Your good proposal is going to lose. You can’t charm your way into a sale in writing because selling in writing is different than selling in person. In fact, winning in writing is more like cooking than speaking.
You have to have all the ingredients. You have to have done your pre-proposal homework and be prepared with an information advantage. You won't get there just using a template, and proposal persuasion is not about having magic words. You have to have the right bid strategies and offering design. There are so many ingredients that you can’t just simply write. You have to have a plan for what you are going to write. But at the end of the day it all comes down to whether what you say matters to the customer.
The vast majority of proposals we review are about the company submitting the proposal instead of being about the customer. But you do not matter. Everything about you needs to be written in the context of what matters to the customer. You have to see things from their perspective. This is the most important skill for cultivating great proposal writing. It also helps to be good at problem solving and match making. But it does require that you have the information you need. And it helps if you avoid saying things in a way that does not matter to the customer.
The things that you need to do to transform ordinary proposal writing into great proposal writing are not that difficult. And yet some people struggle with proposal writing, so here is what a great proposal writer does differently. It can come down to understanding the importance of a single word. These small things are what make the difference between a good proposal and a great proposal.
If your proposal is all about your company and full of promises of commitment and unsubstantiated claims, then it probably adds up to nothing in the customer's eyes. You should read your proposal as if you are the customer, and ask yourself what's the point of your proposal? Then start deleting everything that isn't vital to what you need to say.
If you are still struggling with writing a great proposal, then at least show the right emotion. And if you can't do that, then here are six tips that can at least save you from writing an awfully bad proposal.
If you are struggling with insurmountable challenges and the best practices have all failed you, it might be time to try doing proposals The Wrong Way™...
The MustWin Process provides help for people who have to complete proposal writing assignments.
- Introduction to Proposal Writing
- A simple formula for proposal writing
- How to Go Beyond RFP Compliance
- How contributors can help manage expectations during a proposal
- Identifying Graphics
- Setting priorities as a proposal writer
- Proposal style and editorial issues
- Proposal production and submission
- What To Do When You Receive a Proposal Assignment
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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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