Whether your company is well established or just starting out, continued growth is integral to your success and survival. If you’ve secured a request for proposal (RFPs) from a prospective client – and you think the job is a good fit for your company – you should consider investing the time and effort required to win the new business.
You do this by stating your case through a high-quality business proposal that will go a long way to sealing the deal. Here’s how to write a winning business proposal in five easy steps.
Step 1: Understand the client’s request
A winning proposal starts with a solid understanding of the client’s problem, needs, and why it’s important to them. Reading the RFP closely and thoroughly is a given, so we also suggest placing yourself in the client’s shoes by asking questions like:
- What’s the challenge we’re faced with?
- Why is it a problem?
- What’s the solution?
- How much time do we have to work with?
- What will the cost be?
You can even raise concerns and implications if the client didn’t resolve the problem, such as the impact to their customers and bottom line.
If you have questions after going through the RFP, set up a meeting with the prospect to get clarification.
Step 2: Brainstorm with your team
If, after reviewing the RFP and meeting with the prospect, you want to bid for the job, sit down with your team to discuss how to approach the project. Begin by going over the client’s RFP together, and review additional findings if you happened to meet with the client to get more information. Brainstorm ideas on how you plan to solve the client’s problem, the scope of work, how long it might take, what each team member’s responsibility will be, and how much you should charge.
Step 3: Draft the proposal
Make sure the proposal addresses what the client outlined in the RFP, particularly the challenge they’re facing and why they need help. Provide as much detail as possible to prove that you really understand the problem. If it’s apparent to the prospect that you don’t, they won’t bother reading past the first page.
The proposal should contain these essential elements:
- Understanding of the problem – This bears repeating: demonstrate your understanding of the customer’s needs and why they’re important to them.
- Why your solution works – As you present your solution, you should also establish your credibility. Share case studies about how you’ve helped other companies with issues that are similar to what the prospect is trying to resolve.
- The value of working with you – Apart from your expertise, what other incentive does the prospect have to choose your company over the competitor? Does the prospective client see the value of working with you — as in your ability to respect confidentiality, communicate clearly and professionally, and work under tight schedules? In other words, are you the kind of vendor the prospect will be comfortable working with?
- Samples of your work – Include actual samples of your work, which would serve as a testament to your qualifications, such as your success with similar projects. The stronger evidence, the better.
- Proposed scope and timeline – Outline key details about how you plan to carry out the project, such as deliverables, potential roadblocks, milestones and deadlines. Be realistic with expectations. The important thing is that both sides agree on the scope of work before any actual work begins.
- Project cost – Make an itemized list of deliverables based on the project scope, and the associated cost for each. The cost information should align with what’s in the RFP.
Step 4: Review and finalize the draft
This is the last chance for you and your team to get on the same page about the scope of work, timeline, and cost estimate. The final draft should be simple, yet covers all the details the client needs to decide whether to award the project to you. Be persuasive, but succinct.
Step 5: Deliver the proposal to the client
Present the final draft of the proposal to the prospective client and ask for feedback afterward. Whether it results in you winning the business is up to them. At the very least, the experience of reviewing a business proposal should be worthwhile for you and the prospect; both of you invested valuable time and effort to this integral process.
By incorporating our recommendations and aligning it with the requirements of the RFP, you will position yourself strongly enough for the prospect to seriously consider you for the job.