Writing a good proposal takes planning and preparation. Your proposal may be your only chance to sell yourself to a prospective client, so spend the time you need to present your history, your analysis of the needs to be met, and your solution in a polished, professional manner.
Depending on the complexity of the project under consideration, proposals may be as short as three pages of simple, straightforward information, or as long as one hundred pages filled with detailed research studies, projected results, and cost summaries. Proposal Pack includes templates for all the standard parts of a proposal.
Whether concise or complex, all proposals must include the following basic information:
Some proposals, such as those submitted in response to a specific Request for Proposals (RFP), may need to meet strict guidelines spelled out by your prospective client.
In many cases, to receive an invitation to submit a proposal, you'll need to send an inquiry letter first. Inquiry letters should be printed on your company's letterhead and should contain:
With the inquiry letter, you may also need to include an executive summary, which summarizes the highlights of your proposal. Your following full proposal will spell out the details.
Use Proposal Pack's Inquiry.doc template for your inquiry letter, and, if needed, the ExecutiveSummary.doc template for your executive summary. (You can read more about the executive summary in the following pages.) Here is a common order of documents in a proposal:
The following is a more detailed step-by-step discussion of how to put your proposal together using the Proposal Pack templates. Proposal Pack includes a very large collection of templates to cover most of your needs. Your proposal could be 1 page long to hundreds of pages long depending on many factors. The average business proposal is 10 to 15 pages long. Use your best judgment to determine which templates are suitable for your specific proposal. Start with a Cover Letter, Executive Summary and Cost Summary then continue adding pages as they relate to your client, project and proposal.
Introduce yourself and your purpose. Like any good business letter, cover letters are typically printed on company letterhead. Use the CoverLetter.doc template for your cover letter.
Present the highlights of your proposal and how it will benefit this prospective client, then concisely state your qualifications for accomplishing this project. The executive summary is frequently the most often read section of a proposal: take the time to hone it to professional perfection. Use the ExecutiveSummary.doc template for your executive summary.
Sum up the costs for your proposal. If you're considering a complex project, list only broad categories here; save the details for later in the financial section. Use the CostSummary.doc template for your cost summary.
Explain the problem or need you propose to address and then detail how you performed your analysis and reached your proposed solution. You may want to include statements about business opportunities, comparisons with competitors or a general discussion of the industry, or discussions of marketing or operations issues. Choose from the Opportunities.doc, Competitive.doc, Industry.doc, Background.doc, Operations.doc and Market.doc templates as needed for this section.
This section describes the results you plan to accomplish, and provides explanations of how your success will be measured. For example, you may want to discuss how a process will be streamlined, how sales will increase, or how customers will be more satisfied. Use the Results.doc, Statement.doc, Benefits.doc, Features.doc, Samples.doc, Deliverables.doc, and Services.doc templates as needed to flesh out the goals and objectives section of your proposal.
Here is where you get down to all the details. Describe the process you will use to carry out your proposal, making sure to address all parts of your plan. Include discussions of personnel and equipment needed, the project schedule and milestones, the constraints and assumptions you're working with, and any other information your client needs to understand precisely what you propose to do. Use the Technical.doc, Schedule.doc, Management.doc, MarketingPlan.doc, TestingPlan.doc, Integration.doc, InstallSchedule.doc, Training.doc, MaintenancePlan.doc, Legal.doc, Risk.doc, Assumptions.doc, Storyboard.doc, Constraints.doc and Contingency.doc templates as needed for the methodology section.
Explain how the success of your solution will be concretely measured, by whom, and when these tests will be performed. For a complex project, you may need to include milestones along the way. Use the Requirements.doc, Documentation.doc, Interface.doc and Accept.doc templates as needed to cover the evaluation sections of the proposal.
In the previous Cost Summary, you listed the total cost of your proposal, and perhaps the major cost categories as well. In this section, present the details that demonstrate how you arrived at your total cost. Be sure to include all items the prospective client will pay for, as well as any discussion needed to show how you arrived at the budget figures listed. Use the CostBenefit.doc, SuppliedMaterial.doc, Equipment.doc, HardSoft.doc, Payment.doc, Contract.doc, WorkOrder.doc, WorkOrder2.doc templates as needed to cover the financial section of the proposal.
Here's your final chance to sell your proposal again. Concisely describe the problem to be tackled, and then sum up the highlights of your proposed solution, and how your proposal will meet the client's needs. Use the Summary.doc and Recommend.doc templates for your project summary.
What makes you qualified to take on this project? Describe your history, other similar and successful projects, and other clients as needed to show that you are the perfect choice to get the job done. Proposal Pack includes many templates for your qualifications, including but not limited to: MissionStatement.doc, Qualifications.doc, QualityControl.doc, CaseStudy.doc, CompanyHistory.doc, Products.doc, Future.doc, ExecBio.doc, Testimonial.doc, References.doc, Portfolio.doc, Resume.doc.
Attach any details you need to complete your proposal. These might include legal papers for your company, lists of personnel, financial statements, testimonials, charts, blueprints - anything you require to provide all the information your client needs to make a decision. There are many templates to use for your appendices, including but not limited to: Illustrations.doc, Acronyms.doc, Benchmark.doc, RefMaterial.doc, Financial.doc, CrossRef.doc, Disclaimers.doc and Warranty.doc.How to Select Templates: The Top 5 / Top 40 Rule
There are thousands of proposal templates to choose from. Because any type of proposal for any industry, any business situation, and any size of proposal can be written with a Proposal Pack, we need a large collection of templates to cover everyone.
The trick is then to figure out what small set of templates are best suited for your situation and efficiently find them.
Technically, using Proposal Pack is very simple. It is nothing more than opening some documents and typing in your word processor. The hard part is wrapping your head around the large amount of material and deciding what parts to use.
A very short proposal may be 1-3 pages long for a short form quote or bid, an average size proposal may be 10-15 pages long, a government grant could be 30-80 pages long.
Start by looking at the large collection of Sample Proposals. There are many samples which you can use to get ideas from. Sample Proposals will show you how other people selected templates, assembled them together in a specific order and filled them out. They will give you ideas on what templates you might want to select. Samples Proposals are the PDF documents included with the large collection of editable templates.
Then consider using these Top 5 most commonly used templates first:
Then consider templates from the Top 40 most commonly used list:
Finally, start looking through the rest of the entire collection of thousands of templates to find specialty templates that will fit your situation. You can find the entire list in the WHAT IS INCLUDED? chapter and in the Proposal Pack desktop HTML organizer.
You can search for specific templates by name using the search feature of this PDF manual, by using the search feature of your web browser when you are viewing the complete list of templates in the Desktop organizer, or by using your operating system Search feature to search for text across all of the templates installed on your hard drive.Why You Didn't Get the Job
Writing a winning proposal is much more than just filling out documents and putting it in front of a prospect. There are many reasons why companies do not make the final cut. Learn from each proposal and adjust as needed. If possible, interview the prospect to find out why your company was not chosen. Just keep in mind you may not actually hear the true reason.
Failure to land the job may be for some of the following reasons: