In addition to a web view, Proposify downloads a clean PDF version of the proposal.

This is the proposal software tool we use. Here is a video that shows the reporting functions of Proposify:. Language or content that worked work for one client may be unimpressive to another. Yet, it can be too easy to re-use template information without revamping for the new audience.

The template can be a tool, but it should not always be used. Some proposals will fall easily into an existing template. Some proposals will need to be started from scratch. The preparation phase will allow the writer to determine if a template is appropriate.

Ensure that you have multiple individuals proofread the document. An easy way to lose a bid is by having text that is clearly copied from a previous proposal. A major consideration for template modification is a request for proposal RFP response. Many RFPs indicate the desired order and details of the proposal. The document should then match the RFP so that the client can easily find the appropriate information.

This response may mean that the Overview may use headers that match RFP specifications. RFP codes or numbers may be incorporated into the Deliverables text. A careful review of the RFP for formatting information will ensure this step is completed properly. All business writing is purposeful. Its goal may be to persuade, educate, or advise, depending on the audience and the document.

It is a formal style that maintains accessibility to the reader. All proposals are written using business writing style. Your proposal is intended to sell your company so it must be persuasive. The text should be crafted to elevate your solution above others. Use strong, convincing language as you present your concept.

Including positive words or phrasing will add to the appeal of the proposal. Clients want to see positive results and successful projects. Positivity from the proposal itself reads well. While persuasive and positive, the text must also be realistic. Only accurate information that can be completely delivered should be included.

Vague statements will damage your chances of winning as they do not provide the client with clarity or confidence. Over-promising may win a bid, but the results will likely be under-delivered. Failing to meet deliverables will damage the long-term relationship with the client and tarnish your reputation in the industry. To ensure your language is realistic, be precise in your text.

Use specific terms to identify the strategy and results. These details allow the client to understand clearly what they will receive upon accepting your offer. Ensure your proposal makes the image of your winning solution crystal clear.

Precise: The website header and logo design work will be provided in both web-ready and editable files within one month of offer acceptance. Your proposal should include all the required and useful information, without any fluff. Remove extraneous words, sentences, or even sections that do not add value to your reader.

The active voice is stronger and easier to read. It is the natural choice for business proposal writing. Passive: The materials will be delivered to the site by our trained operators. Another common mistake in proposals is writing to sound impressive. Of course, a proposal needs to impress the reader, but for the right reasons. Extravagant or highly-technical text actually causes the reader to be less engaged with the text.

It is more difficult to understand and therefore less effective at communicating the information. Simple wording will ensure the text stays accessible. As always, keep the audience in mind and write in the simplest terms appropriate for the reader. Avoid jargon. Terminology specific to an industry is confusing to an unfamiliar reader. Use common terms or thorough explanations to ensure the audience can understand.

Simple: Our website review will ensure great user experience throughout the site by revising the design and organization. However, the level of formality depends on the industry and the existing relationship with the client. If the client is entirely new, maintain a formal but friendly tone. If the document is for a repeat client, allow the existing relationship to guide the level of formality.

It may be more relaxed or personal, if appropriate. Often, the proposal will be given a first quick review. If it meets certain guidelines, then it will be read more thoroughly in the next phase of evaluation. Another process may be that a thorough review is completed and the top bids sent to an executive for a fast review and decision. Or, perhaps the client needs to quickly check a strategy detail to discuss amongst colleagues.

The ease of reading your proposal may be a differentiating factor from a competitor. Great content needs a great stage. The following general guidance will create an accessible and inviting document. Divide your text into appropriate sections and craft a clear, guiding title for each heading. Add a division wherever the proposal text naturally changes topic.

These changes need to be documented with headings for the reader for easy reference. A table of contents provides the complete outline of a lengthy document, including all headings and subheadings. White space is pleasing to the eye. It appears as sleek and modern and makes the text accessible. Large blocks of text or content without white space makes a document feel cluttered. The reader gets overwhelmed with information and can start to skim.

There are many ways to add white space to a text document. Adding additional spaces between paragraphs or headings, adjusting margins, and even font change are useful tactics. Another highly valuable tactic is:. It is clearly important as it stands alone. This formatting trick should be used carefully to emphasize only the most essential elements.

As demonstrated above, lists and tables add value to your proposal. There are many natural places where lists or tables can be used. A list presented within a sentence and comparative data would be best presented in these formats.

Our Facebook campaign fee includes advertisement design, Facebook Ad charges, and staff administration. The list or table can be followed by narrative text to provide additional context to the reader. When your client receives your proposals, they should want to open it up right away. The look of the document must be professional but striking. Visual appeal can be added through the use of color, images, fonts, and layout design.

They make an important first impression before any word is read. Proposals need to be audience-focused, accurate, persuasive, competitive, well-formatted, and more. A review catches issues or errors that could either lose the bid or cause costly future misunderstandings in a winning one. Each company has its own proposal review process. They will include an iteration of the following review phases. Obviously, it must be free of grammatical and spelling mistakes. This check can be assisted through the Spelling and Grammar tools in Microsoft Word or the free online tool Grammarly.

The proposed solution must also be accurate. Triple-check timelines, budget values, material amounts, hourly estimates, and other specifics. This verification ensures that the proposed solution is clear and correct as to what you can offer the client. An incorrect statement could cost your company millions of dollars. An internal review should be completed by a colleague or supervisor.

In addition, the reviewer has a fresh look at the document and its ability to persuade. This removed examination ensures that the proposed solution and supporting materials are understandable and appealing. Overall, the proposal must make a clear and convincing ask for business. Be extremely careful to edit any passages that might contain the names of other companies for which the boilerplate was used in the past. Many proposals have been thrown out simply because the proposal-writer left the name of one of the customer's competitors in a paragraph lifted from an old proposal.

If you're serious about a proposal, I highly recommend that, in addition to doing your own in-house editing, you hire an independent copyeditor to go over the entire proposal. I use Pure-Text , but I'm sure there are other services that are almost as good. Top Stories. Top Videos. Do I know who this is? If this is the first time the customer has heard of you, your proposal will be thrown out. Is this proposal compliant? If the customer provided a template for the proposal, proposals that don't follow that template will be thrown out.

Does this proposal make sense? If the executive summary does not define the problem correctly or propose a reasonable solution, the proposal will be thrown out. Does the solution provide value? Of the proposals that met the minimum as defined above, the one that wins will be the one that provides the most value.

What is the customer's problem or issue? Why is this problem important to them? What parts of the business are affected by this problem? What corporate goals are not being achieved due to this problem? How will the customer measure the success of the solution? Of these success measures, which is most important to them? What, precisely, will we propose? How will we do this work? What proof can we offer that we are qualified and competent? What quantitative promise value proposition are we willing to make?

How can we demonstrate that the value we propose to offer is credible? Problem, need, or goal. Expected outcome. Solution overview. Call to action.

PROFESSIONAL BUSINESS PLAN WRITERS WEBSITES FOR COLLEGE

This makes it clear what the client has to do in order for us to begin working together. This section is important because being straightforward about what you will need access to and why will prevent many future headaches you may face. I generally include three major requirements in this section:. This ensures that I have the tools I need in order to set up conversion tracking and place any pixels necessary. With Google Analytics access, this allows me to create goals related directly to the channel-specific conversions and, therefore, have an additional layer data and truth in my reporting.

In some instances, I will include a section that outlines the timeline of events in order to launch proposed campaigns. This, again, allows the client to understand what needs to be done on both of our ends in order to get everything kicked off. Many prospects that you will connect with are very eager and sometimes impatient to get started.

This section makes it clear what needs to be done, when it will be done, and when everything will be launched. This section is dedicated solely to how the client will be charged, including an explanation of your rate and when you send invoices.

You provide more detail by adding multiple layers of services and what they cost respectively. In my experience, the more transparent the better. I typically organize this section as a table:. I suggest setting up a call or meeting to go over the proposal with them and answer any questions they may have about it.

Sending them the proposal in written form and then going over it with them in person is much better than doing one or the other in my opinion. My reasoning for this is that it allows the prospect to read your proposal and digest the information on their own. With time in between the proposal being sent and your follow-up call, they have time to think about what they have read. Once you have the call with them and review it together, you can alleviate any apprehensions they may have or explain things a little better for them.

This may seem contrary to some sales beliefs about limiting time. Many would advise you to present the proposal in person all at once. I want the proposal to sell itself and then offer to provide any clarity afterward. In some instances, once you complete the pre-proposal information, may get access to pre-existing accounts to audit them.

I would suggest keeping your account audit and proposal separate from each other. Having them together may result in information overload for the prospect. Have your audit separate with concise notes, takeaways, and solutions. Use the primary courses of action from the audit and integrate it within your proposal.

One clear distinction I want to make is that in my process, I do not draft the proposal and contract together. The proposal should act as an extension of your sales process. The contract comes after the proposal is accepted and pertains to the legal details regarding compensation, non-competition, and other details agreed upon in the proposal. With the steps and tips I've provided in this post, you now have what it takes to write business proposals that turn prospective clients into paying clients.

There was a lot to cover, so let's finish off with a recap:. Before writing the proposal, gather your information: The prospect's key objectives, goals, challenges, budget, industry, resources, and more. Then follow these steps. Brett McHale is the founder of Empiric Marketing, a digital marketing agency dedicated to scaling startups through paid search and social. Home Blog. Last updated: June 4, Strategies for Agencies. Brett McHale. Quickly identify opportunities for your clients.

Sign up to get our top tips and tricks weekly! Sign Me Up! Related Content. Regardless of the length, though, there are some necessary steps you should take and some standard features that your proposal should include. As you read these next sections, you may find it helpful to refer to the sample proposal later in this document for further clarification and examples.

This is important particularly for organizations that receive several different proposals at a time. Stating the theme or the reason for the proposal helps to ensure that your proposal will be routed to the appropriate personnel. The theme should be one of the first things that your prospect sees.

If your proposal is in a report format, a proposal title should appear on a cover page or as the headline to your proposal followed by a short description on how you intend to help the prospect. If your proposal is in letter form, make sure you spell out your theme in the first paragraph.

Remember, your prospective client does not have nor will take the time to search for the reason for the proposal. Be clear and avoid cuteness. This is not a headline whose purpose is to entertain, but a description that clearly informs the prospect of the reason for the proposal.

An appropriate theme might describe how your product or service will enable the client to solve his problem or achieve his goal. Are there any other highlights you want to include? Take some time now and rough out your outline. In this section you should indicate how your proposal is organized and include a description of the prospect and his business.

Your theme can be included in this introduction. Remember, this proposal must present you as the expert — one who your prospective client is fortunate enough to hire to satisfy his needs. Like these companies, Trailer Courier Service is looking to streamline operations and eliminate wasteful functions. Draft your introduction now. Remember to include what your prospect does and how you have organized the rest of the proposal.

This is really the problem identification section. Make sure you are very clear on what the needs of your client are. If you have doubts, make a phone call to verify. You can call your prospect directly or use a surrogate, maybe the contact that referred you to the potential project or assignment. After a thorough description of the situation as perceived by the prospect, you may want to expand on the definition of the problem, if appropriate, adding your own concerns.

This will not only confirm your understanding of the situation, but also convey your depth and insight into the opportunity at hand. You may want to present this as a next phase. Identifying the problem or opportunity upfront lays the groundwork for the rest of the proposal. However, not much has changed to provide these mothers with reliable and affordable child care. Identify the current opportunity or problem. Make sure you understand the situation clearly.

Can you expand on the definition, demonstrating how you may add further value to the organization? Next, introduce the objectives and scope of work that your prospect can expect. Describe what you will do and give an accurate time-frame for delivery or completion of key items. Be aggressive, but realistic. Your prospect will be suspicious. He wants someone he can rely on, someone he can trust.

This may be the first contact with this prospect, but your intent is to make him a long-term customer. Key tasks would include:. Planning the menu — June 6 2. Ordering the food and supplies — August 12 3. Arranging for flowers — September 1 etc. Define your objectives and scope. Next, list the basic steps of your approach. You may not have the full details of his needs nor the luxury of talking to him one-on-one, and any suggestion of a possible solution could jeopardize your getting the assignment.

He may have already investigated the option and discarded it for reasons unknown to you or, worse still, take the suggestion and do it himself. Also, when you describe your approach, include the result, or deliverables, with each step. This is what your client gets upon completion of each step. The deliverable signals the end of one step and the beginning of the next. However, all steps do not need a deliverable, just the key ones.

Providing deliverables is an effective method for gauging progress on a project. Deliverables provide evidence that work is being completed and is a valuable mechanism to use when managing large projects for both the customer and supplier.

Deliverables can be either goods or services. For instance, if you are a consultant, you may provide a progress report, either orally or written, upon the conclusion of key steps in a project. On the other hand, if you are a building contractor building a home, an appropriate deliverable may be completion of a room or system plumbing, electrical, air conditioning, etc.

Think about your proposal. Take each of the basic steps and develop the details of your approach. Where appropriate, include deliverables. Next, describe the benefits the prospect can expect from your products or services.

This is a critical part of your sales proposal. When creating your list of benefits, always keep in mind what you can do to make your prospect successful, how you can make him look good. Pay special attention to his role, responsibilities, and level in the organization when developing your list.

For example, if you are selling a manager on an upgraded telephone system, make sure you know what his key challenges are maybe reliability and cost and stress how your system overcomes them high consumer confidence ratings, modular features, etc. You may have to do a little research. If the company has an active advertising campaign, find magazines or trade journals that the company may be advertising in.

What are their claims? Who are they targeting? If they are a public company, get a copy of their annual report. Your library may have a copy of one, or you can call the company directly. A reference librarian can also help you with a search of magazines and newspapers for current articles written about the company.

For example, if you are a new travel agency looking for commercial accounts, your proposals should be full of how you might save money for your clients — getting the best deals on air fare, hotels, rental cars; offering value-added services that your clients currently must do; suggesting scheduling alternatives that cut travel costs, etc.

When properly done, your benefits will implicitly justify why your goods or services should be used by the prospect. This may be stated as a final product or proposed outcome of the project. This is a very effective method for conveying the extent of the value that you bring to the prospect. A Word About Features and Benefits — People buy a product or service because they either need or want to.

In order to create a need or a want, you must promote the benefits of using your product or service. Many business owners promote the features of their business and neglect to point out how the product or service will benefit the customer.

Features enable the product or service to perform its function. Benefits are the results a person receives from using the product or service. For example, a feature for a local printer may be 24 hour service. The benefit to the customer may be increased flexibility and faster turnaround. The customer is more interested in how you can help him the benefits , not necessarily the details of your service the features.

List the key benefits of your product or service. Where you place this information in your proposal is extremely important. Any good fisherman knows the importance of the initial stages in luring a prize catch. If you include the costs too early in the proposal, it may immediately put off your prospect and cause him to reject the proposal before he has a chance to understand its impact fully.

Your estimate of charges for goods or services should be as detailed as possible so there will be no misunderstanding when the goods or services are delivered. Your prospect does not want to be surprised with hidden costs once he has accepted your proposal. Remember, you want to turn this prospect into a long-term customer. There will be costs over which you have no control. Plan for them and let your prospect know what they are. Most likely, your client will have a limited budget that he is operating within.

Be assured this does not free you from properly managing those costs; it communicates, however, that there are additional costs that must be budgeted for. Keep in mind that surprises have a knack of eroding even the best of relationships. Here, you want to remind the prospect why you are the best choice for the job. This is a good time to do some of your own PR.

Make sure you have a qualifications statement in which you say why you are qualified to do the job for the prospect. Include a corporate history, background of principals in your company and describe your facilities. A starting date or delivery date may also be helpful and could make the difference in getting the order or not. The best advice is to use your best judgment along with the information you already know about your prospect.

End your proposal with a closing paragraph which contains a statement of interest in doing the work for the prospective client. This paragraph can also be used to restate the benefits of doing business with your company. Close your proposal. Promote why your company is the best selection. Repeat the significant benefits that your prospect will receive.

If your proposal is in a report format, always include a cover letter. Keep your cover letter short and friendly, no more than one page long. Close the letter with a quick summary of why your company is qualified for the job. Then end with your proposed follow-up actions i.

The cover letter not only sets the tone for the rest of the proposal, but it also provides the prospect with a contact he can call for further information. You may want to refer to the cover letter in Section III as an example. When possible use graphics or charts. Making the proposal look more like a report can aid the prospect in his reading and understanding of the information presented.

Use friendly, uncluttered charts to aid the reader. One well-constructed chart is worth a thousand words. Make use of sidebars and descriptive headlines. Since your goal is to have it read, making it inviting is a definite plus. Review the language you have used and be sure your proposal contains a majority of active verbs as opposed to passive verbs. This is what the prospect is going to see and quite often not in your presence. If your proposal is in a report format, bind it. You can do this yourself if you have the proper materials and equipment, or get your local printer to do it for you.

If your proposal is a letter, type it on your stationery. In any case, make sure there are no typos. Typos are an indication of sloppiness and a disregard for details, neither of which a client wants to experience in a project. If you can, have a colleague read your proposal for content, typos, and proper grammar. Use a checklist for your proposal.

Once your proposal is completed, subject it to the following to insure that you have included all of the key items:. Make adjustments in your copy accordingly. When this is completed, you are ready to send off your proposal. One option is to mail it. You may choose to send it via standard delivery or overnight it. Although an overnight courier service may be more expensive, the receiver takes special note when he receives such packages.

Either way, once the final document is delivered and the prospect has had a sufficient time to review it, follow-up with a phone call or visit to ask if you can clarify any aspects of the proposal. Be assertive, not a nuisance. If it was not, try to find out why and learn from the feedback so that you can incorporate it into your next proposal.

Sample Sales Proposal [ top ] A sample sales proposal follows.

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List any relevant education and experience, certifications, awards, or success stories. Now, we get to the bottom line of your business proposal template — the pricing. While some choose to stick with market rates, others calculate their price based on time, experience, or other perceived value. You can opt to provide a menu of your services, with prices broken down per goods or service, along with a total fee for the complete package.

This gives the client options and shows them the value of each service. This reiterates all the important details of the project — timelines, payment schedules, and any ways the proposal can be amended. You may want to run these terms and conditions by a lawyer or legal counsel before sending the proposal a client.

Fortunately, this section is pretty standard and can be used as a general template for all proposals. A small but important section of your proposal, this is basically a set of signature boxes for your client to date and sign. The following are a few of the most common variations, each with its own distinct features.

A graphic design proposal template can feature an attractive layout. A web design proposal can include the tools and platforms you specialize in. These proposals can also carry a more personable tone as compared to say, a project management proposal. Share a portfolio of work with details about your thought process and the overall vision you had for each project. In addition to a custom project price quote, you can also include a few set design packages the client can select from i. For a sales or marketing proposal, the solution is typically one that results in increased revenue.

For a sales or marketing professional, however, you should aim for a proposal that goes beyond such a simple solution. Be sure to focus on the client. Deliver a solid understanding of their situation and an even more impressive solution to their needs. This will go much farther in convincing them of your professional skills than any long roster of qualifications. As for the timeline, sales and marketing tends to be more complex as compared to other more concrete projects, such as a graphic or web design.

Marketing plans usually take at least a few months to manifest results and even then, these results can be quite difficult to measure. This is the nature of the job — there are a multitude of factors that add up to the success of a campaign. A job or consulting proposal concerns a specific position that the individual wishes to take on within the company, and explains how their particular skills and experience can best fulfill that job.

Frequently, these are written only after the individual and client have already discussed the job in detail. But whereas a consulting proposal is usually for a defined term usually a few months to a year , a job proposal entails a more permanent position. These more particular proposals can reference your past education and work experience, as well as your work style and values.

Business or project proposals can be either solicited or unsolicited. An unsolicited proposal is initiated by the individual or company who writes it, offering a product or service they think will benefit the prospective client.

Both are quite common. But a solicited proposal generally has a higher success rate as the client is already in need of something, and the writer already knows exactly what that is. Still, an unsolicited proposal does benefit from its element of surprise.

Writing a proposal requires a lot of research, time, and effort. Thankfully, there are a lot of great resources for a free proposal template out there, our favorites being PandaDoc , Proposify , and Smartsheet. These offer a rich selection of proposal template ideas, ranging from software development proposals to SEO proposals.

Now get to crafting your proposal and good luck! Your email address will not be published. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. Brett Helling. Updated on May 28, January 31, Author Details. Owner , Gigworker. Brett Helling is the owner of Gigworker. Since an early age, he has started business ventures and worked various side hustles in many different niches.

Be certain to use relevant keywords whenever crafting a business proposal so that you can communicate a great deal of information with the right word choices. She is a skilled presenter and trainer before audiences nationwide. Was this article useful? SHRM offers thousands of tools, templates and other exclusive member benefits, including compliance updates, sample policies, HR expert advice, education discounts, a growing online member community and much more.

You may be trying to access this site from a secured browser on the server. Please enable scripts and reload this page. Reuse Permissions. Image Caption. Technology upgrades and new solutions Operating and capital budget requests New ventures, products, programs, projects, operations and services Reorganizations as a result of mergers, acquisitions, divestitures, etc. Make Your Idea the Centerpiece The content of your business proposal is the most important feature of the document.

Here are the six steps for writing a business proposal that engages readers and drives positive action: Title your proposal with words that clearly communicate what it is. Readers should have no questions about the idea you are conveying. Begin with a brief summary —a few short bullet points—that outline what your proposal is for and the problem it will solve, the justification for why it's needed, the requisite financial and business resources, and the projected hopefully positive impact on the organization.

This section will allow someone to quickly learn about your proposal, so be certain that you give plenty of thought to every word you write. This is your primary opportunity to capture your reader's attention. Write a comprehensive narrative about your proposal, focusing on the current situation, the problem or issue that you want to solve or the opportunity you want to take advantage of, and your proposed actions and recommendations.

Note that comprehensive does not mean pages of content as you'll read further in this article. Yes, you want to be complete, but do not overload your readers with information they don't need. Give detailed information about the impact of your proposal on the department, organization, division, company, workforce or other entity. Some of these impacts may be quantifiable e. A clear outline of each impact is an essential component of your proposal and what will often be the determining factor in whether or not your proposal is approved.

Be honest about resource requirements. Just about any proposal is going to have resource requirements—money, technology or personnel. State all of your requirements as you anticipate them now so that you lessen the potential for surprises during the initiative. Rarely are surprises of that nature good. Sell yourself. With just a short paragraph or two, or a few bullet points, be certain to tell your reader why you're the best person to launch and manage what you've proposed.

It might be that your proposal is great and everyone is on board, but they select someone else to handle it. Share information about your qualifications, achievements, knowledge of the company, and connections with the company that positions you as the person to take the helm. Don't assume they know; tell them! Keep It Succinct and Write It Tight Whether you're writing a two-page proposal to justify a new hire or a page proposal for a large investment in HRIS technology, you want to write tight, lean and clean to enhance readability.

Here are a few recommendations for how to write tight, lean and clean. Use: Short paragraphs that are no longer than three to four lines each. If longer, split into two paragraphs so that readers more easily capture the information. Short lists of bullet points with no more than four to six bullets in each section. Short content within your bullet points, working to keep each bullet to one to three lines. If the content in the bullet points is longer than that, be sure to double space between each of the bullet, again for a visual break for your readers.

If it makes your proposal a page longer, let it be long and readable versus uninviting and unreadable. Be certain to include the name of the proposal or a shortened title and a page number along with the logo to create a professional presentation. Enhance your headings and titles so they look great and make the proposal easy to scan. Use a larger, bold font than what you use for the text—maybe even in color as we discuss below.

If sections are long, consider using an attractive line to visually separate each section. Word gives you lots of line choices, so pick something distinctive. Use color for the corporate logo and, conservatively, throughout the rest of the proposal for headings, titles, images, lines, boxes and any other graphics you might integrate. Page endings are important since you don't want a new heading and only two lines of text at the bottom of one page and the rest of that section on the next page.

It doesn't look professional and interrupts the flow. If that happens, insert a hard page break so that the new section will start at the top of a new page. If all of your sections happen to be three-quarters to a full page, then you might want to consider starting each section on a new page. Otherwise, let it run as a continuous document, except in instances where hard breaks are recommended.

Save your proposal as a PDF file.

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If the offer has a complicated conversion path or high level of friction, this may cause issues down the road for you. Personally, I like to gather insight into the sophistication of their marketing operations. This includes everything from web development, automation, lead scoring, and inevitably how many members they have on the team.

Many of these can be put together over time, but I typically want some type of structure to be in place before I get started. Additional details in this regard are design and landing page support, as well as access to analytics. For many B2B prospects, the product or service that they offer inevitably has to be sold by an account representative or someone internally via a phone call or meeting. A strong sales team is your best friend.

Here are the six steps to producing a proposal that wins over your prospects. To start my proposals, I begin with a section that outlines the primary objectives that the prospect and myself are looking to achieve. I will typically include three overarching objectives for this section with short and long-term cadences. For example:. This section acts as somewhat of a summary of my strategy that will be included in more detail in the subsequent parts of the proposal.

These objectives are the end result of my determination on what the general strategy will be and how the clients goals will be achieved. I will include short and long-term objectives in this section as success over time will provide more opportunities. In this section, I break down the details of my strategy into their respective parts. There are several steps to getting a prospect started with paid advertising that need to be addressed early on. Outside of these tasks, I will include more information on what we plan to do after the initial setup.

This will include targeting strategies, promotional strategies, and the baseline costs. I will go into detail about how I plan to pace the proposed budget number and what that will entail. In some cases, additional keyword research or other documents may be linked within here to give more transparency on the details of the strategy. I also make it clear how performance will be reported and the cadence of check-in meetings.

Overall, the structure of this section appears similar to this:. This page includes all of the access and additional reports or support design, etc. This makes it clear what the client has to do in order for us to begin working together.

This section is important because being straightforward about what you will need access to and why will prevent many future headaches you may face. I generally include three major requirements in this section:. This ensures that I have the tools I need in order to set up conversion tracking and place any pixels necessary. With Google Analytics access, this allows me to create goals related directly to the channel-specific conversions and, therefore, have an additional layer data and truth in my reporting.

In some instances, I will include a section that outlines the timeline of events in order to launch proposed campaigns. This, again, allows the client to understand what needs to be done on both of our ends in order to get everything kicked off.

Many prospects that you will connect with are very eager and sometimes impatient to get started. This section makes it clear what needs to be done, when it will be done, and when everything will be launched. This section is dedicated solely to how the client will be charged, including an explanation of your rate and when you send invoices.

You provide more detail by adding multiple layers of services and what they cost respectively. In my experience, the more transparent the better. I typically organize this section as a table:. I suggest setting up a call or meeting to go over the proposal with them and answer any questions they may have about it.

Sending them the proposal in written form and then going over it with them in person is much better than doing one or the other in my opinion. My reasoning for this is that it allows the prospect to read your proposal and digest the information on their own. With time in between the proposal being sent and your follow-up call, they have time to think about what they have read.

Once you have the call with them and review it together, you can alleviate any apprehensions they may have or explain things a little better for them. This may seem contrary to some sales beliefs about limiting time. He wants someone he can rely on, someone he can trust. This may be the first contact with this prospect, but your intent is to make him a long-term customer.

Key tasks would include:. Planning the menu — June 6 2. Ordering the food and supplies — August 12 3. Arranging for flowers — September 1 etc. Define your objectives and scope. Next, list the basic steps of your approach. You may not have the full details of his needs nor the luxury of talking to him one-on-one, and any suggestion of a possible solution could jeopardize your getting the assignment. He may have already investigated the option and discarded it for reasons unknown to you or, worse still, take the suggestion and do it himself.

Also, when you describe your approach, include the result, or deliverables, with each step. This is what your client gets upon completion of each step. The deliverable signals the end of one step and the beginning of the next. However, all steps do not need a deliverable, just the key ones. Providing deliverables is an effective method for gauging progress on a project. Deliverables provide evidence that work is being completed and is a valuable mechanism to use when managing large projects for both the customer and supplier.

Deliverables can be either goods or services. For instance, if you are a consultant, you may provide a progress report, either orally or written, upon the conclusion of key steps in a project. On the other hand, if you are a building contractor building a home, an appropriate deliverable may be completion of a room or system plumbing, electrical, air conditioning, etc. Think about your proposal. Take each of the basic steps and develop the details of your approach.

Where appropriate, include deliverables. Next, describe the benefits the prospect can expect from your products or services. This is a critical part of your sales proposal. When creating your list of benefits, always keep in mind what you can do to make your prospect successful, how you can make him look good.

Pay special attention to his role, responsibilities, and level in the organization when developing your list. For example, if you are selling a manager on an upgraded telephone system, make sure you know what his key challenges are maybe reliability and cost and stress how your system overcomes them high consumer confidence ratings, modular features, etc.

You may have to do a little research. If the company has an active advertising campaign, find magazines or trade journals that the company may be advertising in. What are their claims? Who are they targeting? If they are a public company, get a copy of their annual report.

Your library may have a copy of one, or you can call the company directly. A reference librarian can also help you with a search of magazines and newspapers for current articles written about the company. For example, if you are a new travel agency looking for commercial accounts, your proposals should be full of how you might save money for your clients — getting the best deals on air fare, hotels, rental cars; offering value-added services that your clients currently must do; suggesting scheduling alternatives that cut travel costs, etc.

When properly done, your benefits will implicitly justify why your goods or services should be used by the prospect. This may be stated as a final product or proposed outcome of the project. This is a very effective method for conveying the extent of the value that you bring to the prospect.

A Word About Features and Benefits — People buy a product or service because they either need or want to. In order to create a need or a want, you must promote the benefits of using your product or service. Many business owners promote the features of their business and neglect to point out how the product or service will benefit the customer. Features enable the product or service to perform its function. Benefits are the results a person receives from using the product or service.

For example, a feature for a local printer may be 24 hour service. The benefit to the customer may be increased flexibility and faster turnaround. The customer is more interested in how you can help him the benefits , not necessarily the details of your service the features. List the key benefits of your product or service. Where you place this information in your proposal is extremely important.

Any good fisherman knows the importance of the initial stages in luring a prize catch. If you include the costs too early in the proposal, it may immediately put off your prospect and cause him to reject the proposal before he has a chance to understand its impact fully. Your estimate of charges for goods or services should be as detailed as possible so there will be no misunderstanding when the goods or services are delivered.

Your prospect does not want to be surprised with hidden costs once he has accepted your proposal. Remember, you want to turn this prospect into a long-term customer. There will be costs over which you have no control. Plan for them and let your prospect know what they are. Most likely, your client will have a limited budget that he is operating within. Be assured this does not free you from properly managing those costs; it communicates, however, that there are additional costs that must be budgeted for.

Keep in mind that surprises have a knack of eroding even the best of relationships. Here, you want to remind the prospect why you are the best choice for the job. This is a good time to do some of your own PR. Make sure you have a qualifications statement in which you say why you are qualified to do the job for the prospect. Include a corporate history, background of principals in your company and describe your facilities. A starting date or delivery date may also be helpful and could make the difference in getting the order or not.

The best advice is to use your best judgment along with the information you already know about your prospect. End your proposal with a closing paragraph which contains a statement of interest in doing the work for the prospective client. This paragraph can also be used to restate the benefits of doing business with your company. Close your proposal. Promote why your company is the best selection. Repeat the significant benefits that your prospect will receive.

If your proposal is in a report format, always include a cover letter. Keep your cover letter short and friendly, no more than one page long. Close the letter with a quick summary of why your company is qualified for the job. Then end with your proposed follow-up actions i. The cover letter not only sets the tone for the rest of the proposal, but it also provides the prospect with a contact he can call for further information.

You may want to refer to the cover letter in Section III as an example. When possible use graphics or charts. Making the proposal look more like a report can aid the prospect in his reading and understanding of the information presented. Use friendly, uncluttered charts to aid the reader. One well-constructed chart is worth a thousand words. Make use of sidebars and descriptive headlines.

Since your goal is to have it read, making it inviting is a definite plus. Review the language you have used and be sure your proposal contains a majority of active verbs as opposed to passive verbs. This is what the prospect is going to see and quite often not in your presence. If your proposal is in a report format, bind it. You can do this yourself if you have the proper materials and equipment, or get your local printer to do it for you.

If your proposal is a letter, type it on your stationery. In any case, make sure there are no typos. Typos are an indication of sloppiness and a disregard for details, neither of which a client wants to experience in a project. If you can, have a colleague read your proposal for content, typos, and proper grammar. Use a checklist for your proposal. Once your proposal is completed, subject it to the following to insure that you have included all of the key items:.

Make adjustments in your copy accordingly. When this is completed, you are ready to send off your proposal. One option is to mail it. You may choose to send it via standard delivery or overnight it. Although an overnight courier service may be more expensive, the receiver takes special note when he receives such packages. Either way, once the final document is delivered and the prospect has had a sufficient time to review it, follow-up with a phone call or visit to ask if you can clarify any aspects of the proposal.

Be assertive, not a nuisance. If it was not, try to find out why and learn from the feedback so that you can incorporate it into your next proposal. Sample Sales Proposal [ top ] A sample sales proposal follows. This short proposal demonstrates the key items usually present in a successful sales proposal.

It is written by a marketing company to a prospective client with the objective to increase market share for that client, a small company in the retail fishing industry. The development of an effective sales proposal must have measurable objectives.

Four specific areas were given consideration, and they are:. However, the primary audience for advertising activity is the 25 to 54 year range and comprises This market includes both men and women with two-thirds of the participants in sport fishing being male. Geographically, the South and North Central regions of the country have the largest and most frequent fresh water sport fishing activity followed by the Western and Northeastern areas of the country.

The objectives are to select the media which prove to be the most cost efficient and to design hard-hitting advertising to assure the message will reach the target audiences with sufficient frequency to provide memorability. Further objectives include selecting media which will synergistically support the creative strategy and create a media mix which will allow each medium to exercise its full potential to generate sales and deliver the sales message in a stimulating manner.

According to our experience and thorough research, we will evaluate radio as a primary medium. It is a semi-intrusive medium offering very distinct advantages, one of which is to sharply define a demographic target without excessive spillover. By carefully researching station formats and audience analysis figures, we can reach predetermined age and income levels of potential purchasers.

We will also evaluate print because this medium will strategically support radio and can offer the opportunity to effectively segment the market both demographically and psycho-graphically at reasonable costs. The use of magazines that focus on trade and consumer, and local newspapers will maximize the print effort.

Television, too, will be considered as it is a medium that works effectively at the highest level of intrusion and emotional stimulation. This medium has an enviable track record for launching new products and is universally used to introduce broad consumption products and services.

Weekly progress reports will be submitted to the individual appointed as our key contact, and a final presentation given to senior management at the conclusion of the project. A thorough analysis of your market and of the media to reach that market will help to properly allocate your promotional budget to get the fullest utilization of your marketing dollars. This planned marketing approach will synergistically result in the fullest coverage and deepest penetration possible with your current budget.

Also, since we are one of the largest and oldest marketing firms specializing in the fishing industry, we have contracts with some of the popular magazines, radio and television stations. This enables us to negotiate the best media rates for our customers. We are pleased to offer the following quotations for the necessary work to be done. The costs for running on radio and television will be supplied once frequency and choice of broadcast stations is finalized. These spots can be completed within six days of final script approval.

The costs to produce two full-color, full-page ads to run in Fisherman Today and Sports Fishing magazine, a combined circulation of over 2. The time to complete the production of the print ads will be 4 weeks from approval of layout, copy and photography. We will produce a series of six 30 second spots for television.

Production can be started within seven days after receiving a signed purchase order and a check for payment of one third of the costs for each item included. We have been in the marketing and advertising industry for sixty-one years. We know the industry as well as the market and are ready to help you get your market share.

If you have any questions, whatsoever, please feel free to call me at It is in these situations that a concept paper can be used. Concept papers are an excellent marketing tool since they are relatively easy to prepare, inexpensive and well received by prospective clients. If it is favorably received, it could lead to either an order or a request for a more formal proposal.

This paper is usually between three and five pages in length, preceded by a one-page cover letter.