The best way to organize your proposal is around what the customer is looking for. But you have to do it in a very literal sense.
The customer is looking for something tangible. They are looking for something in black and white, spelled out, and written down.
Different customers look for different things. But if you can anticipate what your customer is looking for, you have a significant advantage. Here are some examples of what your customer might be looking for:
- Answers to questions
- Keywords that match the RFP
- Evidence that you followed instructions
- Strengths and weaknesses
- Product names, company names, or brands
- Alternatives or options
- Something that wasn’t in the RFP
- Whether they can trust you
- What they should do
- What to tell their boss
- How to complete their evaluation forms
- Capabilities that could come in handy
- Things that differentiate you from your competitors
- Affordability and savings
- Risk mitigation
- Reliability and quality
- The path of least resistance
- Short term or long term gain
- A better future
If you understand what the customer is looking for, then the critical question becomes how will they find it? And what can you do to make that easier?
Making it easy for the customer to find what they are looking for impacts:
- How you develop your outline
- How you word your headings
- How you design your layout to draw the reader’s eye
- What you say, how you say it, and the order you say it in
- What you emphasize
- How you incorporate citations and references
- What you leave in, what you take out, and the level of detail you go into
In other words, everything about your proposal.
Everything about our proposal should be driven by how to make sure the customer can easily find what they are looking for. It really is that simple.
Instead of worrying about how your proposal should look, or what you should write, or even how to be persuasive, just focus on what they need to find and make it easy. Of course, the hard part is knowing what they are looking for. That is harder than writing the proposal.
If you are putting all your effort into the proposal, you might want to reconsider and put more effort into finding out what the customer is looking for. Research it, study it, and ponder it. When you can articulate it, you’ll know what should go into your proposal.
Carl is the Founder and President of CapturePlanning.com and PropLIBRARY
Carl is an expert at winning in writing. The materials he has published have helped millions of people develop business and write better proposals. Carl is also a prolific author, frequent speaker, trainer, and consultant and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. To find out more about him, you can also connect with Carl on LinkedIn.