Making proposals simple

Winning doesn't always require complex approaches

The complexity of a proposal effort is driven primarily by two factors:

  • How many people do you need to contribute to the proposal? Developing a proposal with other people involved means you need planning, estimating, progress tracking, quality assurance, and all the other aspects of project management. 
  • Are you willing to invest in winning? Even though we want to believe that every proposal deserves a heroic effort to win, some have a higher priority than others. The effort you put into research, planning, and quality assurance depends on that priority.

If you are doing the proposal on your own and managing your own priorities, you can greatly simplify things and balance the desire to win with the effort it will take. If you are forced into doing a proposal without the resources you need, you might also be forced into simplifying things.

Mythbusting: Templates are probably not the best way to simplify a proposal effort

We've brought all the information we've written about recycling proposal content and using templates together into this Topic Hub. The bottom line is that in almost all cases they reduce your probability of winning. Only you can decide whether reducing the effort is worth sacrificing your win probability. Most of the content on PropLIBRARY is written to maximize your chances of winning, even if it takes more effort, because we've found mathematically that's usually the best investment. The purpose of this topic hub is to help people with simple approaches that still maximize your chances of winning in cases where the MustWin Process is overkill. 

Checklists and recipes can simplify without killing your chances of winning

Checklists can help you quickly figure out what to write, without reducing your chances of winning the way recycling proposal narrative or using templates will. They remind you, help ensure that you don't leave anything out, and prompt you with things to consider. The right checklist can make winning in writing checklist simple

Instead of copying an outline or following a template, here is a simple approach to a proposal outline that is based on the customer's point of view. If you want to get just a little more sophisticated, here are 16 ways to organize your outline. And when it comes to writing, instead of templates or recycling proposal text from a previous proposal, try a Proposal Recipe to accelerate the writing in a way that maximizes your chances of winning.

Simplifying proposal writing

The difference between ordinary proposal writing and great proposal writing doesn't require more effort if you understand how to write from the customer's perspective. Here are 8 simple things you can do to transform ordinary proposal writing into great proposal writing.

People often struggle with just getting their proposal started. Once you do that everything can fall into place. So here is a two-part strategy for writing great proposal introductions. If you are stuck because you're not sure how your proposal should look, then here is an article that should greatly simplify things for you so you don't have to worry. Telling your story, crafting your message, and articulating your proposal themes, can also be made simpler.

Sometimes it's not really the writing that's the problem, it's figuring out what your win strategies should be. So here are three simple steps for formulating your win strategies

And if all that isn't simple enough for you, you can transform your proposal writing with just a single word.

If it takes too much effort to write a great proposal, then aim for simply not being awful

Sometimes you can make a big improvement without rebuilding your entire approach to proposal writing. Here are 6 ways to simply avoid writing an awful proposal. In addition, here are 8 simple indicators that you’re going down the wrong path before you lose your proposal.

Simplifying the proposal process

Thinking about the proposal process as a series of some huge number of steps is counter-productive. An effective proposal process is based on achieving a few goals. That's it. There are elaborate ways to achieve those goals, and there are simple ways. Which is best for you depends on your circumstances and preferences. But it's the goals of the process that matter and not the steps. When you think in those terms, then it's possible to consider what the simplest, easiest proposal process to get started with might be.

Another aspect to consider is your role, because your role impacts your perspective, and where you should start to improve your proposals.

If you are doing the proposal on your own, you might be tempted to go without a formal process. This is generally a bad idea, because you still need to achieve the same goals as described above. But even without a process, having clear and simple criteria to assess your proposal quality can make it possible to achieve a quality proposal, without having formal reviews.

And if you do have a review process, here is one simple thing you can do to greatly improve your proposal reviews.




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Carl is the Founder and President of CapturePlanning.com and PropLIBRARY.

The materials he has published have helped millions of people develop business and write better proposals. Carl is an expert at winning in writing. He is a prolific author, frequent speaker, trainer, and consultant.

In addition, the groups Carl moderates on LinkedIn provide a place for tens of thousands of business development and proposal professionals to discuss best practices and network.
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Our Master Proposal Startup Information Checklist can be used in a number of different ways. We find it to be especially useful for people who don’t have either a formal process or structure. You don’t have to have some big “process” with all the implementation effort and training that implies to pull out a handy checklist and use it to do things better. That’s what this book is all about.

And for those of you who do have a formal process, you will find topics and ideas in here that you can use to enhance what you have and take it to a higher level.