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Business Proposals

A business proposal is a unsolicited or solicited bid to win a contract from another business or a government.

There are two types of business proposal that can help you gain more business to grow your company.

  1. Solicited Business Proposal: A corporation or government body is seeking a business to fulfill a project or complete a task and thereby, allows companies to bid for the project. An open bid is placed on the market with other companies competing for an interview spot. The winning candidate is offered the project.
  2. Unsolicited Business Proposal: At some point, your small business may want to do business with a larger company or forge a joint venture. A well-written business proposal can win the hearts and minds of your target audience.

If you need to write a business proposal to win a bid, you will need to know the key winning elements of a successful proposal. Make sure your proposal stands out in the stack of competitor proposals by including the following elements:

Solutions: After you have written a lead paragraph on the company's needs and problems, follow up with a solid presentation of how your business can provide solutions. The key here is to promise solutions you can deliver.

Benefits: All winning business proposals, clearly outline for the company the benefits to be gained from doing business with you. If your small business can offer complete confidentiality and meet tight deadlines state it in your benefits section.

Credibility: This is often the overlooked portion of a business proposal but all winning proposals glow with credibility. If you have worked with clients in the same field or have an award-winning business, then third-party endorsements will build credibility.

Samples: A business proposal with samples and evidence of your ability to deliver is vital to gaining the winning bid. A small sample of your work can show your ability to do the job.

Targeted: A winning business proposal is all about communication. Speak in a language spoken by your intended audience. If the proposal evaluators are from an engineering background or financial department then use the appropriate jargon.

Ultimately, the best business proposal is none. When your company is well-positioned and unique in the marketplace then it is only you who can meet the needs of the company requesting the bids.

In the end, you may not win all bids, but will win business that best matches your company to the prospective business. A win-win for all parties involved.

The most important point of a business proposal is it is there to generate your business more work. Remember though it is easy to get more work, anyone can sell more products and services at low prices - you have to make sure you are doing it cost effectively and that you are capable of doing the work in the first place. It's possible to take on work for a loss or break even in the short term - but only if you can guarantee to generate more work which pays in the future. This might be from the same business or your work maybe a showcase - in other words doing the job may put your work in the spotlight of new customers that can make you future profits.

If this business proposal is important to your company then you need to take your time over it and avoid using a simple template.

Before putting pen to paper you need to have a good chat with your potential clients and really focus on their core issues. Another aspect in the proposal are personalities - if you rub someone up the wrong way then the content of your business proposal will be completely irrelevant.

The client tends to know his or her business better than most people and they'll be happy to talk about it - you should let them - they are proud of their business - one of the worst things you can do at this point is start saying, "this is wrong, and that is wrong - you need to change this, this and this - and oh my god what are you doing here!" If you do that you'll likely lose the contract. People on the whole don't like to be criticised - you have to do it in a constructive way which doesn't put the client in a bad light.

Before going into a business - you need to put down a few questions which will open up the owners - avoid questions with just a yes or no answer.

A list of questions might be:

  • What is the current challenge your business is facing?
  • What is the greatest challenge your industry is facing?
  • When did you first determine this business problem existed?
  • What have you done in the past to address this issue and what was the outcome?
  • What is the best outcome you wish to achieve with this project?
  • What current information does your company have to solve this problem?
  • Is your company looking for recommendations or also help in the implementation of those recommendations?
  • When do you want this project completed?
  • To implement our recommendations, what obstacles will be necessary to overcome?
  • Do you have a set budget for this project?

Formulating a list of potential questions to ask prior to the meeting will help save any misunderstanding and create the foundation for a successful business partnership. Before you go in there you need to make sure you are talking to the decision maker - don't waste your time explaining how great your company is to the cleaner.

Whilst with the client don't be afraid to point certain personal things out - they might have a photograph on the wall that can get them to talk about themselves and open up to you, maybe they have a picture of themselves catching a huge fish, a picture with a famous sports star - if you can talk confidently about a hobby of theirs - you can win them over. Of course you can get into trouble talking about a subject you know nothing about if you pretend to be a great expert on it.

Once you have engaged the client and extracted the necessary information, you now can write a business proposal that has much greater odds in closing the deal.

Make sure that when you write your proposal to focus on answering all the questions put to you - make sure the client doesn't feel foolish if they don't understand certain aspects of your proposal - try to avoid technical language that the client might not understand. To assist you further we have provided over 6000 business proposals.

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