Write a Business Proposal in Response to a Request For Proposal

Posted by Hridoy Ahmed on November 21st, 2020

Here's the situation: a potential client asks you for a proposal for services or products in response to a Request for Proposal (RFP process) but where do you start? If you have never written a business proposal before, this can be a daunting task. However, by using a logical document format, you can develop a quality proposal that will maximize the chances of it being accepted. Then you'll discover that you can repeat the same formula for any subsequent proposals. 

This article recommends and details the minimum content areas that you should address in a business proposal. In this case, we assume that there is no formal document structure requested by your client - so it is for you to decide on the form of the proposal. 

Before you start writing any proposal, you must consider your aim - to make a sale of your goods and or services. Two of the major issues considered by your client in deciding whether to accept your proposal are whether, in their opinion, you understand their business needs; and that you can deliver what you promise. You must continually refer to these two fundamental questions when you write your proposal. Referring back to these issues also helps you with developing the content of your proposal.

This requires you to provide an overview of your services or products that will meet their business needs. The client's needs are obtained from a Brief that may range from a formal written document through to a verbal conversation. You need to provide the client with the confidence that you understand their business needs and demonstrate how your products or services meet them.

 In this section, you need to provide some explanation about how you are going to approach the work. This builds more confidence for your client, as they read what you are doing (Scope of Work), along with evidence that you have thought about and planned the work.

You should provide details of previous engagements in which you have delivered similar products or services. It is also helpful to include personal references, should the client wish to verify them. The purpose of this is to give the client some measure of how mature and experienced you are in delivering the services or products you are offering. 

The cost of your proposal can be expressed either in a lump sum or on a time and materials basis. You will need to provide visibility of your hourly rates if you are charging on a time and materials basis. If it is appropriate, or if the client desires, you can suggest being paid according to certain project deliverables that are stated in the Timelines and Milestones section. In this case, you can align the relevant Milestones against appropriate payment amounts. If the engagement is on a time and materials basis, then you can align payments with deliverables or request that payments be made periodically such as fortnightly or monthly.

If you have any contract terms that you wish to apply to the agreement, they should be included here. These could include anything from ownership of IP through to payment terms. You can use the services of a lawyer to help you develop these terms if required.

The above areas are the recommended minimum contents of any business proposal in response to a Request for Proposal (RFP process). Used systematically, this can guide can help you to develop and refine the format of your proposals. It allows you to breakdown the task of proposal writing into relevant sections, allowing you to focus on the all-important technical content.

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Hridoy Ahmed

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Hridoy Ahmed
Joined: May 8th, 2019
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