6 Essential tips for writing a business proposal

By Kirsteen Scott

A lot of work goes into winning business. Writing a business proposal is a complex and time-consuming process which is crucial to get right. It relies on:

• fully understanding and providing a solution that meets your potential client’s objectives
• standing out from the other vendors who are also competing for the business
• making sure that you submit your proposal on time

However, there’s nothing more disappointing when you receive notice that you’ve been unsuccessful in winning the contract and worse, you’re unsure as to the reason why.

After all, you may have been solely responsible for creating the proposal, advising colleagues that you require their valuable and often technical input. As well as being the main driver in pulling this information together in time to make sure that you can prepare and deliver the document on time.

We can be so busy trying to gather all the elements that are needed to compose the document and ensuring everyone meets the deadline, that sometimes we forget to introduce a process that involves collaborating as a team to create and review the finished document.

Below are six essential tips for writing your next business proposal:

1. Planning and collaboration
A crucial part of proposal writing is that you implement a process of planning and collaboration. This helps set out who’s responsible for each section of the proposal, as well as allowing you to set deadlines. This way everyone has clarity and can focus on the task in hand. It also allows you to work more efficiently, especially if it’s a time-sensitive proposal. Ideally, you want everyone to be able to work on the document at the same time.

2. Structure
Structure is vital to your proposal in making sure that the potential client can follow and understand each section. Think of it as writing a story: it should have a beginning, middle and end which fully addresses the client’s objectives. Introducing the use of a standard template, with a reference guide or checklist that the team can refer to may be helpful.

3. Spelling and grammatical errors
Make sure that you stand out from your competition for all the right reasons. Spelling and grammatical errors give off the wrong impression and can make you look unprofessional. To avoid finding your proposal in the “no thanks” pile, introducing a robust quality control process makes sure any errors can be easily corrected before the document is published or sent to the client.

4. Technical jargon / company terminology
Sometimes it’s easy to get so caught up in promoting that you have the expertise to help a potential client that you forget they aren’t industry experts. Be mindful of technical jargon or company terminology, as the client may struggle to fully understand the information.

5. Not fully addressing the objectives
One reason a proposal can fail to win the business is that, although you've spent time with designers creating a visual masterpiece, you may not have fully answered the brief from the client. Remember to keep referring to the client’s objective(s) and indicate clearly how you can help.

6. Rushing to finish
We live in a time-starved world, especially at work, but it’s important that you’re able to give the proposal document the time it needs. This helps you avoid mistakes and ensures vital information has not been missed and gives you the chance to quality check the finished document. This can be achieved by introducing a process as above and allocating enough time to those working on the document to meet the submission date.

PleaseReview is a collaborative co-authoring and document review software solution that makes it easier for large teams to create and review complex proposals. It offers you a simple, user-friendly environment where teams can work together on documents across technologies and geographies. The document collaboration software enables you to control and manage all aspects of your proposal collaboration, giving you:

• Improved operational performance, productivity and efficiency
• Stronger compliance and business oversight
• Mitigation of regulatory, legal and commercial risk

To see how PleaseReview can help you with writing a business proposal and benefit your organisation download our ‘Make winning business more efficient’ brochure.

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