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How to Write a Proposal that Wins

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Winning proposals are structured, organized, easy to follow, and custom tailored. Proposal Kit creates custom tailored documents with these best practices built in. See how to create successful sales proposals and project pitches with Proposal Kit.

Read this related article: How to Write a Business Proposal That Wins

Here are some related templates:

In this video we're going to show you how to write a winning proposal from the perspective of using Proposal Kit to help you generate your document. There are scores of resources such as other videos and books dedicated to showing people how to write winning proposals. Much of what you learn elsewhere you can apply to creating your proposals using Proposal Kit. There are many factors involved in winning proposals some are under your control and others are not.

We'll focus on one thing under your control, the proposal to be delivered and how to assemble that proposal document. Ultimately you're trying to convince someone else to do something for you and that person, or multiple people, needs to trust that you will deliver. The proposal is just one tool that will help you gain that trust. That could be that the product or service you are selling will solve their problem or they will trust that your business will be as successful as you claim which will make their investment pay off for them.

Notice here that the focus is always on the other party that you are pitching your proposal to. So first off we will show you some of our Proposal Packs and how just select one. If you look at our Proposal Packs we have many design themes. So the first thing to do is just decide on the visual design.

If you want to brand the documents to the visual look of your own company we have our Proposal Pack For any Business which starts out plain and it is brandable so you can add your own logo, your own font types, your own graphics and colors, and so on to match your own logo. Otherwise if you want your proposal documents to have some pre–made graphics, color schemes, typography already there for you we have hundreds of design themes. You can just scroll down through all of our designs. We have many general purpose designs and many industry specific designs.

Say if you are an interior decorator you just scroll down any of the actual Proposal Pack pages, you'll see full size of blow–ups of what the actual documents will look like once they're installed and they are in use. So the first thing to do is you select a Proposal Pack design theme, purchase it, download it. In the Wizard software once it's on your computer you're ready to start. The first thing to do is do some research and preparation.

Research who are you're submitting the proposal to, the competition, your own internal company information. Gather the material you think you're going to need for your proposal. Next you want to decide on what goes into the proposal, how long it should be, do you have instructions you are following from an RFP. A proposal could be three pages long, it could be 20 pages, it could be a hundred pages.

Most proposals are in the five to ten page range. Now this can be the most complicated part of assembling your proposal is just deciding all the things that you need to put in there. This is one place where the Proposal Kit really helps. Now the Proposal Kit will include thousands of templates to pick from, hundreds of pre–made layouts for all different kinds of businesses, all different kinds of proposal writing situations.

So if you need assistance installing, setting up the Proposal Pack there are other videos that will cover that. This video assumes you've already got everything installed and set up. Now how we assemble a proposal document in the Proposal Pack Wizard is we'll create a document project. Each time we're going to create a proposal, business plan or a document using the software you'll go through this step.

Add a new project. I'll give it a project name you know 'My Project #2' you know sometimes this will be your clients name. This is just for your own information. So the first thing we'll do in a project is we'll click this Pick Documents button.

Now this will get us to the thousands of templates and the hundreds of layouts. Now you'll see it's showing us some common templates. These are 40 out of over the 2,000 that are available. So you'll see very common ones that you'll use most of the time like the Cover Letter, Title Page, Table of Contents, Executive Summary and so on.

If you click over on the Quick Start tab there are hundreds of pre–made layouts that we have gathered over the last twenty years for all sorts of different kinds of businesses and you can also search through these hundreds of lists using the search button. Let's say we're just going to do a general product or service sales proposal. We need to scroll down the list and we'll pick the long product sales proposal. The wizard will also tell us what list of chapters will be loaded into our project for anything that we select here.

This particular one will load 15 templates with a Cover Letter, Title Page, Table of Contents, a Products page and so on. Say if we're doing a short quote that might only give us a 5 page template. Say we're applying for a grant, this will load a 30 page template. Now these lists can be completely customized.

You can add additional chapters, you can remove chapters to tailor the list of chapters that will go into the document exactly to your situation. So let's say in this example this is 30 templates out of the over 2,000 available. You'll see for this grant it'll have funding type pages, pages to talk about the project, the needs assessment, letters of support and so on. Usually for a grant you'll be picking templates based on instructions in an RFP and you'll match those to the thousands of templates we have available.

Or say we're just selling a service. So a very short services template would just be a Cost Summary and a list of Services and a Contract page. Many of these templates are more specific to certain types of business situations so they'll be very specialized. Everything from accounting services to computer software, security services and so on.

Or if you need project proposals many these are project related. Say you want to pick a project management consulting services proposal. This will give a slightly different set of chapters so whenever you've selected a set of chapters let's say we're going to do a marketing campaign services proposal, a long one. We will just import that list that we finally decide on as our starting list and you'll see the list of chapters selected.

Now in general a proposal can be laid out in order with introduction chapters first. These will be things like your Cover Letter, Title Page and introduction pages. Then you'll follow with the client pages. Now this is usually going to be the pages that make up the body of the project material if you're pitching a project.

It'll be the business plan material if you're pitching a business plan to be funded or looking for funding. It'll be the project or service pitch material after the client pages then you'll talk about say the specific project information or detail pages. After all that then you'll put your own company pages. This might be things like your About Us, Company History, your staff information, your Qualifications, Certifications, Referrals and so on.

After that comes the appendices. That might be technical details and so on. That'll be the general flow for pretty much any kind of proposal. Now that we have a list of chapter selected we can alter that list at any time.

Any time you want to see the list of chapters selected for your project just click this View button and you can remove pages by selecting them then click the Remove button. Let's say we want to add some pages back. Now this was a marketing campaign layout so maybe we want to go look at some of the chapters that are more marketing related. So let's say let's add a Growth Area page.

Let's add a Publicity page and so on. You can just scroll through these different lists of chapters specific to that situation. There are hundreds of categories here. If you're doing IT related projects you'll find IT related chapters, real estate, construction, medical, security.

Pretty much everything or you can break it down by specific types of proposals. You have categories here for service proposals, products, projects, business plans, nonprofits and so on. Or if you want to get chapters specific to talking about things about your own company like your Capabilities, your Portfolio, your Officers and Board and so on. So once you've selected all the chapters using these different tabs we're ready to actually build the proposal document.

Now you also have a couple other screens here Company Data and Client Data. This is for filling in name and address contact information that will get merged into your document. And we will save the project and now that will build our word document. So just sit back and wait for it to build the document.

Okay, now that the Wizard is completed generating the document it will open it up in Word for you to finish editing. So I see it started with the Cover Letter. It merged in the current date and our name and address information has added the Title Page, merged in our name and address information, created a Table of Contents with page numbering, merged in our website address and inserted all those selected chapters that we checked off for our project, the Client Summary, Campaign, Services page and ends with a nice Back Page. So you see this is how the Wizard and our Proposal Packs can quickly assemble in a matter of minutes a complete Word document all structured and laid out ready for you to just start filling in your actual information into the pages.

It has all the structural material in there for separating the headers and footers, adding the Title Page, Cover Page, Table of Contents, page numbering and so on and custom bullet point graphics. Now we're using one of our hundreds of design themes here. This is our Marketing #1 design theme. You can recreate the same exact template in hundreds of different designs including branded to your own logo and color scheme.

So one of the ways Proposal Kit helps you create a winning proposal it will create a Word document for you that is structured, organized and easy to follow. Now say we're doing a proposal for a different kind of business. Now we've loaded our Wizard here with a couple different design themes. That last one is using our Marketing #1 design theme.

Now whichever packages you purchased and installed will be available here. Most people will use one style. If you're using our Pro Kit bundle you may have up to say five styles. Let's say we're doing a proposal for a security company and we've loaded our Security #8 design theme.

And just like before we'll click the Document Projects button, Add a New Project and in this case we're going to show you how to create a proposal from a premade example. Now last time we used our Quick Start tab and you can find security proposal layouts here as well. Scroll down to the S's and there are quite a few security layouts. But in this case we're going to use a completed example proposal.

Now there are a couple hundred example proposals. This same set of samples is included in every single Proposal Pack and these are completed proposals where somebody else in the past has used a specific Proposal Pack design theme, gone through this process of selecting some chapters, creating a document, and then filling in that document with their actual information and completing a proposal. And those final examples are in the Wizard. This is a good way for you to get writing ideas, maybe break out of a writer's block or get started a little faster if we happen to have a sample that's close enough to your actual situation.

You can just use the sample as your starting point. So we're going to pick the Security Guard Services Sample and we're going to click the Import Content from Selected Sample. button. Now if we want to actually look at the PDF sample we can click this, and this will just open up a non editable PDF and we could scroll down it.

You'll see this actually has a different design theme. This is one of our Flag designs that this company used. You can see their Table of Contents. Now the sample, since it's a completed version of somebody else's and rendered, is not editable but our Wizard software has the capability of building you an editable version of this sample with the sample content, but in the design theme that you chose.

I'll show you how that is done. So now that we've selected this particular sample we'll click the Import Content from Selected Sample button. Now that loaded our project with a list of 14 chapters just like that Quick Start tab earlier we showed you loaded your project with lists of chapters. Now this is the same exact set of chapters that the person who wrote the sample you saw started with and we're going to use the same set of chapters.

Now you do have the ability of altering this list of chapters if you want to drop out some pages or add new pages. If you add new pages from the library it will be the general–purpose chapters. It won't be filled in content since that person obviously didn't use new chapters that you added yourself. So we'll just stick with the exact list of chapters.

We'll say okay we want to use this set of fourteen chapters. And now we'll do the same process of building the document. Okay, now that we've built our new document we'll open it up. You also see that the content of this Cover Letter was actually the content of the sample itself but the sample content has also been modified to include tags in it so the sample content will be tagged more specifically to your company.

And you'll see it has a different design theme instead of that Flag design from the rendered sample. It's using the Security #8 design and you'll see its using the actual sample content that was pulled into this design theme in this generated document. This is another way you can quickly get proposals generated ready for editing all laid out, nice design theme, within minutes. I'll show one last example here.

We've loaded a third design theme called our Aqua #5. In this case we're going to do a request for funding type proposal. So we're going to match this Aqua design theme to a layout we have in here for a more specific funding proposal for a clean water project in another country. Now you can see this is a pretty substantial project and funding proposal using 35 templates.

So you see here where we're really covering a lot of major topics for a more comprehensive proposal. We have our introduction material talking about the needs, the goals, summarizing everything up at the top. Putting in a lot of project detail pages that are more specific to say a clean water project where you may be talking about the health and wellness of the community, the natural resources, available infrastructure, issues and so on. This is where you'll find a lot of uses for the thousands of chapter templates available in a Proposal Pack is you can really get detailed lists of project pages quickly in our Wizard for very specialized situations.

For a grant proposal you might have a lot more financial funding related pages. This is where you'll summarize the project at the end, a call to action, with say recommendations, putting your company information at the bottom, mission statements are popular for funding or nonprofit type proposals and so on. So we will give this project a specific name. Now this funding proposal has been generated and you'll see the name and address stuff has been inserted.

We scroll down now you'll see it's in our Aqua #5 design theme. The title we gave it in the Client Data screen has been inserted here, Table of Contents, covers all the major chapters. All those topics that were inserted. And this document is now ready to just start editing in Word to fill in all of the actual information.

For grants you'll have more funding pages, cost/benefits. Now all of these financial tables can be linked to Excel spreadsheets so the calculations can be done in Excel but the nice formatting will be in the Word document. And you don't have to supply the Excel spreadsheets along with the proposal. Now normally you're not going to submit your proposal as a Word document.

Generally you want to use PDF format because you do not know what software or settings another person on another computer will be using to view the document. PDF documents are going to be viewable pretty much on any platform in the layout and formatting that you intended them to see it in. So say someone finished their proposal, you can do a Save as PDF. PDF formats are supported on pretty much every word processor nowadays.

You don't have to have Adobe Acrobat installed separately. So we've saved our PDF version. This is the one that you can send to a client. Either upload to their system or send as an email, or print and deliver.

So it's completely up to you. Everything is under your control how you manage the document and what you do with it after it's been generated in our software. Another important thing for winning proposals is to be active, to be proactive, to follow up. You don't want to just submit a document and then sit back and do nothing.

The document itself isn't going to win a proposal for you. It's all going to be about you and how active you are and how much the other party basically trusts that you will deliver. And that is how Proposal Kit can help you create a winning proposal.

Proposal KitPublished by Proposal Kit, Inc.