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  1. Do you have enough information on the customer’s company to understand their business and the context of their inquiry/request/approach to you?

  2. Have you identified the stakeholders?

  3. Do you understand what each of the stakeholders really wants?

  4. Have you assessed the business requirements, and the individual requirements, of your customers?

  5. Do you know who your competitors are, or likely to be, and what they will offer?

  6. Have you established strong enough relationships with the right people, to have your proposal taken seriously?

  7. Have you established the commitment of the customer to proceed with the specified project/purchase?

  8. If possible, try to establish a budget for what your customer is asking you to do.  Make sure it’s the sort of project that you would want to take on.

Building the Proposal

  1. Recap the brief as you understand it, whether it’s for professional services, delivery of products, or development of software, the customer wants to buy something from you for a reason.  By recapping the brief, it sets a framework within which you can work, and the goals and intent are very clear for both parties.  It eliminates confusion over expectations on both sides.

  2. If, in the course of compiling your proposal, you realise you need to clarify something or need additional information, call your customer to discuss.  They won’t mind – they want you to understand.

  3. Present your proposed solution or product offering in a compelling way, aligning it with the requirements reiterated in the initial recap of the brief.  Your offering, your approach and what you plan to do must be aligned to what the customer needs and wants.

  4. Specify very clear deliverables so again, there is no confusion as to what you will deliver and what the customer will receive as an outcome.

  5. Set a timeframe.

  6. Specify the fee or price.

  7. Include terms and conditions.

  8. Allow for contingencies and clearly state them.  For example, timeframes and fees may vary due to uncontrollable circumstances.

  9. Certain agreements would be based on SLAs (Service Level Agreements), in which very clear and specific deliverables will be itemised, often with penalty clauses for non-delivery.

  10. Check the spelling of the customer’s name and the company name.

  11. Check for spelling and grammatical errors in the document – get another person to check as well.

  12. Present the proposal in a format that is preferred by your customer (Powerpoint, email, hard copy document).

  13. Include what you need to include and delete the rest.  Your customers don’t have time to wade through mounds of words to extract the essence of the proposal.

Follow Up

  1. Deliver, present, email or post the proposal.

  2. Set a time for a follow up meeting to review, wherever possible.

  3. If you’ve followed these steps, you have a very good chance of success!
© 2007 BOSS Management Group Pty Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

This Business article was written by Jenny Stilwell on 7/19/2007

Jenny Stilwell is the creator of BOSSMENTOR® Business, a FREE monthly e-zine for professional, lifestyle oriented business owners wanting to confidently increase the value of their business, ultimately spending less time in it. You’ll get proven strategies, tips and resources designed to help you achieve success. Get your FREE copy now at