Tutorials and resources for proposal writing and business development

Who sets the standards for proposals?

The customer.

There is no universal standard for layout or composition of proposals. If you think about it, it makes sense. A “proposal” is intended to persuade someone. What is required to do that is up to the person being persuaded.

If you want your proposal to succeed, you must know your customer. If your customer wants:

  • If your customer wants details, give it to them. If they don’t want to do a lot of reading, give them a short proposal.
  • If your customer wants references, give it to them. Otherwise, don’t.
  • If your customer wants pricing, give it to them. If they’re not ready for pricing, don’t give it to them.
  • If your customer wants contractual details, give it to them. If they’re not ready to discuss contractual details, don’t force them.
  • If your customer wants to know who will be doing the work, tell them. If they don’t care, don’t tell them.
  • If your customer wants things presented chronologically, organize your proposal that way.
  • If your customer wants information organized functionally, organize your proposal that way.

If you don’t know the answers, find them out.

If the customer doesn’t know what they want or need, give them criteria to help them figure it out.

Never load the customer up with a bunch of paper just because they might want something. Give them what they want. No more, no less.

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By Carl Dickson,
Founder of and PropLIBRARY

PropLIBRARY is our professional tool for people who want to win RFPs like their business depends on it.

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