When running a small business, one thing you will definitely need to push sales further and get to the level of success you desire is a winning business proposal.
Not to be confused with a business plan – which is used to map out how to run your company and raise capital – a business proposal is used to solicit business and increase profits and/or sales. Whether you’re bidding for a solicited or unsolicited opportunity, you will need to compose a well thought out and clearly communicated proposal to ensure that your company is the one that nabs the job/sale.
Here are some keys to preparing a winning business proposal to earn more sales:
- Research: You’ll want to research everything from your audience to the basic elements of your proposal. If you have a friend with a successful business, see if he/she will let you take a look at one that worked, or at least let you pick his/her brain about what led to success and/or what flopped. After taking a look at existing proposals, it’s time to research your audience. Make sure that what you’re offering is relevant, and be sure that you address these points throughout. Anything you can do to point out that you’ve done your research and know what you’re talking about is a plus. Even if the audience isn’t ideal for your product/services, a winning proposal could still get you in the door.
- Outline: It’d be great if we could all just sit down and start writing and create brilliance, but for many this process doesn’t come naturally. Organize your thoughts by writing a clear and concise outline of what you’d like to accomplish. Then, when it’s time to fill in the blanks with details, it will be a cinch.
- Grab Attention: From the start, you’ll need to make sure you’ve captured your reader’s attention. Create a solid intro that sums up what you will be addressing to ensure that your reader doesn’t put your proposal down before getting past the first paragraph.
- Stay Focused: After you’ve gotten their attention, make sure to keep it. Be clear and concise so that you don’t lose your audience. Get your point across and then get moving. You should go into some depth, but make sure you do not steer off into a tangent; do not stray from the original point of your proposal.
- Toot Your Own Horn: There is nothing wrong with letting people know why you are better than your competitors. The point is to win business, and that won’t happen if you’re too humble to express why you’re the best candidate for the job.
- Provide Examples: If you can provide specific examples of why your product or service is a must-have for your audience, then they will be more apt to sit up and pay attention. If you don’t have examples that match specifically, try to think of some that are relevant enough for your cause.
- Proofread, proofread and then have someone else proofread: Nothing is worse than a business proposal riddled with errors, as it will make you seem unprofessional and amateurish. Make sure that your ideas and concepts are properly communicated with pitch-perfect grammar and spelling. You should not be the only one to see the proposal before it leaves your hands. Even if you are a pro with the English language, it is always beneficial to have a second pair of eyes on the case to find those small mistakes.