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How to write effective proposals

Running a small business is challenging and very competitive. So what’s a quick and effective way to stand out from competitors who are after the same customers? The key to getting ahead is through proposals.

Proposals are an essential tool to win customers and differentiate your business from the rest. A well structured written proposal can be time-consuming and requires a lot of effort to put together, but it’s worth it. It’s an essential tool to show your understanding of the project, highlight your expertise and demonstrate the reasons why you should be trusted for the job! This article will guide you through how to write an effective proposal that wins customers.

Quotes vs Proposals

Quotes can help a customer understand the cost of the jobs while proposals provide more information on your solution to their problem. It’s important to decide whether a simple quote could suffice or if a detailed proposal will give you a better chance of securing the job.

Automated quotes that are immediately sent to a lead’s job request is effective because you’d be the first one considered. On the other hand, a proposal proves to a lead that you have a proper understanding of their job requirements and that your business has the best solution.

How to write proposals efficiently

Whether you’re a new or established business it’s important to capture what makes your services unique. Put aside some time to create a proposal template that you can easily fill out when a customer approaches you for a job. Information such as: 

  • The services you provide
  • Unique selling proposition (USP) – what makes you different to your competitors 
  • A story about why you’re in business
  • Reviews and ratings

How to structure your proposal

  1. Executive Summary
  2. Define the problem
  3. Present your solution
  4. Outline the project schedule and budget
  5. Conclusion: Tie it all together
  6. Terms and conditions (optional)

Use a customer focus perspective

A customer-focused perspective means putting your customers’ needs first. This way of writing shows that you not only value, but have an understanding of what is important to them.

When creating your proposal, explain what the problem is and provide solutions that align with what’s important to the customer. Include personalised solutions to set you apart from your competitors.

To assess if you have understood your customer’s perspective, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Who is the decision-maker?
  • What is the problem? What are the issues?
  • What motivated them to find a solution?
  • What is important to them? What do they care about?
  • Are they familiar with your company?
  • What are your strengths in relation to their problem?

Once you have answered these questions, you can get to work on your proposal.

Here are some conciseness rules you can follow to make a winning proposal:

  • Write conversationally
  • Begin with an executive summary of fewer than four sentences
  • Keep sentences short and crisp
  • Keep paragraphs short
  • Use bullet points, numbers, and white space
  • Avoid using a passive voice
  • Tell a story