Wednesday, January 28, 2009

How to write a to write a business proposal strategy

What's the commonest search term here at Learn to Write Proposals? Simple, people interested in business development and writing business proposals want to know..."how to write a proposal".

The real question here at Learn to Write Proposals is "how do I write a winning business proposal?". And that's something which is not always as straightforward. We can offer a free business proposal template, but that doesn't tell anyone how to write the solution for their clients, nor does a sample proposal - but we can help you figure out what should be in your sales documents when it comes to write a proposal.

There are several steps that you need to go through in order to win business and writing the proposal is just one of them. Over the next few days, I'm going to take a closer look at the proposal lifecycle...which really is the sales lifecycle, starting with finding and creating opportunities - as that's where it all starts.

It's the process known in the USA as "capture planning" - the process from of managing the strategy of an opportunity so that the end result is a win. I'll start by describing the process from the start, but when we think about any process that needs to be put in place we should think about the last part first - the result that we want to achieve.

If we know what it is we wish to achieve, what our goal is, that's when we can plan the series of sub-tasks and activities that will help us achieve that goal. It's something that salespeople are often very bad at - planning backwards, that's why we often have bid managers to manage bids - because salespeople often make the worst project managers. There aren't many organisations in the world where the board would enjoy project managers selling and the sales team running projects and there are good reasons for that. But managing an account and an opportunity often needs the planning skills of a project manager, not just the thrill of the hunt attitude of the salesperson.

So thinking backwards we need to plan the goal; our proposal strategy for that client; our account plan for the client and how we position ourselves for winning work; our interactions with the client and ultimately the reasons why we think our business will benefit by interacting with the client organisation at all. When we know some of these things we can realistically look at finding...and creating opportunities.