CHAPTER I: WHERE TO BEGIN PROPOSAL WRITING
CONTENTS • Definitions of a proposal • Purposes of proposal writing • Types of proposals • Three key questions • Creating your business plan • Developing your marketing strategy • Locating new business • Locating New Business • Which jobs to target • Characteristics of a winning proposal
Definitions of a proposal • A sophisticated sales piece that seeks to define a client’s problem and/or opportunities and to sell the client on your company’s ability to provide solutions and strategies. (Hamper R. 1995) • A detailed plan of action that a writer submits to a reader or group of readers for approval. The readers are usually in a position of authority—supervisors, managers, department heads, company buyers, elected officials, civic leaders—to endorse or reject the writer’s plan. (Kolin P. 2001)
Purposes of proposal writing • To your boss seeking authorization to purchase a new piece of equipment for the office • To potential customers offering a product or a service • To a government agency seeking funds to conduct research projects • To foundations to raise funds for a non profit organization (Kolin P. 2001)
TYPES OF PROPOSALS • Internal proposals • Solicited proposals • Unsolicited proposals • Sole-source contracts
Internal proposals • Written within a company by a particular division, department, group or individual to persuade top management to support an idea or project • Pros: • proposal writer know the firm’s needs and the management structure • communication may be easier • decision may be quick • Cons: • competition within limited resources • It could fail and the project could be canceled which might discourage the staff who have worked hard for it
Solicited proposals • To be submitted when a company is formally invited to submit a proposal • Request for a proposal • Request for quotation • Bid invitation • Pros • Client is requesting proposal • Firm can select which RFPs to answer based on resources, expertise, previous experience and time/cost calculations • Cons • Waste of resources in case of flawed decision making process (research, writing, and presenting the proposal with little chance of obtaining the project
Unsolicited proposals • Require considerable time to develop with no guarantee that a client will be interested in the product or service offered • Clients do not call for any proposals; thus, the company must compete with a client’s internal operations and other businesses for the client’s attention and acceptance • Pros: • Firms can introduce itself to a wide range of companies; the same proposal can be sent to many firms, thus conserving company resources • Cons: • Sometimes the firms might not be able to handle two many businesses
Sole-source contracts • Only one company contracts with the client to supply a product or service • It happens when the company establishes outstanding record of reliability and performance • It is done to compete for a job but simply to comply with regulations • Pros: • The firm which is contracted to do the work knows when the work will be coming in and the specifications • No resources are required to win the contract • Cons: • Other firms have only little or no chance to win the contract
THREE KEY QUESTIONS • Creating your business plan • Developing your marketing strategy • Locating new business
Creating your business plan • Defines who the company is • What it does • How it should position itself in the marketplace to capture the largest market share possible • How it will earn a reasonable profit • Includes a mission statement that spells out in a brief statement what business the compnay is in and what its main objectives are in terms of product or service line and return on investment
Developing your marketing strategy • Should support the objectives of the business plan and help the company achieve its goals and increase its profitability • Help you to maximize your strengths and minimize your weaknesses-narrow the filed of potential clients to those you can serve exceptionally well, thus cultivating a reputation as a problem-solving firm.
Developing your marketing strategy (con’t) • Shift from selling products or services to selling service to clients, a subtle but powerful shift in philosophy. You research your clients’ needs or problems that you are uniquely qualified to help them solve. No one else can do well as well as you.
Developing your marketing strategy (con’t) • Helps take longer view of business cycles and develop contingency plans for anticipating and responding to change • Helps spot the opportunities that change brings and to adapt quickly, imaginatively, and effectively to new circumstances
Business plan and marketing strategies (Advantages) • Identify goals and objectives • Define strengths and weaknesses • Identify market niches in which your firm has an advantage over the competition • Identify potential clients within those nices and how you can help solve those clients’ problems • Establish contingency plans to anticipate and adapt to a rapidly changing marketplace
LOCATING NEW BUSINESS • Once your firm has a clear understanding of its target market, the next step is obtaining business whether from previous clients or new clients • Your best approach is to visit the reference section of your local public library and government printing office to obtain the latest information on federal, state, city, and private/non profit agency contracts and grants
LOCATING NEW BUSINESS (con’t) • Government and private agencies/non profit groups • Industry sources • Networks
WHICH JOBS TO TARGET • Management responsibility • Report to the person in charge (vice president, contract officer, program manager) in case RFP is announced • Call for a bid-decision meeting to decide whether should apply • Proposals should be assigned to the most potentials person on voluntary base • Proposal developing team should have specific areas of expertise and free from other distractions
WHICH JOBS TO TARGET (con’t) • Bid-decision criteria • Does your proposal support your total marketing strategy? • Does this project fall into your organization’s area of expertise? • Does your background research on the project point out where your firm has a competitive edge over other companies? • Have you worked for the client before or had significant contact with them on other jobs? • Can you assemble a proposal team and provide them with enough support and dedicated time to get the job done? • What are realistic chances that your firm will receive the contract?
When not to write a proposal • No enough time to write a good proposal • RFP states that the current project is follow up work for a multiple stage project • Technical or other specifications of the project do not match your systems but do match those of your competitors • The contract does not support your marketing strategy or is out of your field expertise • Your have no real competitive edge over other firms • You do not have the staff or resources to prepare the best proposal your company can present • Your chances of winning the proposal are less than 50 % or as some experts advocate, less than 80%
Characteristics of a winning proposal • Evidence that you clearly understand the client’s problems or situation • A strategy and program plan or design that the client feels will solve the problem and produce the desired results • Clear documentation of your firm’s qualification and capabilities for carrying out the program plan • Evidence that your firm is reliable and dependable • A convincing reason why the client should choose your firm over all the others competing for the job • You proposal should look like a winner (format, graphics, printing, binding—professionalism)