Answer these 5 questions to write a winning proposal

Simon Islam
Simon Islam

What if there was a way to increase your chances of winning more proposals? By simply taking the time to answer these 5 questions, you can write proposals that are more likely to be accepted.

All proposals are signed by a person who has made the decision who to hire. If you want to write a winning proposal, you need to start by understanding your potential customer: what motivates them and what will solve their problem.

Once you have a good understanding of your customer, you need to craft a proposal that is tailored to them. It should address their specific needs and pain points, and show them how you can solve them.

This might sound complicated, but let’s break it down. To help you write a winning proposal, we’ve put together a list of 5 questions that you need to answer:

Question 1: What is the problem the buyer is experiencing?

Depending on your product or service you may prefer to phrase this question as, “What are the buyer’s goals?” 

This is the most crucial question on the list. It serves as the scaffolding upon which your entire proposal is built. If you don’t have a clear understanding of the problem you are solving, your planning and research will be in vain. Even if you were to win the bid, it is very likely that the project would experience friction and a negative outcome.

So, how can you determine the goals and desires of the buyer? The most effective way is to simply have a conversation with them. We encourage scheduling a Discovery Session prior to creating a proposal whenever possible. The purpose of this meeting (or series of meetings) is to gather essential project information so you will come away with a complete and detailed understanding of the project scope and desired outcomes, making it possible to confidently scope out and price the project. When a full Discovery Session is not possible, take any opportunity to chat with your prospect and ask as many questions as possible. Any additional information and insights gathered will be invaluable.

In this conversation, be sure to ask a LOT of questions. Focus your inquiries on outcomes and results rather than tactics, tools, or specific steps to take. It is the buyer’s job to specify the destination; it’s your job to map out the steps required to get there.

If you are responding to a Request For Proposal (RFP), this type of conversation may not be an option. In the case of an RFP, read and re-read the project brief. If you are given an opportunity to ask a round of questions, take it! Squeeze any further information out of the buyer and try to get a sense of their desires in addition to the specific goals for the project.

Question 2: What is your proposed solution?

We are only on Question 2, but we are going to skip right to the end! This is where you will share all of the amazing things you will accomplish by the end of this project.

When you’re writing a Project Overview for a proposal, keep in mind that your goal is to focus on outcomes and end results, not the steps taken to get there. List out what you will accomplish, how this heals their pain point, what the outcome looks like, how their business will benefit, and how this will make them feel.

Keep your language strong and confident, and make sure to emphasize why the reader should care about the project. Remember, you’re trying to sell them on the idea, so make it as compelling as possible!

Question 3: What are the steps you will take to achieve this outcome?

This question might seem to overlap with Question 2, but there is a fundamental difference. Question 2 focuses on the end result, while Question 3 details the steps taken to get there. This is not the Project Overview, but the Project Scope. Every proposal you send to a prospect needs to have a clear scope of work. This is what tells the prospect exactly what you’ll be doing for them and how it will serve their goals. But how do you go about writing a project scope?

Fortunately, it’s not as difficult as you might think. First, start by outlining the main deliverables of the project. These are the key components that the client will receive from you. Then, break down each deliverable into smaller tasks that need to be completed. Finally, add in any additional details that will help the client understand exactly what they’re getting from you.

By taking the time to write a clear and

Question 4: Why is your company the best choice for providing a solution?

If you’re bidding on a project or trying to land a new client, how do you convince the buyer that you are the right one for the job? Plain and simple: you just have to tell them!

This section of your proposal should highlight your company’s qualifications, including years of experience, key team members, and similar projects you’ve worked on. You can include case studies of past successes, and if you have any relevant training or certification, be sure to include that information as well. Finally, don’t forget to share your passion for the work – clients want to know that you’re excited about the project and confident in your ability to deliver results.

You don’t want to come across as arrogant or cocky, but be sure to write this section with confidence and pride. This can be difficult or even awkward for some of us. Here’s a tip: Try to imagine you are explaining to your mom why you are the best candidate for the project. Moms always love to hear about our achievements and it doesn’t feel as cringey to toot our own horn when talking to our number one fan. Channel that self-confidence and start singing your own praises!

The good news about the “Toot Your Own Horn” section, is that much of this content can be reused on future projects. You should customize it as much as possible to showcase your skills that specifically relate to the project at hand, but chances are, you will go after similar types of work, making reusable bits of content a huge time saver.

Did you know that Proposa has a “smart templating system” that allows you to easily use and reuse content from your own library? Talk about a time saver!

Question 5: How much time and money will be required to implement your solution?

How much will it cost? This is the first question on the mind of everyone opening up a proposal.

Your proposal should include a detailed project budget that outlines all of the costs associated with your proposed solution. This includes both direct and indirect costs, such as materials, labor, overhead, etc.

An accurate project budget is essential for two reasons: first, it ensures that you are paid fairly for the work you do; and second, it builds trust with the buyer by showing them that you have considered all aspects of the project and are transparent about its costs.

To develop an accurate project budget, start by itemizing all of the tasks required to complete the project and estimating how much time each task will take. Then, determine the hourly rate for each team member involved in the project and calculate the total cost of labor. Next, add in any other direct costs associated with completing the project, such as materials or equipment rental. Finally, allocate a percentage of indirect costs (e.g., overhead) to cover things like office space rent or utilities. Once you have all of these numbers compiled, you can begin to put together your project budget.

Be clear and unapologetic about your price. If you act like it’s too high, the prospect will feel the same way.

The second burning question on the mind of everyone reviewing a proposal is: When will it be done? Answering this question gives an excellent opportunity to manage expectations of the buyer right from the outset. Just because they want something “yesterday,” doesn’t mean that’s possible.

By having a firm understanding of when you can start working on a project, the turnaround time (this is different than the number of hours required – you have to sleep and eat sometime!), and the target completion date, you can avoid potential conflicts down the road and ensure that everyone is on the same page from day one.

Conclusion

By taking the time to answer these 5 questions, you can drastically increase the odds of writing a winning proposal.

Once you have the answers, you can quickly and easily create a gorgeous proposal with Proposa that your prospects will find irresistible. Start creating winning proposals for free today!