project proposal

When a potential client asks for a project proposal, the proposal team usually reacts in one of two ways:

  • Go through the previously created business proposals, Ctrl c, Ctrl v, and edit. Why do extra work? 
  • Grab the opportunity to impress the client.

This post is intended for those people who believe in the second approach. Because when it comes to trying to get yourself noticed and listened to in the world of business you’ll need a fresh project proposal that stands out from others and not something that was created for some other business. 

But before we dive into the details of how to create a project proposal that rises above the competition, let’s start from the basics.

What is a project proposal, really?

what is a project proposal

A project proposal is a key document that you consider sending to the potential client, sponsor, or investor in order to get your proposed project approved or funded.  Every project proposal is different in terms of its content but the core structure/format remains the same. A project proposal must include all essential details in order to be accepted or funded. It includes all the information related to,

  • Background of why the project is being proposed i.e what problem are you trying to solve
  • Investment  required
  • Key deliverables
  • Overview of the timeframe
  • Roles and responsibilities of the people involved in the project
  • Impact of not doing the project (not mandatory)

Only a project proposal that is relevant, comprehensive, and impressive will have a higher chance of converting, getting your prospect’s approval, and landing a deal.

How many types of project proposals are there?

types of project proposals

Generally speaking, there are 5 main types of project proposals.

1. Formally solicited

Formally solicited project proposals are created when the client notifies you and other competitors by preparing a request for information (RFQ), which specifies the exact type of work that needs to be done, along with the deadline and the guidelines on how. All you need to do is write a proposal for an evaluation.

Follow the below project proposal checklist for solicited proposals

Introduction
– Details of the applying organization
– Project details
– Name of the reviewer you’re sending the proposal to
 
Proposal activities before drafting
– Spend time carefully reviewing and studying an RFP
– Understand what they need and what results they are expecting to get
– Discuss and decide the project proposal title
– Create an outline of your project proposal
 
Proposal writing
– Start your proposal with an introduction letter
– Address your project goals and overview
– Explain your process/methodology
– Give them details about project deliverables and timeline
– Write down the project investment fee
– Introduce them to your organization and your team
– Include past success stories
– End it with terms of services
 
Activities before the submission
– Send your proposal for proofreading
– Review it up to three times
– Make changes as per the feedbacks
– Begin internal routings like approval and signature
– Congratulate yourself and your proposal development team on a successful project proposal development process
– Submit the project proposal

2. Informally solicited

In this case, prospective clients are interested in your services and request a proposal to examine. These proposals typically need a lot more investigation since they are based on personal interactions rather than formal requests which often contain all the necessary information.

3. Unsolicited

With an unsolicited proposal, well, you- and not the reader makes the first move.

These are the kind of project proposals that are not requested but are delivered to prospective clients. sponsor or investors as an introduction or a marketing piece.

4. Continuation or non-competing proposals

These project proposals affirm the original contract/proposal/plan and the financial requirements of a multi-yeared project for which the sponsor has already granted the early funds. The continuation of assistance is typically based on the successful work progress and availability of funds.

Follow the below checklist for continuation project proposals,

Introduction
– Details of the applying organization
– Project details
– Name of the reviewer you’re sending the proposal to
 
Proposal activities before drafting
Make a list of original project proposal details
List down the key project results you delivered
Create an outline of continuing the contract
 
Assessment activities
Analyze the overall accomplishments
Analyze the current project services and resources
– Analyze the difficulties experienced
Outline the necessary changes
 
Proposal writing
– Start your proposal with an introduction letter
Address the progress you’ve made
Explain the changes you’ll implement
Give them details about new projections
End it with terms of services
 
Activities before the submission
– Send your proposal for proofreading
– Review it up to three times
Make changes as per the feedbacks
Begin internal routings like approval and signature
Submit the project proposal

5. Renewal proposals

These proposals are delivered to the prospective clients in order to continue the support for an existing project that is about to end. Such project proposals are similar to the new proposals and must be processed and approved in the same manner.

Follow the below checklist for renewal project proposals, 

Introduction
– Details of the applying organization
– Project details
– Name of the reviewer you’re sending the proposal to
 
Proposal activities before drafting
Make a list of original project proposal details
List down the key project results you delivered
Create an outline of renewing the contract
 
Assessment activities
Analyze the overall accomplishments
Analyze the current project services and resources
Analyze the renewed project’s overall outcomes
 
Proposal writing
 
– Start your proposal with an introduction letter
Address the renewed project goals and overview
Explain the changes you’ll implement
End it with terms of services
 
Activities before the submission
– Send your proposal for proofreading
– Review it up to three times
Make changes as per the feedbacks
Begin internal routings like approval and signature
Submit the project proposal

After deciding what kind of project proposal you are going to write, you should get ready for the most important part.

What should a project proposal include?

essential elements of project proposal

The project proposal is a document that you prepare for the prospective client to convince them that your project services are a perfect fit for their business. In today’s competitive world, it’s important to have a project proposal that impresses clients, grabs the attention at first glance, and differentiates itself from the others

Your proposal should help the prospective client to make the decision in your favor, it should influence the customer and convince him/her to invite you for the further process. Now let’s get rolling and look at a general structure your project proposal should have.

Here are 9 elements every project proposal should have.

  1. Proposal cover
  2. Cover letter
  3. Scope of the project
  4. Implementation plan
  5. Your investment
  6. About your organization
  7. Case study
  8. Terms of services
  9. Call to action

Let’s explore the key sections one by one in detail,

Cover letter

Those who ignore the value of cover letter while pitching their web design proposal, they miss out on the great opportunity to create a quick connection with the prospect. Because the cover letter is your real first point of contact with the prospect.

The goal of this section is to grab the client’s attention instantly by showing them how well you understand their business, their challenges, and their needs, and make them feel assured you are one with whom they’ll feel most comfortable working.

Besides knowing what to include in a successful project proposal, you should also learn some useful tips and tricks that will help you close deals faster.

Recommended Solution

After outlining the challenges or the problems, you’ll need to recommend a solution. The rough outline or the sketch of your proposed project should clearly explain how you will address the issue of your client. This section should also lay out the entire process that you’ll follow so they will know what to expect.

Schedule and Deliverables

This section will explain how your workflow will operate within a timeframe. Break down all the key steps and the timeline for your client. Providing an accurate timeline with deliverables allows you to set the client’s expectations early.

To go beyond the standard timeline, you can also include a separate client-side dependency timeline that outlines what you’ll need from the client’s side and when. This will show the client that you have a very in-depth understanding of your work. And plus outlining the client’s deliverables will also make them aware of what you will need from them and can make them put things in place from the beginning.

Cost and Budget

This is where things get a little challenging because you don’t want to scare them away with your pricing. And if you go wrong in presenting the price you may lose your prospect forever.

The key to getting your “pricing section” right is by using an interactive pricing table. Such interactive price tables offer a variety of pricing options where your prospects can change the quantity, choose the services that best fit their needs. In short, they can create a customized version of your services for them.

Testimonial or Case Study

It is one of the brilliant ways to promote your business. Because people love reading stories about other people and when you tell them how you’ve helped your previous clients solve a problem.

A great case study in your project proposal gives prospective clients a real insight into the benefits of your proposed project and also an idea of what it’s like to work with you.

Terms and Conditions

Always keep the contract and your terms and conditions part of your proposal and get them signed together to avoid future conflict.

Call to Action

This is a very important element in your sales proposal. Here you must let your prospect know what is required to be done to get things rolling. You can include something like,

  • Sign the proposal (with e-signature)
  • The initial amount to be payable while signing the contract.
  • Schedule a next meeting call to discuss further steps.

How to write successful project proposals: Tips and Tricks

tips for writing project proposal

Here they are, 4 ultimate tips and tricks to improve your project proposal.

Tip 1: Set Up a Meet or a Phone Call

Sounds like an obvious first tip right, but make sure before you even begin writing your project proposal, sit down, and talk to your prospects about their needs.

Because you know the secret to winning more and more deals lies in understanding the client’s behavior, discovering what exactly they want by asking questions, and then presenting that information in the order that guides them to make the deal.

Tip 2: Let Them Do the Talking

Listening is the most critical thing in creating an impressive project proposal. So be attentive, focus on the client with high concentration, and be interested in what they have to say. But this doesn’t mean just literally sit back and listen, throw in some words in between, and show that you understand and you’re interested as a gesture of support. It’s a subtle form of reassurance.

Tip 3: Do your research

I can’t stretch this enough. The better you know about your prospect the better your project proposal will be. That is why do your research!

There are ways to make the process of knowing your prospect easier. Let’s explore one by one,

  • Research your client’s business: This will include as many stories, articles related to the business of your client as possible. Forums, online communities even social media are great platforms to gain a general understanding of your client’s brand and industry trends.
  • Identify their decision-makers: Identify the decision-makers and the decision-making process before you set up a meet. Once you’ve identified the decision-makers, you can then decide your approach for engaging them.
  • Research the competition: This information will give insights about what your prospect’s competitors are doing and then with the same data you can tell what your client will need to do in order to compete with others in the industry.
  • Identify their business KPIs and goals: Discuss your client’s goal with them If they can’t define the clear project goal, guide them. Give them examples of how your proposed project can help them achieve their ultimate goal.

Tip 4: Verify the communication

To avoid misunderstandings, simply repeat what the prospective client says to clearly articulate you have understood what they want. If you spoke over the phone call, summarise your conversation in an email, send it along, and ask them to validate the content.

To avoid future conflicts or misunderstandings or surprises, remember to provide as many crucial details as possible.

The hidden traps in project proposal writing

hidden traps in project proposal writing

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. This is why I’ve come up with a list of traps you must avoid when creating a project proposal template.

1. “The cover letter” trap

Do I really need to submit one? Does it hurt my chances if I don’t? Does anyone even read these anymore? 

You can’t be falling for this specific trap most proposal writers do. 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 proposed project is 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 cover letter, they will be happy to delve further.

2. “The longer the better” trap

Choose quickly: An hour-long IGTV video or a 30 seconds reel?

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 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.

3. “Proofreading is a myth” trap

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.

4. “CTA- who needs that?” trap

After all the efforts you’ve put into crafting an ideal project proposal template 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. 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

Best practices for writing a project proposal

best practices of writing project proposal

If you’re messy and careless in your proposal presentation, your prospective client can conclude that your project contract delivery would be similarly messy and careless. Here are some of the best practices you can follow to present your proposed project clearly.

1. Be brief

While drafting project proposals, there is one thing you need to keep in mind that they should be lengthy enough to get to the key points such as who is offering what and how they will overcome the pain point. Simultaneously, they should be concise enough to hold their attention.

2. Avoid jargon

To ensure that your writing is effective and keeping your recipient engaged, avoid jargon and replace it with easy-to-understand terms and phrases. Use terms your prospect would use typically while trying to explain what they need. Because in the end, you don’t want to leave prospects guessing what you can do for them.

3. Give your proposal a fresh look

Why do you need great visuals in your project proposal?

One must not forget that your proposal is a marketing tool, not a thesis. A messy and unattractive project proposal can be a real turn-off to your prospective clients. It sends a message that you didn’t care enough to make your proposal look good. You have to make sure that your proposal is easier on the reader’s eyes.

In the digital world, you obviously need a glamorous business proposal to dazzle your prospect. A typical project proposal filled with lots and lots of words doesn’t influence the prospect to read furthermore. Following are the essential factors for styling your project proposal,

  • Layout
  • Font
  • Table of Contents
  • Visuals
  • Company Logo

4. Include an e-signature

As the world is becoming digital, the traditional way of signing and validating documents via pen and paper has started disappearing. And if you want to be successful in the marketing industry you need to keep up with the trend. Including an E-signature in your project proposal will not only open the way for the paperless solution but it’ll also make the process more productive, save your time and money.

5. Use a right proposal template

More than having some ready language, there are many other benefits of using a project proposal template. It helps you set the

  • Clear structure to your proposal that is easy for your prospect to navigate your understanding of the client’s problem, your proposition, approach, capabilities, timeline, showcase other work and quotation,
  • The right tone that makes easy for your prospect to see that you are already involved with him/her to solve the problem.
  • The right visuals which enable the prospect to subconsciously engage you for the next stage.

Things that stop prospects from signing on your project proposal

mistakes of project proposal writing

Business proposal failures are often caused by mistakes that can be easily avoided with a little bit of attention to detail and strategic planning. Here are the three most common mistakes project proposal writers make:

Lack of details

In order to keep it brief, short, and concise; many times consultants sacrifice the details. Because of lacking details, prospective clients may assume that you’re not the best person to identify their problems and help initiate changes.

It does not meet the eyes of a right person

Irrespective of the fact that your proposal is well-written and stunning, but if it does not meet the eyes of a person who makes the buying decision, your proposal will, unfortunately, come back unsigned.

No personalization 

The greatest crime of any consulting proposal is failing to understand the client and their needs.

 

Guidelines for closing your project proposal

tips for closing your proposal

When you’re sending a project proposal, it’s crucial to close your proposal in a professional manner. An ideal for a project proposal conveys your thanks and respect. While it’s important to start strong and keep the prospect hooked throughout the proposal, it’s ultimately the closing statement that’ll change the game for you. Here are a few tips for closing your project proposal,

Sum up all the main points

Craft a summary of your proposal, keep it brief. Again remind the prospect about their pain points and how you will fix them. Indeed, these issues were likely covered in your proposal but the closing should include the bullet points or visual examples of your key benefits.

Clear call to action

Because obviously, you can’t expect the buyers to move forward on their own. Tell them exactly what to do next to get your offer. What they can expect to happen and how excited you are to be able to help them. Even if the customer isn’t ready for the sale yet, be sure to keep the prospect on the journey and move forward with a follow-up meeting or a trial period.

Include contact details

Make sure you list down the contact details in the closeout: email, phone, address, are usual. In certain cases, website addresses and social media accounts will also work.

 

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