Your proposal format will contain several sections. Your proposal may have some or all of these sections depending on what information your client asks for.
Let’s explore at what a proposal format might look like by getting to know the sections you might include in your proposal.
This is where you state your understanding of the client’s problem or need. It helps the client understand why he or she should be reading this. This is sometimes called, “pushing the pain button.”
You’ll also want to describe the end result, the “happily ever after” that results from your work.
Scope of Work/Approach
Sometimes you will define the scope of work. The scope of work is what you will do for the client. What actions will you take to fulfill the client’s need or solve their problem?
Proposals are often later attached to contracts. They are, in a sense, legal documents. Therefore, you need to be not only honest, but very specific in your proposal. You need to state exactly what you are going to do for the client.
Often a client will provide you with a scope of work and ask you to address how you will approach this scope. In this case, you need to explain how you will perform the tasks outlined and give the client a “warm and fuzzy” that you know what you’re talking about.
Once you’ve told the client what you can do for them, they’ll want to know how exactly how much it will cost. Depending on how you price your services, you may need to define the assumptions your price is based on and the things your price does not include.
There is an entire discussion on how to go about pricing services in Proposal Development Secrets: Win More, Work Smarter, and Get Home on Time. Pick it up if you need help in that area. There is also more in that book about how to write a proposal.
Other Proposal Elements
There are a few other pieces of information your client might want to see in a proposal. Even if you are not asked to provide this information, it might be in your best interest to include it.
Letter of Interest/Executive Summary
A letter of interest or executive summary answers the following question, “What are you going to do for me and why should I hire you?” Basically, this is one or two pages that make your case. This should provide the client all the information needed to convince your client to say, “yes.”
Relevant experience is defined as instances where you helped a similar client solve the same challenge or clients just like them who decided to hire you.
I go into much more detail about this in my book.
Qualifications Of The Team
This details who will be working with the client and what their qualifications are. It often contains resumes or bios of the team members.
I’m not really sure why clients often ask for this, but I imagine they want to know who is in charge of each aspect of the assignment. They probably also want to know who to contact if there is a problem.
It’s in your best interest to make the organization chart “stupid simple.” If a monkey can’t understand it, you are doing yourself a disservice.
These elements, based on the need of your proposal, make up the proposal format.