Does your business promote energy efficiency or protect or clean up the environment? These days, working in an environmentally related business can mean a lot of things.
You might be running a janitorial service or a construction cleanup business, where you need to safely handle and dispose of all kinds of waste. Or maybe you're promoting green energy, like solar and wind power and alternative fuels. Or retrofitting buildings for energy efficiency. Or managing an environmentally friendly recycling program. The list of environmentally related business situations is long.
You know your business inside and out. You know your capabilities and what your clients need from you. You're also looking for new clients and more business or an investor for the next revolutionary green product. So are all your competitors; these days all businesses are clamoring for attention. Sending out a form letter or posting an ad in the local yellow pages is not usually the best way to stand out in the crowd. The best way to succeed in growing your client list and landing more jobs is to master writing a business proposal.
Never written a proposal before? Don't sweat it. Basically, all you need to do in a business proposal is 1) introduce yourself, 2) show that you understand your prospective client's needs, 3) highlight your goods and services and present your costs and 4) persuade the client that your organization is right for the job. Using pre-designed templates and samples along with some automation software can help you write your proposal quickly and efficiently.
Writing a business proposal for an environmentally related business is actually pretty straightforward. That's because, no matter what your business is, all proposals follow the basic four-part structure listed in the previous paragraph.
The length of your proposal will vary depending on the size and needs of the client as well as your type of business. The average proposal is five to ten pages long, but a complex proposal could have dozens of pages, and a very short one might include only an introductory Cover Letter, a Work Order, and a Price List. A government RFP response could be 30 pages long or more.
The key to a successful proposal is to tailor it to the party who will receive it. Put yourself in the other party's shoes. If you don't know them well, you may need to do some research about their business and history, but this effort will pay off in creating a customized proposal that is much more likely to succeed than any form letter or price list.
That doesn't mean that you can't reuse a lot of the same pages for multiple proposals; it simply means that you need to target each proposal to the specific client's needs. A proposal is a sales document meant to persuade potential clients to give you their business. To do that, you must instill trust that you can deliver the goods, research or services they need.
So, following the general order described above, you should start your proposal by introducing yourself with a Cover Letter and Title Page. The Cover Letter should be a brief; just explain who you are and include your company contact information. You should print your Cover Letter on your company letterhead. The Title Page is exactly what it sounds like: a page that introduces your proposal and names the specific project you are discussing. Some examples might be "Cleanup Services for the Ryleston Building Construction Project", "Proposal to Construct Wind Turbines in the North Valley", "Proposed Conversion of Corporate Fleet to Alternative Fuels", and so forth.
After the introduction comes the client-centered section. Add topics that show that you understand the needs of your client. Depending on the complexity of the project you are proposing, you may or may not need to start off with a detailed summary (called an Executive Summary for corporate clients, or a Client Summary for a less formal project). In this client-centered section, demonstrate that you understand the prospective client's requirements, needs, and concerns. For example, you might want to include pages that discuss issues generated by the specific project workspace or by the hazardous materials to be handled. This is not yet the place where you talk about your goods or services. The client's concerns come first.
After the client-centered section comes your turn to shine. Add pages that describe how you can provide solutions for the client with your goods or services. You'll add pages with titles like Products, Services Provided, Benefits, Price List, Services Cost Summary, Warranty, Guarantee and so forth - include all topics you need to describe exactly what you will provide and how much it will cost.
Depending on your business or the project you're proposing, you may need specialized topics, such as pages that address specific concerns such as your employees' training in safety or hazardous waste handling, etc. Add pages with details the client will want to know, such as descriptions of your Personnel, Training Plan, Safety Plan, Insurance, Equipment, Security, Quality Control, Certifications, Environmental issues, and so on.
A building retrofitting company may have to deal with many different topics at once, such as selling both services and products as well as servicing multiple locations for a client, along with all the associated equipment and logistical needs.
A recycling company may need to discuss Transportation and Facilities issues as well as Handing input, output, and waste.
Specialized cleaning services such as accident, crime scene, fire, or flood cleanup companies should include topics to discuss hazardous or biological waste handling and environmental protection issues.
A company selling "green" products may want to list materials or describe special features of their products, certifications, discuss how their products compare to competitors, or list special bundling deals or volume discounts.
After you've described what you are proposing to do comes the final section, where you provide your company details. Your goal is to conclude your proposal by convincing your client that you can be trusted to deliver the goods or services you have promised. Here, you'll add pages like Testimonials, References, Awards, About Us / Company History, Capabilities, Qualifications, Our Clients, Customer Service, and so forth - all the topics you need to persuade the client that you have credibility and can be trusted.
There! You've written a proposal. But you're not quite finished. Take a little time to make your proposal visually appealing; remember, you want to stand out from competing proposals. Add color and graphics by incorporating your company logo, using colored borders, and/or selecting custom bullet points and fonts that match your business's style. Learn how to effectively select colors for a winning business proposal.
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Carefully proofread and spell-check all the pages. It's difficult to catch errors in your own work, so it's always a good idea to have someone who is unfamiliar with your proposal do a final proof. Spell check will not catch correctly spelled but misused words.
Save your proposal as a PDF file or print it, and then deliver it to your potential client. Emailing PDF files to clients is very common; however, keep in mind that a printed, signed, and hand-delivered proposal may impress the client more. If the new business is especially valuable to you and your competition is tight, you should put more personal effort into the proposal and delivery.
As you can see, a proposal for an environmentally related business will mean something different to everyone who needs to write one. Each organization's specific proposal pages will be different, and for maximum success, each proposal should be customized for the party receiving it.
The good news is that all proposals follow a similar format and structure, and you don't need to start from scratch - you can find templates for all the pages mentioned in this article in Proposal Pack. The templates include instructions and examples of information that should be included on each page. The product also includes a wide variety of sample proposals, including samples for all sorts of environmentally related businesses. Using the templates and studying these samples will spark your imagination and make it easy to create your own winning business proposal.