The process of writing a proposal provides the opportunity to clarify your own thoughts about the issues a prospective client has communicated to you, and the time to think through how your organisation might be able to help.
- Writing a proposal shows your client that you have seriously considered their situation and put thought and time into creating a solution.
- Writing a proposal gives you the opportunity to add more detail and substance to your spoken presentation, and gives you the opportunity to provide graphics, charts and illustrations to help your client ‘picture’ your proposed solution.
In order to write a good proposal you have to be able to answer these five questions:
- What was the client’s motivation for talking to you? What’s driving the client to consider spending money with you or one of your competitors? Not only the explicit motivation (i.e. we need a new ad campaign/courier firm/recruitment company) but the implicit motivation (need to impress the boss/save my own time/create a more dynamic organisation/sell the company).
- What is your client’s problem/opportunity? The ability to paraphrase your client’s problem or opportunity within your proposal shows you have listened, understood and acted upon the information they gave you.
- What does your client want to achieve? Again, you will have the explicit measures, more sales, better deliveries, better standard of staff etc but also the implicit measurements such as how others perceive the company, how internal staff are affected, and your client’s personal standing within the organisation.
- What options can you offer to meet the customer’s needs? Once you’ve shown that you understand your customer’s requirements, and briefly outlined your own organisation’s role and function, you need to outline a number of solutions that your prospective client could adopt, along with the likely outcomes of those solutions. Some of these may not even be from your organisation. Including alternatives that your organisation does not benefit from shows that you have clearly thought through the problem from their perspective (it is also psychologically proven that people are more likely to trust, believe and be persuaded by someone who presents solutions that they do not personally benefit from).
- What is your recommendation? Whilst giving people multiple options may increase your chances of them making a choice between those options; they also want to see that in your considered opinion ‘x’ is the best option for these reasons. This demonstrates that you have spent time understanding their perspective and also that you personally believe in your organisations product or service. (click here for more on belief).
Naturally the proposal will only be successful if you present it well (see Presentation Skills tip). It is your personal conviction that will sell the proposal in the end, but a professional proposal, formulated through answering these questions, will provide a framework for a successful presentation.