Proposal Writing Primer

Periodically,  a Freelance consultant must write a proposal.  Some organizations,  especially government entities,  will publicly announce that a project is available and request bids that must be submitted in proposal form.  Occasionally,  one may receive a direct request for a proposal  (RFP)  from an unknown party.  Experience will eventually teach you to not respond to a surprise RFP.  Invariably,  an unexpected RFP is sent by a phantom client who is either fishing for pricing information,  or seeking to obtain additional proposals when it has already been decided who will be hired for the project in question,  but company policy mandates that a certain number of proposals must be reviewed.

Submit proposals only after you’ve spoken with the decision-maker and received an invitation.  If you’ve set it up right,  the proposal will serve as a confirmation letter that spells out project details that have been previously discussed and agreed-upon.  See my March 26, 2013 post on unsolicited RFPs  https://freelancetheconsultantsdiary.wordpress.com/2013/03/26/the-unexpected-rfp/.

A proper invitation to write a proposal is an opportunity for you to shine.  Showcase yourself,  your brand and your expertise and write a powerful document that reveals your analytic ability,  writing ability,  practicality and creativity.

Study the requirements

If there is a written RFP,  study the requirements and make note of the submission deadline.  Is the project a good fit for your organization?  Do you have time to write a worthy proposal? If you meet with the client to discuss the project,  take good notes and confirm that you understand the goals,  specifications and expectations involved.  Do you have the expertise and resources to do the job?  Can you achieve the goals within the time frame?  Can you do the job within the budget?  Must you subcontract work out and if so,  will you be able to make a profit on the project?

Confirm the desired outcomes

Interview the client and confirm the desired and expected outcomes of the project and assess what achieving the project goals means to the organization.

Evaluate your proposed solution

Make sure that your approach to producing the deliverables will please the client.  What is the primary criterion for the proposal?  Is it speed of completion,  price,  or something else?  Present a methodology that reflects what means most to the client.

Outshine competitors

Be advised that a proposal is a sales document.  Highlight your strengths in the context of project goals and address any potential reservations that might prevent your proposal from being accepted.

Proposal must-haves

Some proposals specify that a certain format must be followed.  If there is no such rule,  include the following elements:

  • Give an overview of the current situation that has given rise to the need for the project.
  • State the goals of the project,  expected outcomes or deliverables.
  • Describe why you and your organization are uniquely qualified to successfully complete the project.
  • Describe your proposed methodology for achieving the aims of the project.
  • Explain the timeline and cost  (the justification of your proposed fee).
  • Describe the benefits associated with achieving the project goals,  outcomes,  or deliverables.

Finally,  make sure that your proposal addresses all elements of the RFP or client needs.   Check your spelling and grammar.  Go on-line and view examples of proposals;  find a format that visually communicates you and your brand and make that your template .  If hard copy must be submitted,   print your document on good paper stock.

Thanks for reading,

Kim

 

 

 

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