21 Apr FE: Polished proposals
“…Or so the slide deck said.” ~John Carreyrou, Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup
Maybe you’ve been fascinated by some of the recent Silicon Valley streaming series in your spare time? This week we’ll continue to help entrepreneurs base their projects on a strong foundation (ICYMI, http://thewishwall.org/desideri/fe-the-foundation) .
The first step in how to write a business proposal is understanding what your prospective customer needs it to include.
Align with Business Proposal Requirements
Formal requests for proposals (RFPs) usually lay out the specific requirements a business needs to make a buying decision. At a minimum, these requirements typically include detailed information about the proposed solution, product, or service, the implementation/delivery plan or timeline, and the total price.
An RFP is formal, requiring actionable information from vendors or suppliers. RFQ: RFQs are used to request information about the cost of specific products or services. It creates an avenue for you to get a better picture of what you will pay in real terms.
Even if you aren’t responding to a formal RFP, you want to think critically about what other information may be necessary for the lead decision-maker to make a purchasing decision. Ask yourself what would you need to compare your product or services with competitors and include it in your sales proposal. It’s also good to be prepared to provide qualifying information about your business, its purpose, and prior experience solving similar business pain points.
Gather Necessary Information
Once you know what your prospect or customer requires, it’s time to detail how your products or services fill those needs. This step may require you to gather additional information like your inception story, mission, or unique selling proposition. This information can be taken from your website, but you’ll want to be prepared to customize language so that solution you plan to propose appears more personalized to the proposal recipient.
You should also put together additional supporting information such as a client reference list, project/client samples, and testimonials. This helps prove to the potential client that your experience is adequate and you are fully qualified to fulfill their needs.
Generate Your Proposed Solution
The next step needed to create a business proposal is to define exactly how your proposed solution meets their statement of needs and what they should expect from you if they accept your proposal. This step will help you fill in the scope of work section in your final, written proposal. If you use work order forms, master service agreements, or already have a generic scope of work document, you can tailor these to fit the client’s needs.
If you don’t have formal documents you can use as a starting point, use the five Ws and one H methodology, like shown below, to construct a scope of work your proposed solution.
Who: Who will be involved, do the work, manage it, and be a point of contact if something goes wrong?
What: What solutions will be delivered and what resources will be used?
Where: Where will work be done or be delivered to?
When: When will the work start and be completed, and what are the key milestones throughout the project?
How: How will work be done, be managed, and ensure high quality and customer satisfaction?
Why: Why did you choose this particular solution for this customer’s needs?
Pro tip: Rather than scrambling to organize all of the information you’ll use for your proposals at every opportunity, use customer relationship management (CRM) software to store your sales information and documents. Popular CRMs let you centralize your sales files in one system where all of your team members can access them. They even have a SmartDocs feature to easily create fillable proposal templates.
Thank you for your feedback and we welcome your comments.
Akasha Garnier for #TheWishwall
Author, Brand Expert, Filmmaker
Photo: AkashaLin, Silicon Beach, CA
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