How To Write A Contract Winning Business Proposal – A Comprehensive Guide

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A business proposal is often mistaken for a business plan. However, these two are not the same. A business plan is a written comprehensive plan of how you intend to execute or carry out your business idea, while a business proposal is a written official offer of sales or services from a vendor or seller to a prospective client or buyer, intended to persuade the buyer to buy the goods or services of the seller.

A business proposal can often make or break your chances of securing a new client or contract. Writing a unique business proposal is very vital and could give your business the needed boost and patronage that you desire.

Types of business proposals

There are two basic types of business proposals, which includes:

– Solicited proposal: Here, the prospective buyer requests for proposals from contractors or clients formally ( formally solicited proposal ) or informally or orally ( informally solicited proposal ).
Official solicited proposals are usually tendered in response to any of the following calls for proposal: invitation for bids ( IFB ), request for quotation, ( RFQ ), request for proposal ( RFP ), request for information ( RFI ) etc.

– Unsolicited proposal: This is a proposal that is sent by a vendor to a client without being requested by the client. They are basically intended to introduce a product or service to prospective clients in order to initiate a possibility of a sale. Some vendors present  marketing brochures to prospective clients as a way of informal proposal.

Sometimes a prospective buyer may ask contractors to tender their business proposals for a particular contract. However, if you really want to be more aggressive in marketing, you don’t need to wait for solicited proposals. On your own, you can identify prospective buyers and send them your business proposals even without them asking.

In solicited business proposals, your proposal will be competing with many others from other vendors. How then can you make yours to be irresistible and appealing? That is the reasons for this article.

Writing Your Contract Winning Business Proposal – Preliminary Stages

When you see a request for proposals, RFP, you don’t just rush into writing and sending your business proposal. There are some things that you need to take into consideration in order to evaluate your chances of having your proposal to be chosen from among the many others and to determine if writing and sending your proposal is necessary.

Here are a few things you should do in order to ensure that your business proposal will be accepted when all others are rejected.

1. Ensure you understand the client’s demands in the proposal. Your proposal must address the needs of your client, else it won’t succeed.

2. Ensure you have all it takes to meet the demands of the proposal. Ensure you have the qualification, experience, manpower and capacity to deliver the project with optimum quality.

3. Ensure that you can meet the deadline of the project. A good project not delivered in time or as scheduled is flawed. Ensure you can meet the target, if not, you may reconsider whether or not you should go ahead with the bid in order not to put your reputation and brand on the line.

4. Try to be considerate in your pricing or charges. Don’t charge exorbitantly. Be fair and considerate. An outrageous charge could  make you lose opportunities as most clients want high quality products and services, but within their budget.

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5. Give the proposal writing your best shot. A poorly written proposal won’t attractive contracts even if you are very qualified to execute the contract. Each section of the proposal should be comprehensive and detailed. Below is a guide on how to write a professional business proposal. You may seek the help of a professional to write one for you if you are not sure you can write it properly.

Writing Your Contract Winning Business Proposal – Actual Composition

There are several formats used by people to write a business proposal. However, regardless of the format, the basics remain the same. Definitely, a business proposal is composed of three parts:

– Statement of the problem you wish to solve.

– Statement of the  proposed solution to the problem as you would provide.

– Statement of the price estimate you would need to provide the solution to the problem.

The basic sections and components of the business proposal are as follows:

A. Title Page

This should include your name, the name of your company, the name of the person to whom you’re submitting your proposal, and the date submitted.

B. Table of Contents

The table of contents could be in the format below:

1.0 Executive Summary

2.0 Statement of problem

3.0 Proposed Solution

3.1 Methodology

3.2 Qualifications

3.3  Schedule and Benchmarks

4.0 Pricing Estimate

4.1 Cost

4.2 Payment

4.3 Legal Matters

4.4 Benefits and conclusion

5.0 Appendix

Now let’s see how the main body of the proposal should be written as listed in the table of contents above.

1.0 Executive Summary

This is where you give a summary of your business and the products or services you provide. You can look at your business plan’s executive summary, as this would point out your unique selling point or proposition, USP and aid you to write the executive summary.

2.0 Statement of Problem

In this section you should discuss the  problem or the need that the client is facing. Show the client that you understand their needs and fully grasp the issue they are trying to resolve. This section will help the client to understand and believe that you fully understand his/her demand, problem or issue and since you do, you might be able to provide the needed solution. If the client sees that you do not understand his problem, then every other thing you are saying won’t make much sense to him.

3.0 Proposed Solution

The purpose of this section is to say how you intend to solve the problem or resolve the  issues identified in the statement of problem above. This is the section that is most likely to distinguish your proposal from those of your clients. Your ability to present a more suitable, precise and convincing solution to the client’s needs is a deciding factor for winning the proposal.

In this section, you should concisely summarize your methodology, qualifications, and (if necessary) your schedule and benchmarks. It is better and helpful to write this section after you have completed the other sections below.

3.1 Methodology

Everybody can claim to have the solution to a client’s problem, however, stating in concise form the steps and methods that would be taken to solve the issue is of paramount importance to many clients. Most clients want to be sure that the method you will use to meet their needs are convenient, safe, legal and reliable.

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Therefore, in writing this section, show your potential client how you intend to tackle their problem. Lay out the steps you intend to follow in order to carry out your plan. Details are important here, as is clear, concise, jargon-free writing. Don’t overdo this section; after all, you want your reader to get a very clear sense of your plan.

3.2 Qualifications

Most clients ( especially regulated companies ) will want to be sure that you have the needed qualifications to carry out the task you intend to do. Occupational safety which is practiced by most standard companies demands that a contractor should have and provide the needed qualifications required to carry out a particular task as a control measure to reduce the risk of accident or harm.

Brag a little in this section. You’re trying to convince the potential client that you’re the most qualified person for the job. Mention any relevant education, industry-specific training, certifications, years of experience, or successfully completed projects that relate to what you’re offering.

3.3 Schedule and Benchmarks

This is a very important aspect of the proposal. No matter how professional your services are, if you cannot deliver the project on time as requested by the client, then your proposal is flawed. However, be realistic in your schedule. It is better to ask for a longer time and deliver before the expected time than to promise to deliver on a particular time and fail to meet the target.

Use this topic to explain how long you expect the proposed project to take, or when deliverables will be made. Make sure you’re on the same page as the prospective client so that if you win their business, both you and the client stay positive and satisfied throughout the process. Never underestimate how long it will take you to complete the project.

One way of writing this section is to do a table with three columns with the following heading: – project phase,
– activities to be carried out,
– expected completion date.

4.0 Pricing Estimate

In this section, state the cost, payment, and schedule for delivery (if applicable) for the products or services that you intend to provide to the client. You need to also include any legal requirements that need to be attended to. Do reiterate here to your prospective client why you’re the best choice among other competitors.

4.1 Cost

Use this section to state your costs, including optional items, which will result in the overall cost of the project. You can show this cost in a tabular form with a column showing the project phase and another column showing the cost of the project phase. Also add other miscellaneous expenses and labour costs. Then, at the end of the table, add a total of the costs.

4.2 Payment

This is the section where you need to state how you wish to be paid. Depending on the cost of the total project, the type of services involved and your financial capability, you may want to state that you need a one-time payment or payment in installments. If the client was the one to request for the business proposal, make sure to refer back to their request, to ensure you’re including everything they asked for and in some cases the client may state their preferred payment method or schedule. Therefore, you may want to go by the client’s preferred payment schedule.

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4.3 Legal Matters

Some projects require legal considerations, permits and approvals. If that is the case with the project you are to deliver to your client, then you need to include the legal requirements that need to be attended to, such as permits, licensing, and so on. If there’s a lot of legal information that needs to be gotten and met for this project/service, you can make this a separate section.

4.4 Benefits and conclusion

This is your final chance to impress and convince your prospective client that you are the best person to handle the  project, supplies, delivery or services. Don’t be afraid to tell your prospective client what they have to gain by choosing you to execute the project. Remind them why you’re the best choice, and all the ways they will benefit from choosing you and your business as their preferred solution.
Then concluded the entire proposal by giving a brief  highlight of the basic elements.

5.0 Appendix

This is not mandatory, but necessary, depending on the type of project or services.  In this section you can include several documentation that can help to give you and your proposal more credibility. You can include certifications, awards your company has received, your resumé, customer testimonials, some graph projections, and other things that could not directly fit into the body of the business proposal.

Bottom line

As I said at the beginning of this article, a business proposal can often make or break your chances of securing a new client or contract. Writing a unique business proposal is very vital and could give your business the needed boost and patronage that you desire.

When you have that opportunity to tender a business proposal to prospective clients, do not handle the proposal with laxity. Ensure that you give it your best shot. Do your research and get all the information you need about the company and the requirements of the proposal so that you can give your clients a satisfactory proposal that would endear you to them, so that you can win the contract and get even many more contracts subsequently.

If you want us to help you write a professional business proposal, feel free to contact us.

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