Successful bids take a bit of work to create, but not everyone knows how to write one.
So, how do you write a proposal letter that grabs attention?
If this is your first time writing a proposal letter, here are the things you need to remember:
VP of Marketing and Admin, Go-Forth Pest Control
When I write a bid proposal, I ask myself. If I was reviewing aka skimming a stack of bids, what would make one stand out over another?
- Anything unique about one company over another
I certainly acknowledge that I wouldn’t read every word on every bid. So, I structure my bid proposals as follows:
- Introduction. This is to thank them for the opportunity (they won’t read this but I think it is professional and polite).
- A list of bulleted reasons why the company is their best choice. The “headline” of each point is bolded, and then I have a short explanation of that point beneath the bullet headline (in case they want more info – mostly they will just read the bullets). (examples would be location, size, technological tools, communication methods, years in business, experience with similar projects)
- Prices. I make sure to set this as bolded.
- A brief statement listing of any credentials. These credentials are standard in the industry (licensing, certification, insurance, etc) but required by the bid (they assume these are the case but it is good to state them so they know they aren’t wasting their time with an unqualified company)
- A closing with contact info. Again, thanking for the opportunity (again won’t read but need to have for follow up). Make sure that the easy-to-digest, to the point in bid proposals demonstrates how easy it is to work with your team. Be efficient, don’t waste their time, and don’t use flowery language to qualify why you are their best choice – just straight facts.
Business Consultant | CMO, Maple Holistics
Human interaction prior to a bid proposal letter is vital before writing a formal proposal letter
Before reading the letter, the decision-making individuals should have heard about your idea from you in a personal setting so they are familiar with it and see that you are enthusiastic about it. After the initial personal interaction with the decision-makers, they may ask you to write a bid proposal letter.
The introduction should be very eye-catching
Within the first five minutes of reading the bid proposal letter, they will make a decision about your proposal. It is important to make a big impression in the beginning. Demonstrate a problem or issue, your projects vision for solving the issue, plan to solve the issue, and finally how the cost of fixing the issue will be worth the expenses paid to your project.
The biggest mistake people make writing a proposal is making it about themselves instead of the buyer. A proposal is a story, not a brochure. The hero of the story is the buyer. The buyer is Luke and you are Obi-Wan. And don’t forget that a compelling story needs a great villain– a reason for the hero to take action now.
Start your proposal from the perspective of the buyer
What problem do they face? Why is it important? And urgent? Why have their previous attempts to solve this problem failed? And what makes you the right one to provide the solution? Then the rest of the proposal, describing the solution, the investment, and the terms, flows from that beginning.
You can check your work by highlighting your proposal, with green for words about the buyer, red for words about you, and yellow for things that really don’t belong in there at all.
Marketing Designer, Codal
We complete many proposals per week and have tailored our proposed approach based on client feedback and projects we’ve won. Here are some tips we have for what going into a successful sales proposal:
Always begin a proposal with the project goals
There is a purpose behind every project and your sales proposal should reflect the prospects goals, wants, and requirements. Focus on these project objectives, and show how your company’s process can meet their goals; this should be specific towards the client, and shouldn’t be “boilerplate,” templated content.
Break up your proposal with imagery and project examples
Showing prospects your service or product in a visual manner, rather than straight text. It can be difficult to digest a 50-page proposal that you send to a prospective client, so I believe that imagery and visuals are crucial.
Lastly, schedule a time to walk through your proposal with a prospective client, do not just send it in an email
On a proposal walkthrough, it’s easier to gather some of their feedback immediately and get their questions answered right away, instead of going back and forth through email.