The Art ofProposal Writing by Messan Lanre (A fast rising idea strategist in Africa) Chief Idea Officer, Infinite Impact Company
Welcome….At the end of this Workshop, you will have learnt;• What Proposals Are and Can do• The various types of Proposals and their Functions• The Demographics for Offering Winning Value Propositions• The Step by Step Approach to Writing and Packaging a Winning Proposal• The Avoidables and the Unavoidables of Proposal Writing• The Art of Developing your own Proposal Framework
Before the proposal, there is the Customer…• The primary aim of every proposal is to convince, persuade, influence, and inform the customer, client, decision- makers, end-users, influencers, gatekeepers.• The truth is if you must submit a proposal that is filled with boilerplate text that focuses on yourself, you are giving the customer an impersonal experience. You are delivering a document that fails to acknowledge the customer’s unique needs, values or interest.
WHAT PROPOSALS ARE AND CAN DO• Every proposal is a sales document with a basic goal to persuade and move the sales process toward closure.• The proposal has to be persuasive, accurate and complete. As an individual, your proposal will be partly an introduction, partly a statement of qualifications, partly a work plan, partly pricing, and partly an articulation of the reasons why the client should approve your recommendations.• A business proposal is designed to describe — to an extent sufficient to sell the idea — the concept you are proposing to your client.
‘A written proposal is a sellingdocument, a statement of yourcapabilities to address a given clientrequirement.A proposal says I can do what YOUWANT.’
• A winning proposal, on the other hand, does not simply say, Hey, I can do that! but rather:• Hey, I fully understand what you are trying to do, I have a much better understanding than any of my competitors, I have a better solution to your problems than anyone else, I can do a better job of delivering the required solution, and at a more attractive cost than anyone else, and here’s why…”.
In addition to this, you have some explaining to do:• What will you accomplish for the client?• How long will it take?• What resources will be required?• How will they benefit from the project?• How much will it cost?• Who are you to be making these recommendations?• Why do they need you?• Why should they have confidence in your ability to do the work correctly?• Why should they accept your recommendations?
In order to answer these questions, your proposal shouldstart with an introduction to what you plan to accomplishand how they will benefit (start by explaining whats in it forthem). Then provide your work plan, includingmethodologies, resources, and schedule. You might alsoprovide your proposal to support your ability to deliver aspromised. Once youve laid this foundation, provide yourpricing and rationale, emphasizing the return on investmentand value.
Depending on the complexity of your workplan, this can usually be accomplished in acouple of pages. You can use any format thatwill fulfill the clients expectations. Yourproposal could be in the form of aletter, memo, report, document, email, orcontract.
WHAT A PROPOSAL CAN DO FOR YOU• A good proposal can help you make money by convincing people to choose you to provide the products or services they need. In the nonprofit realm, it can help you obtain funding in support of your mission and objectives.• A good proposal can position what you have as a solution to a business problem, and helps you to justify a slightly higher price than your competitor by showing that you will provide superior value.
• A good proposal can persuade the reader to take an action, make a selection, reach a decision, spend money, offer a job, or grant a raise.• A good proposal can help you compete successfully without having personal contact with every member of the decision team.• A good proposal can help you demonstrate competence and professionalism enabling you to sell to the smart buyer while offering a bundled solution.
WHAT A PROPOSAL CAN DO FOR THE CLIENTA good proposal can help the decision maker to:• Compare vendors, offers or prices so he or she can make an informed decision.• Clarify complex information• Make the buying process more ― objective‖• Slow down the sales process• Solicit creative ideas, become educated, or get free consulting.
THE VARIOUS TYPES OF PROPOSALS AND THEIR FUNCTIONS Basically, proposals are categorized as solicited or unsolicited; however, solicited proposals are requested for by the clients with specific criteria and description of what they want while unsolicited proposal is written and submitted on impulse or based on perceived needs of the client, without the client asking for it. – Business Proposal – Sales Proposal – Sponsorship Proposal – Idea Development Proposal – Case study – Investment Proposals
VARIOUS TYPES OF PROPOSALS• Real estate Proposals• Banking Proposals• Funding Proposals• Insurance Proposals• Construction Proposals• Product Development Proposals• Marketing Proposals• Janitorial Service Proposals• Joint-Venture Proposals• Software Proposals• Advertising Proposals
Functions of Proposals• A proposal may function in three ways as outlined;• As a means of communication – to inform, educate, analyze, convince, propose and explain details.• As a plan – to execute set f principles, strategies or recommend.• As a contract – to serve as a guide of work or legal document to process business or deals. It is the basis for report.
THE DEMOGRAPHICS FOR OFFERING WINNING VALUE PROPOSITIONS • What is Value Proposition? • Value proposition is a description of the customer problem, the solution that addresses the problem, and the value of this solution from the customers perspective. • The Value Proposition. For each option that you present to the potential customer, provide a value proposition. Your value proposition should be something that can be conveyed in three to five bullet points, three to five sentences, or spoken in thirty seconds or less. You should be precise and succinct. Present the value proposition from the customer point of view. For example, rather than say "we ship in three to five days", you could say "the product will typically arrive at your door in three to five days". Rather than say "we have the fastest process", you could say "our process is fast, so you get results faster"
• Its important when developing your value proposition that it be clear and concise. Its best to start by brainstorming and focusing on what needs your target demographic group have in common. This can be done by market research. What do they all want that your business can provide? What is important to them?• Once youve found the common denominating need you can determine what it is that they are in search of and develop your value proposition around that need.• Keep in mind that the purpose of your value proposition is to identify and satisfy an unmet need that your target market possesses.
THE PERSUASIVE PARADIGM• The Persuasive Paradigm is a classic approach to offering great values to the clients. Consider this four point strategy:• The Customers Needs: Demonstrate you understand the customer’s needs, issues, or problems.• Outcomes: Focus on the outcomes or results the customer wants to achieve.• Recommend a solution• Prove you can do it• Varieties of values
• Cost: – Lowest price, or – Best price/performance, or – Return on Investment (ROI).• Technical: – Superior specifications, or – Programme/solution design, or – Better technical personnel.• Quality: – Improving reliability – Enhancing maintain ability – Increasing ease of use• Competition: – Achieving the best total improvement in operational and financial performance – Leaping past a competitors position – Dominating the market
Credibility• whether the lead decision-maker is technically, financially or administratively oriented, the credibility of your organization can be a compelling argument for or against your proposal. You could have been selected because of: – Who your organization is, or – Your team members, or – Client industry experience.• You can get started by developing your value proposition today.• Here is an example of one of the best value proposition that belongs to a sales consultant:
Our clients grow their business, large orsmall, typically by a minimum of 30-50%over the previous year. They accomplish thiswithout working 80 hour weeks andsacrificing their personal lives.
STEP BY STEP APPROACH TO WRITING AND PACKAGING PROPOSALSA simple proposal formula• For each section/requirement that you must address, make sure you answer: who, what, where, how, when, and why. Repeat it until it rolls off your tongue and you have it memorized.• Focus on benefits first, supported by the features of your offering, then provide proof
Successful proposals are:• Customer focused• Responsive• Easy to evaluateStages involved inpreparing your proposal
Processes• Research, Writing, Production, Submission, Presentation, Follow –up, De-briefFORMATSThe Highlights …• Business Proposal• Sales Proposal• Sponsorship Proposal• Idea Development Proposal• Case study
• Business Proposal: A business proposal is a written offer from a seller to a prospective buyer. Business proposals are often a key step in the complex sales process--i.e., whenever a buyer considers more than price in a purchase. Examples of formats:1. Front2. Body3. Appendices• Data• Bibliography and references
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY• The challenges you face• The outcomes you need• The solutions we recommendDETAILS• The solutions explained• Our implementation strategies• What we have done• The guarantee of service deliveryRESUME• Who we are• Our team• Contact/Communication person
Sales Proposal: This is a document offering valuable sales proposition strategies. Format Example 1: • Introduction/Situation Analysis • Overview of Product or service • Customer’s issues, needs • Solutions/Benefits/Evidence • Implementation plan/Project steps • Pricing • About Us • Conclusion Example 2: • Brief/Problem Analysis • Aims, Objectives and Adoptable • The Competition • The Opportunities, and Past Achievement • Recommended Strategies and Marketing Plan and Resources • Budget • Who we are
Sales Proposal StructureA proven, five-section structure for writing winning sales proposals. Five Proposal Main Sections 1. Client Background 2. Proposed Solution 3. Implementation 4. Seller Profile 5. Business Issues Four Key Proposal Components A sales proposal should also include the following four components: 1. Title Page 2. Table of Contents 3. Executive Summary 4. Appendices
Sponsorship proposal: This is a document asking a company to support a cause, an event, a person, organization, business or a group of people, financially or by the contribution of goods, products, services, manpower, etc.FormatExample 1:• Title page• Project description• Strategic approach• Specifications• Partners• Benefits• Sponsorship• Conclusion
Example 2:• The Letter• What we offer• Who we target• Why we do this• When and Where• Our Intent• How this adds value• Means of Sponsorship• Conclusion
Idea Development Proposal: This is a document that entails unsubstantiated knowledge based propositions containing solution driven values basically for utility or commercial purposes.Format Example 1:• Background• Concept Description• Strategic plan• Marketing plan• Implementation plan• Expected outcomes• Resources• Action plan(task based)• Conclusions
Example 2:• Title page/One Liner content• Introduction• Project Capacity• Project Objectives• Project Goal• Project Details• Proposed partners• Expected Results• Rationale/Market Analysis• Sequence Activities• Project Needs• About Us• Contact Persons
• Case Study: A case study is a puzzle that has to be solved. The first thing to remember about writing a case study is that the case should have a problem for the readers to solve. In writing a case, you must follow three basic steps namely: Research, Analyze and write.• Format example: A basic format features: Situation, Solution, Benefits and Lessons Learnt. However, other formats are:Example 1.• Title page• Executive Summary• Introduction• Literature Review• Methodology• Study• Analysis• Recommendation• Conclusion• References and Appendices
• Example 2.• Introduction• Project Background• Project Objectives• Project Strategies• Process Solutions• Project Challenges• Project Evaluation and Outcome• Project Next Steps• Conclusion
The Avoidable and the Unavoidable of Proposal writingThe Avoidable• The Seven Deadly Sins of Proposal Writing• Failure to focus on the client’s business problems and payoffs – the contents sounds generic• No persuasive structure – the proposal is an ―information dump‖.• No clear differentiation of this vendor compared to others.• Failure to offer a compelling value proposition.• Key points are buried – no impact, no highlighting.• Difficult to read because they are full of jargon, too long, or too technical.• Credibility killers – misspellings, grammar and punctuation errors, use of the wrong client’s name, inconsistent formats, similar mistakes.
The Unavoidable – Gimme a KISS - Keep It Short and Simple – GYST – Don’t write anything until you ―Get Your Stuff Together‖ – Write using a natural voice tone i.e. make it conversational – Use short, simple sentences. A sentence is an idea. Sentences work when they contain only one idea. They work best when they are short and simple. Apply Sant’s Law to every sentence which states that ―To write a clear direct sentence, make sure the key idea is embedded in the heart of the sentence.‖
What is the heart of the sentence?It is the subject the verb ad the compliment – usually the direct object or indirect object. You need to ask yourself continuously, does my SVC communicate the key idea?See this:• It would appear that enhanced access to the database on the part of our key executives is desirable.• This could work:• Our key executives need better access to the database• And in fact:• Executives need access (SVC) is simply maintained – Watch Your Words – Use everyday language in your writing. As a rule, use one or two syllable words like 90%.
• The Art of Developing Your Own Proposal Framework• Please pick up your pens and let us get the ball rolling! THANK YOU!