Putting together proposals is a critical part of gaining new business. Unfortunately, they can consume a lot of time and resources. Because the business is not guaranteed and most often proposals are free, you don’t want to dump too much effort into this type of work. Yet, you still want to put your best foot forward to increase your odds of winning the job. How do you split the difference? Here’s how to create a big-impact proposal in a small amount of time.
Create a blueprint, not a how-to guide
One of the biggest mistakes of proposal writing is providing too much information. Your potential client needs to understand your vision for the project and get excited for the results, but they don’t need a play-by-play. Not only does this take up far too much time, it also puts your proposal at risk of being taken and implemented by someone else. Think of it this way – you want to create a blueprint for the work you can complete, but not a step-by-step how-to guide that makes it easy for anyone else to do the same. Paint the big picture, but leave the finer details for the paid job!
Know what matters…and what doesn’t
Another mistake is thinking that a potential client wants to know every single detail. More often than not, they would prefer to be given a general idea and few examples here and there. Anything more can make a proposal far too long and very overwhelming for a client to try and sift through. Keep your proposal to the most meaningful information and leave out the sections that clients would likely just skip over to get to the “meat.” For example, a description of your company should be short and sweet – no more than a paragraph and an executive summary of the project should also be limited to several paragraphs (not several pages). This is all added bulk that can be eliminated. It will save you time and your clients will thank you as well!
Pull from past proposals
You don’t need to reinvent the wheel every time you write a proposal. Certain sections such as the paragraph briefly describing your business, an explanation of a particular service or your pricing structure can all be copied over from past proposals. Once you have these “modules” written just the way you want them, you can simply insert them into any new proposal. This will save you hours of rewriting the same content over and over.
Take advantage of technology
Finally, be sure to take advantage of all the different resources and shortcuts technology now provides when it comes to proposal writing. Online services such as BidSketch (http://www.bidsketch.com) make proposal formatting easy and professional. All you have to worry about is the content and they take care of making it look great. This also provides your clients with the ability to review, edit and sign the proposal electronically which keeps the proposal process moving along smoothly. For a small investment, these tech tools will reduce your time spent on each proposal and allow you more bandwidth to take on additional projects.
Proposals are a necessary evil of business growth. One of the greatest skills you can learn is how to craft a professional and on-point proposal in a reasonable amount of time. By putting these strategies to use, you will be able to create big-impact proposals without depleting all of your resources to do so! ~Stephanie
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