A Proposal is a Special Type of DocumentA winning proposal is well written, clear, consistent, easy to read and memorable. The SMA proposal development process achieves this by building quality in from the beginning, not trying to add it in later. It frontloads the work and provides continuous improvement through frequent and incremental reviews.
You must recognize that a proposal is a sales document, not a technical document. The objective is to provide all the information required by the solicitation and to do so in a way that can be scored against the evaluation criteria and, at the same time, convince the reader that you offer the best solution. It is less about impressing the reader with your technical prowess and more about convincing them that they should want to work with you. You know you did it right when the customer comes back and says, “I actually enjoyed reading your proposal!”
Your proposal must satisfy the “7 Cs” shown here to be effective.
The 7 Cs
CompliantDoes it meet all customer requirements?
CompellingWill it make the customer want to buy it?
CredibleCould you perform the effort? Do they want you?
CorrectIs it accurate?
ConsistentAcross all deliverables?
ConciseIs is brief and to the point?
ClearWill the customer get it?
Five Key Techniques to a Winning Writing StyleThere are five fundamental techniques that help create a positive writing style:
Use the Present TensePointing out that “we design,” “we build,” “we test,” and so on, is more compelling than saying “we will.”
Use the First PersonUsing the first person is more conversational and makes for an easier and more friendly read.
Be PositiveStating things in a positive context and not using conditional statements conveys your confidence.
Avoiding Stilted PhrasesA friendly writing style is conversational, quantified, and is not rife with superlatives.
Use the Active VoiceThis helps make your prose more believable, more direct, and more self-confident.
You can read more about these key techniques to a winning writing style in our book, “The Essential Guide to Proposal Development.” Click here for more details about the book and how to get a copy!