Planning and Writing a Proposal
Okay, those are the components of a successful sales proposal. But how do you go about planning and writing one? The answer depends on what you are selling, to whom, and in what format the proposal is required to be delivered. Proposals to governmental bodies, such as the U.S. General Services Administration
It may not seem so, but the design and format of most requests for proposals has been thoroughly considered before publication. There is a reason for every component, though it may not seem obvious. The reason, typically, is to make the buyer's decision process easier. In fact, most proposal formats are about “process.” A
The point is that to submit successful sales proposals, you must first consider, understand, and follow the required format. Most of them, especially when developed by governmental bodies, are intended to
If your buyers prefer proposals made online, copy them to your computer so you can analyze them at leisure. Also, download documentation and other tips that will guide you in developing the proposal as required. Then spend the time to go over all documents to ensure that you understand requirements and can meet filing deadlines. Many government proposal sites also offer telephone numbers to ask relevant questions.
In most sales operations, more than one person develops a sales proposal. It may be begun by support staff, continued by the salesperson, and then reviewed by a sales manager or other superior. Reviews are vital to accuracy. Make sure that your proposal is reviewed for technical accuracy or at least grammar before submission. In fact, your first few proposals may require a signoff by your superior.
Proposal deadlines have a function: they close the door. Without a deadline for submissions, decisions cannot be made. All RFQs and RFPs include a deadline; most are unchangeable and cannot be extended by the buyer without notifying all participants. In a few cases, RFPs are rescinded or declared incomplete. However, the vast majority of RFPs have a set, unchangeable deadline that you are required to meet if you want your proposal to be considered.
It is vital, therefore, that as soon as you decide to bid, you begin to develop an action plan toward completing the proposal in advance of the established deadline. If the deadline for delivery is in ninety days, establish a deadline for defining all requirements, a research period to develop details, and another deadline for gathering components into a first draft with executive summary. Then allow sufficient time for fact-checking, internal review, and editing to make sure that the proposal is ready in advance of the deadline. Like all projects, other events occur that can delay progress for a week or two. If time for contingencies isn't figured into the schedule, the deadline may be missed and the time and efforts lost. Meet your proposal deadlines!