5 Tips for Writing a Win-Win Proposal

After several years of writing many proposals with mixed success, here are the key lessons I have learned for writing a proposal that’s a win for you and the client.

  1. What’s the problem? Following a professional-looking cover page, start the body of the proposal with a summary of the client organization and their presenting problem. This shows that you were listening and reminds them about the agony of their current situation. If it is possible to describe how the issue impacts their business in terms of cost, schedule, quality or customer relations, this helps to convey the return on their investment in your offer.
  2. Why are you right for the job? Next, provide a short summary of your background, illustrating why you are qualified to help an organization such as theirs with a problem such as the one they’ve described. Provide a link to a more detailed biography and testimonials, such as your LinkedIn profile.
  3. What’s the offer? Give a high-level overview of the approach you intend to take. Don’t spell it out in so much detail that they can hand it to someone else at a cheaper rate to easily implement. If offering multiple options at various prices (which I highly recommend), show the options in a table or other format for easy comparison.
  4. What’s the plan? Show that you expect to win the proposal and that you’re prepared to implement any one of the offers. Include draft timelines, any deliverables, and the expected results.
  5. How long is the offer good? Establish an expiration date that provides a short but reasonable period of time for the offer to be considered. Two to four weeks has worked for me. This gives you a good reason to follow-up and gives the client a sense of urgency to make a decision. Before I started including expiration dates, I had a client want to accept a proposal that I presented a few years prior. By that time, my prices had increased and my calendar was full. That created an uncessarily awkward situation.