Writing a Winning Business Proposal

Business Proposals — To know how to write a winning business proposal, ask your customer (i.e., the party requesting the proposal) what they need to know; learn what informs their decision making. The purpose of business proposal writing is to persuade the customer or prospect to select you. The best way to do this is to answer the customer’s questionsthe business-proposal-writing process is more about the customer than it is about your firm or its fabulous attributes.

Successful proposals speak directly to the customer, and standardized proposal templates won’t help you much in this regard.

To cover all bases in your proposal, answer these six questions for each section/requirement the proposal must address: who, what, where, how, when, and why. Use each to identify and answer the customer’s questions. Examples include …

Who: who’s doing or managing what work, who’s responsible for what, who’s paying for what?

What: what must be accomplished, what are expectations, what are milestones, what risks exist, what is known or unknown, what are elements, what are costs?

Where: where does what activity occur, where are essential components located, where will activity conclude?

How: how will what work be performed, how will transportation be handled, how will the project be managed, how will quality be assured, how much time is required, how are risks identified and handled, how does the customer benefit?

When: when does the project start, when will it be complete, when are payments made?

Why: why are the methods and actions you’ve selected appropriate and effective, why is your company best for the customer, why does the customer win?