Proposal Writing Basics Steps To Take When Writing Any Proposal

By Jane Sherwin

Whether you are responding to a formal request for proposal (an RFP) or have been asked informally to submit a one-page bid, be sure to follow these basic steps in preparing your material.

Step 1: Get organized! If you are responding to an RFP, follow the instructions to the letter. Many RFPs will include a list of required items, so use this in preparing your proposal and keeping track of what to submit. If there is no RFP, make your own outline of materials, from the introduction all the way to rate or cost pages.

Step 2: If the RFP itself is disorganized (and this can certainly happen), be very careful to identify all the requirements it mentions, and then find a way to structure your proposal to meet those requirements. Sometimes it’s necessary to check with the RFP source to make sure you understand what they are looking for.

Step 3: Set up a schedule, based on the due date for the proposal. In some cases, a late entry can mean exclusion from bidding, so this is critical. Work backward from the due date, identifying critical points in the process, from initial drafts and completions of questionnaires to sign-offs by senior executives, printing, binding and distributing. Be sure to leave in plenty of time for mistakes and the unexpected problem.

Step 4: Set up a team. Identify everyone with a role to play in putting your proposal together, whether these are sales people, underwriters, product developers, designers, or printers. If possible, hold a brief meeting to identify who is responsible for what, and give them internal deadlines to meet. Stay in touch with team members to make sure they are on time with their contributions.

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Step 5: Begin your proposal with a very clear statement of your offer, and why it best meets your prospect’s needs. Be specific. If you’ve provided services for many years, mention this. If the two of you have done a joint project in the past, refer to it as an example of how well you know the prospect and how well you work together. Mention the account manager or other personnel who will be providing client services.

Step 6: The following sections should be part of your proposal:

* A brief cover letter signed by the appropriate manager or officer.

* A single “Key points” page that outlines the five or six most important points in your proposal.

* A Q&A format can be useful in building your case.

* A detailed description of the product, especially its benefits to the prospect. Avoid comparing your product directly to your competition’s work, but show how it beats the competition.

* How you will be able to deliver the product on time

* Pricing, timing and method of payments

Of course, if you are responding to an RFP, follow its directions for content.

Step 7: Always proof read your writing. Have a colleague lined up who can review the content for accuracy and clarity.

If you’ve done your planning, allowed plenty of time for meeting deadlines, and know your prospect and your product well, your proposal should be a very useful tool in closing the deal. Best of luck!

Copyright (c) 2010 Jane Sherwin. You may reprint this entire article and you must include the copyright info and the following statement: “Jane Sherwin is a writer who helps hospitals and other healthcare facilities communicate their strengths and connect with their readers.”

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This entry was posted on Sunday, October 7th, 2018 at 12:18 am and is filed under Financial Services. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

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