Wednesday, January 6, 2010

10 ways to make your proposal easier to understand

Many proposals are complex, but there is no good reason to over complicate. Try and simplify your arguments and proposition so that buyers can easily understand it and see the benefits of it.

Here are some suggestions how:
  1. Use easy to understand words. OK - this might seem obvious, but how many times have the technical team supplied content that is completely undecipherable? Make sure everyone reading the proposal understands it.
  2. Know your audience. Following on from number 1; use the language and style appropriate to the people who will be reading your proposal.
  3. Use diagrams. It's an old chestnut, but a picture really can be worth a thousand words. Use appropriate diagrams to support your explanations in the text.
  4. Keep the diagrams easy to understand. As with words, keep them simple. Use more than one diagram if they start getting over complicated.
  5. Be explicit about the benefits. Don't assume that the client will jump to the same conclusions you will. Explain why your proposal is better for them.
  6. Don't use 100 words when 10 will do. If you can get your message across in fewer words do.
  7. Have a point to each section of the proposal. Use a win theme statement at the start of each section to explain the key message and benefits contained in that section.
  8. Use a compliance matrix. Even if the client doesn't ask for one, a table showing that you meet or exceed the requirements shows the client immediately that your proposed solution will do everything they ask.
  9. Present your pricing sensibly. Break down your pricing into sensible elements that reflect what you are going to provide. Have you ever received a bill and wondered how they came up with it? Don't let the client fell that way about your proposal.
  10. Be consistent with terminology. Don't assume everyone knows everything. If you use TLAs (three letter abbreviations) or other specialist terms, then don't be afraid to provide a glossary or explanations in footnotes. You never know who will end up reading it.