Tag Archives: business proposal writing

Get to Know 06 Types of Business Proposals

A business proposal is probably one of the most comprehensive documents you will ever learn how to write. According to Ben Mulholland, there are 06 types of business proposals, but first the basics.

Business Proposal: The Basics

Before start writing any business proposal, one must first understand what the proposal is all about and learn the basics of that proposal.

Any business proposal is a written document that offers a specific product or service to a potential customer. According to Ben Mulholland, in his article: 06 Types of Project Proposals that Get Approved, there are 06 types of business proposals.

  • Formally solicited
  • Informally solicited
  • Unsolicited
  • Continuation
  • Renewal
  • Supplemental

Solicited business proposals are submitted in response to a client-issued announcement and unsolicited proposals are presented to potential customers even though unrequested. These are the primary types of business proposals.

A formally solicited business proposal is prepared in response to an official request for proposal (RFP). This is the easiest way of creating a proposal for any new project since the request for proposal document will usually tell us exactly what the customer is expecting and at times, it also provides directions in preparing the proposal. RFP forms are not to be confused with the project request forms though the former is a way to react to the needs directions and desires, whereas the latter one is a way for the management to request for a project of their teams.

Hence, for formally solicited proposals we should opt for a structured approach to respond directly to the RFP details with the right subject matter experts and the best proposal management software.

Informally solicited project proposals are the same as formally solicited proposals, except the information they are based on is not specific in any written document. Because of this, responding may be harder and more research is involved in analyzing such opportunities, but we at least have a little-jagged starting point. It’s much simpler than a piece of small information that separates formal from informal, that is formal proposal requests have prior details, goals, deliverables, and potentially even methods, while informal proposals are based on any conversation.

If we are asked for a proposal but are not given any specifications, then it is an informally solicited one. The approach for this is not much different from a formally solicited one, but we will have to put some extra work in illustrating the details like the objectives and method, and in evaluating how practical the whole thing is.

Unsolicited project proposals are cold deals. No one asks for this; still, it can provide tons of value for our business. These are the proposals that are thought of by a person who is submitting them and can be inspired by anything like a moment in the employee’s daily work to a casual conversation with the Customer. Perhaps these are called as the hardest proposals to present, as you will have to be extra credible as no one asked for the proposal. Hence we have to be little extra prodding. This means gathering more confirmations than the normal to prove the proposal’s standards. One should take extra care while writing to make sure that it’s more convincing.

Planning for Proposal

Once you are comfortable with what kind of proposal we are presenting, we need to research and prepare for the document content to make sure that we do not miss out on vital information. Though what you write will differ based on the type of proposal we are submitting and the format it is using. In any of the proposal, we must concentrate on the below headers mainly. We have to

  • Define our audience
  • Know what problem the proposal handles
  • Research on the current state of the issue
  • Define the proposal clearly
  • Forecast the effect this would hold
  • Calculate the time and resources that would opt for
  • Moreover, finally, create an outline of the document

Focus on understanding the base facts and covering ourselves for any questions that might counter our proposal. Zbizlink’s proposal management software automates the business proposal process for small to corporate proposal teams.

Find 08 Quick Steps to Business Proposal Writing

To better understand steps in writing business proposals one should know the types of business proposals first. In the current blog, we will concentrate on the stages of writing a business proposal. A business proposal is considered one of the most important documents that we need to learn how to write to grow as a proposal professional.

It is the deciding factor that spells the variance between success and failure, no matter you are a freelance proposal writer or you run a company of your own. In today’s business world, industrialists spend hours developing business proposals and failing in getting positive results. On the other hand, some use proposal management tools to streamline the process and can understand the customer requirements after just submitting one business proposal.

The process involved in writing a business proposal:

Basics of a Business Proposal: Before attempting any business proposal, we must first get an understanding of what the proposal is and learn the basics. A business proposal is a written artifact that deals with a specific product or service to a potential customer. As discussed, 06 types of business proposals there are generally two significant kinds of business proposals:

  • Solicited business proposals (which is prepared in response to an official request for a proposal)
  • Unsolicited proposals (proposals that are thought of by a person who is submitting them and can be inspired by anything like a moment in the employee’s daily work to a casual conversation with the customer).

Business Proposal vs. Business Plan: The terms “business proposal” and “business plan” are often used as swappable terms which give us the impression that they are the same. However, they are not. A business proposal is documented to offer a product or service to a client, and a business plan is considered as a formal statement with a set of business goals and how these would be accomplished.

3‘P’s of a Winning Business Proposal: The success mantra behind writing a winning business proposal is the presence and application of the 3‘P’s, are Problem Statement, Proposed Solution, and Pricing Information.

  • Problem Statement: A compelling business proposal should be able to define their requirements plainly and directly to the Customer. This is important because we should not expect the Customer to believe that we can help them to solve their problems if we don’t understand their issues.
  • Proposed Solution: The core criteria for sending out a business proposal is to bid a solution to a problem faced by a Customer. This section should be elaborated in detail as possible and should be able to address every requirement that we have discovered.
  • Pricing Information: For most of the Customers, the pricing information plays a significant role in deciding them whether they would agree with the contract with us or not. Presentation of this part significantly depends on the solution or solutions you include in the previous section. If the solution offered would only entail a short period, a Fee Summary will suffice, if not for longer projects, these payments have to be specific and clear in a Fee Schedule list.

Points to be Considered When Writing a Business Proposal: With the above understanding, we have got some knowledge on the essentials of a winning business proposal. The next important aspect for consideration is to find out what to put under the 3 Ps so that we can develop a business proposal that gets their consideration and wins the contract.

Do our Research: Before you start writing any business proposal, understand that not all clients provide complete requirements, particularly when we are submitting an unsolicited business proposal. Try to research to the entire extent and include the competitors of our customer, and their clients as well. This would ensure that the business proposal will be crisp and detail.

Put ourselves in their Shoes: Another essential thing to be considered while writing a proposal is always to put ourselves in the customer’s shoes. With this we can get some clarity on most of the things like, why should the customer pay this much amount for the solutions that we are providing and how can these changes benefit.

Why us: If we determine the needs of a customer, there may be a probability of other competitors who have done the same which means that there would be others who have submitted their respective proposals to the customer. Hence it is essential to make sure to portray our talents, experiences and other qualifications to convince the customer why they should choose us.

Writing a Business Proposal: Once we get all the required information, we are finally good to go. One of the best ways of writing a convincing proposal is to use a proposal management software like Zbizlink. These programs help us to write our business proposal without worrying about how they should align together and the content that we need to include. When you write your proposal, it’s important to be as clear and concise as possible. Zbizlink is a business proposal management software that  assists you with a wide range of document responsibility for each Opportunity and goes beyond quality expectations.

05 FAQs To Answering an RFP with a Proposal

Get answers to the top 05 faqs to answering an RFP with a proposal and proposal management tool.

#1 What is an RFP?

When a customer has requirements that they are not able to manage on their own, they seek help from external vendors to do it for them. The services or products from external vendors will be solicited by the means of a document called the “request for proposal” (RFP). This document is sent to multiple vendors who will compete to win the bid for the project.

Depending on the requirement, the RFP may be anywhere between 1 to 1000 pages long. Sometimes, customers share requirements even via a simple email thread. Most of the time, especially in government proposal writing, the RFP can be very information-intensive and more than 200 pages. (RFP software come in handy here)

#2 What is an RFP Response?

Once vendors receive the RFP, they read it thoroughly to understand the customer’s requirements. Then, they prepare a response document. This document acts as their business proposal. The business proposal is called an RFP response.

The RFP response tells the customer how the vendor plans to solve the customer’s problem. It gives them a lot of other supporting material that proves their knowledge about tackling similar problems.

The business proposal RFP response is key to winning business. It often has an audience covering a wide spectrum of organizational roles- ranging from managers and architects to CEOs, CFOs, and COOs. Hence, the business proposal must be created in a very professional way. Its language, dictum, format, clarity, honesty, empathy, excellence, and attitude reflect on the vendor who has written it.

For vendors, business proposals are the most important documents that go to customers. In it lies the essence of everything the vendor is trying to sell. It is the one chance the vendor gets to show that they have thoroughly understood the customer’s problem, that they have the best solution for that problem, and that they want what’s in the best interest of the customer.

The goal of a business proposal is to win business. To win business, it must help customers understand how their solutions will benefit the customer, why they are better than the competition, how the change will be managed and how projects will be executed. It also contains the terms and conditions that apply and the price- which are key factors that affect a win.

#3 What is the first thing you must do before writing a proposal?

The first thing you must do to win business is to plan to win it. The APMP, a global body that sets standards for proposal writing, suggests spending at least 15% of your time just to plan what strategy and content must go into planning. You can do this planning once you and your team have spent enough time reading about the requirement in the RFP.

After a thorough reading, you can then discuss individual findings and opinions during a “Kick-off-meeting”. The kick-off meeting helps set the right strategy to help create a meticulous and successful proposal. During the meeting, it is also important to discuss the business proposal format and layout.

Ask the following questions to keep your proposal planning on track during the kick-off meeting:

  • What are the needs of the customer?
  • What are the underlying reasons behind the release of this RFP?
  • What content comes first/ is most important to win the business?
  • What content adds value?
  • What content can be removed without affecting our likelihood of winning?

It is crucial that the business proposal is created using a good proposal template. Sometimes, customers themselves give a specific business proposal format for vendors to use. It is a good practice, even if the customer does not provide it, to ask the customer, “Do you want it in a specific format?”

Government proposal writing often demands that business proposals must be submitted according to a standard format, with contents in a specific order. Government proposal writing sometimes even demands the use of a specific font, header, footer, margin width, and paper quality.

#4 How much effort will it take to write a good proposal?

Short answer: A lot. Writing a proposal, small or big; takes a considerable amount of effort.

For a large bid, proposals can be anywhere between 100-1000 pages long. The proposal writer takes a lot of effort to write, edit and review a proposal. It takes just as much time to read, comprehend and evaluate it for the customer. At the customer’s office, managers who are to evaluate the proposal may be voracious, casual, or unenthusiastic readers. Often there are more than three evaluators who are not a homogeneous group. Hence, proposals must be filled with not just information, but with consideration and empathy towards the reader.

#5 How can I manage the bid cycle and deliver a winning proposal?

It is vital to rely on the best proposal management software to help you in every phase of the business development lifecycle. Zbizlink is a proposal management tool that supports you from qualification to proposal delivery.

From helping you identify opportunities, to finding partners who can help you win, Zbizlink implements the solutions for the 05 FAQs to answering an RFP. From capturing requirements to automatically getting you answers to RFP questions and storing templates that create proposals on a click. Zbizlink does it all!

What More Can I Do To Win the Proposal?

You’ve put forth your best effort to put together a winning proposal, but it’s just not enough. If you’re wondering “what more can I do to win the proposal?”, first pat yourself on the back for wanting to improve your strategy. That’s always the first step to progress.

Bidding for government or commercial bids is not an easy task.

In complex bid documents, the amount of content, data, and information is extensive and often confusing. Handling so much content is cumbersome. Proposal managers and capture managers must read the entire RFP, understand the requirements, and make evaluations – a hard task without an RFP software.

Sometimes, the proposal manager receives multiple RFPs at the same time. They must understand the requirements of each independent RFP without getting confused.

However, without a professional approach to proposal management, confusion ensues, and so does chaos. Somehow, the proposals are delivered, but they seldom win. There is a good reason for this: They are simply not compliant or responsive.

Most proposals that make it to the second round of an evaluation process are compliant. A few proposals are responsive. Even fewer proposals are compliant and responsive, and those are the ones that win. It is crucial that we know the difference between “Compliance” and “Responsiveness.”

Compliant Proposals

Compliant proposals meet the customer’s stated needs and requirements. Some examples of what shows “compliance” in a proposal are given below:

  • Adhering to the schedule mentioned in the RFP;
  • Adhering to the order in which the customer has requested the proposal to be laid out;
  • Answering all the questions in the RFI; and
  • Responding to each of the RFP requirements.

One great way to ensure compliance is to create a compliance matrix. The compliance matrix is a radically important part of the proposal development lifecycle. Always create a compliance matrix irrespective of the size of the bid or its due date. The table below is an example of a compliance matrix.

Compliance Matrix Compliance

  • (Yes, No, Partial)
  • Comments Page #
  • Date of submission
  • Delivery Address
  • Person to Contact
  • Number of pages
  • Content Sequence
  • Requirement #1
  • Requirement #2
  • Requirement #3

The compliance matrix must be created at the beginning of the proposal development process. Creating the compliance matrix in the early stages of the proposal development process ensures that everyone who is working on the bid is aware of the compliance factors.

It must be a live document that is updated throughout the proposal process. If the customer sends an amendment, an appendix or an additional requirement via email, the compliance matrix must be updated.

You can also include the compliance matrix in the proposal response which tells the customer in which page of the response document their concerns have been addressed. It will act as a checklist for both you and your evaluators to make sure that you have complied with all the stated needs and requirements in the RFP.

Responsive Proposals

Responsive proposals, on the other hand, meet the customer’s unstated needs. They don’t just give information to the customer. They give value. These unstated needs are the underlying reasons behind the customer’s articulated needs and problem statements in the RFP.

Some examples of what shows “responsiveness” in a proposal are given below:

Showcasing that you understand the customer’s business and industry
Using language in your proposal that the customer can relate with
Showing empathy to the customer’s pain points and addressing their underlying reasons.

Helping the customer understand the benefits of your solution and not just its features.

Finding out these unstated needs and reasons behind the RFP takes a considerable amount of research. To make your proposal more responsive, the proposal development team needs to perform thorough mining through market intelligence. They must collect notes from the meetings with customers. They must sift through annual reports. In developing a strategy, they must involve other personnel in your company who had worked with the customer before and understood them.

Often, there is an overwhelming amount of information that comes from this kind of research. Moreover, the proposal development team may be misled to believe that all this information is equally important. The business development team must know how to curate and find information that matters. Otherwise, the hunt for unstated needs will distract them from compliance. Like we mentioned before, winning proposals are both responsive and compliant. If a proposal is only responsive, it will fail to even qualify for the next round.

If you have a tool that can help you track and manage compliance automatically, it gives you more time to enhance responsiveness. Using the best proposal management software, you can easily track and manage the compliance requirements of the customer. Zbizlink is the right proposal management software for automation, better proposal management, and smarter analysis. All you need to do is to upload an RFP document to Zbizlink and the proposal management tool automatically fetches basic compliance criteria.

It helps you save much time. That way, you can spend more time building a proposal that exhibits responsiveness and empathy, without compromising on compliance. Win the proposal, stay compliant, and maintain responsiveness.