Sneha J

October 27, 2021

Project proposal: Common Mistakes in Project Proposal Writing

mistakes in project proposal writing

Common Mistakes in Project Proposal Writing

As a project manager, to sell your project services I am sure you would be regularly sending business proposals or quotations to your prospective client or existing customers.

Your project proposal is the formal presentation of your company, your project services, the clients you serve.

You can use a project proposal any time when you want to get a new client or if you have an existing client that wants a new set of project services from your company.

So, to ensure your business remains competitive and effective, you need to craft a project proposal that is well organized, concise, and contains all the relevant details the prospect needs. (Check out this project proposal checklist to create such a proposal)

Business owners normally ask for multiple proposals from multiple companies to decide which one is the best fit for their project needs.

Yet, we see many instances where sales professionals make common mistakes in project proposal writing which cost the business tremendously.

What should you avoid when creating a project proposal?

Are you facing project proposal writing challenges? Don’t worry, you’re not alone!

A project proposal writing is a kind of process that demands a well-developed approach and a thorough investigation before submitting the document to the prospective client. The most important thing about this process is recognizing what not to do while creating your project proposal. This is why I’ve come up with a list of top 7 mistakes you must avoid when creating a project proposal template.

Proceeding with unqualified leads

Proceeding with unqualified leads

The cost of writing proposals for unqualified sales leads is bigger than merely wasting time.

Higher sales outcomes are not often achieved by increasing conversion rates. Instead greater sales are sometimes accomplished by enhancing the upfront procedures like qualifying the sales leads that are coming into your company.

And if you start writing proposals as soon as you receive leads, certainly you are not working smart.

I know what you might be thinking.

There are many variations of qualifying leads – the intent of the prospect, size of the deal, timeline to buy your project services, decision-makers involved, cost-benefit involved, etc.

You may feel overwhelmed if you try to answer all of these questions at once.  But hey, you have got to start somewhere, right?

Lead qualification is challenging but as you continue to work on lead qualification, you can come up with a checklist, quick calculations, and related best practices, to refine the qualification process for prospective leads.

Sending proposals without an overview

missing overview

You can’t be making this specific mistake proposal writers make. You have to think like a PRO, you have to make it easier for prospect/buyer to quickly shortlist you because you know that your project services are the best for their business problems,

You have to write a proposal with an executive summary that summarises your understanding of the problem which the client is trying to address and you have the right solution (And you may have delivered recently to similar customers).

Not only it is the purchasing person/buyer but all the decision-makers, influencers, and other stakeholders will be looking for quicker ways to evaluate your entire proposal. If your proposal has the right executive summary, they will be happy to delve further.

Telling your story instead of theirs

sharing your story: mistakes in project proposal writing

Your prospective clients do not care about your business, your project services.

I’m sorry but it’s true. All they care is about how it benefits them. Don’t take it personally but it’s just natural human behavior.

And it would be a big mistake – if you are talking mainly about your company, your achievements, your success, your process throughout the proposal.

When you’re pitching your project services it is absolutely essential to highlight how your services will help your prospective client and not your business.

You have to sing the tune that your prospect would like to hear.

You should craft the project proposal template such that prospective clients will feel that you understand HIS BUSINESS, his problem/pain areas, the changes he would like to implement, the results he would like to see.

Keep that evaluation ready for your prospect. Let him know that you understand his business, processes, the problems very well, and how well you can help him overcome those problems, grow his business, etc.

How to write a project proposal? Here are tips for proposal writing

Failing to keep it brief

too long to read

Do you have that much patience and time to read that long forwarded message?

You will probably just read a few lines or you will simply ignore it.

The same theory applies to project proposal writing.

Yet another project proposal writing mistake the sales team makes- making the project proposal template unnecessarily long.

The key to developing a winning project proposal is to make every word count. Trim down all the fat and draft a project proposal that grabs the attention at the first glance. Never allow your client to check out the other proposals that are in line by making this silly mistake.

Making It Difficult to Close

After all the efforts you’ve put into crafting the right proposal template for project but if you miss out few small points in it then all the efforts will go in vain.

Your beautifully crafted proposal should be easy to close.

Let’s take a look at those small points

  • In your proposal make it easy for the clients to sign digitally through the e-signing process. Don’t forget to add the guidelines in order to complete the process
  • Please be clear on giving information about pricing and implementation plan- Include interactive pricing tables.
  • Summarize all the key points
  • Make call-to-action clear and concise
  • Let the prospect know of the next steps according to you. Or you can express that you are open to navigating the way forward.

Keeping it all monotonous and not at all dazzling

boring design

The reader needs visuals like videos, images, pie charts, graphs, and most importantly “Colors”. Your project proposal should stay in their minds because of the visuals you’ve used.

Visuals are the first impression readers get of your brand. Visuals keep the reader engaged and urge them to continue reading.

Gone are the days wherein the proposals are sent using printed papers. Even the days of sending proposals in PDF, MS Word, PPT format are numbered. The technology has been such great enabled, it allows you to showcase your best work using videos, tables.

Have a short video of a client testimonial – Why not include it in your proposal? Old PDF, MS Word will not allow you to display and run your video.

Fortunately, there is a way you can easily avoid these new-gen mistakes proposal writers make- project proposals template. The biggest benefits of using a project proposal template is that not only allows you to customize your proposal but make it more interactive, move visual.

Not examining the document, again

no proofreading

Do you know, if you are sending a proposal with typos, misalignment, grammar mistakes, you are preparing yourself to lose the deal?


Are you serious?

Typos and proofing errors in your proposal highlight your lack of seriousness. Only an unprofessional proposal writer would be careless enough to do so

Clients might think that if you are not taking time to verify & address these simple mistakes then what are other shortcuts are might taking during the course of engagement/project/ assignment?

Plan it out. Create an outline. Write the copy. Put it through proposal automation software, use Grammarly kind of proofing tools.

Check for spelling errors, improper words, misalignments, formatting woos. Correct anything and everything which will not reflect well on your business.

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