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Keys to Writing Great Proposals Fast

Updated on September 13, 2009
Writing proposals can be fast
Writing proposals can be fast

Often writing proposals can seem like a chore – a necessary evil in the business world. It takes time and the worst of it is that, if you don’t get the work, the time feels wasted. There are, however, ways to increase the speed at which you write business proposals and, either free up some time for other things, or for getting more proposals done. Here they are:

Have a Proposal Template

Making use of a standard proposal template has the following benefits:

  • You are not starting from scratch each time you need to write a proposal.
  • You know what information you need to gather for your proposal.
  • Writing a proposal is easier and clearer as it is only a matter of slotting the required details into the correct sections.

In addition, your proposal will be well-presented and immediately project a professional image to your potential client.

Use Lists and Tables

Many parts of a proposal contain facts and information. For example:

  • The project requirements.
  • Your qualifications, skills and experience.
  • Your suggestions, comments, potential solutions and queries on the job.
  • Pricing information.
  • Procedures and processes.

Often it is much quicker to put these into a list or table format. Also, you can use simple sentences and don’t have to spend time weaving them into a well-written and flowing paragraph. This frequently has the added advantage of making a proposal clearer.

Know Your Value

Part of a proposal always involves showing the client how valuable you are for their particular project and how your unique set of skills and capabilities is the best for the job. For this you need to know your strengths and distinctive qualities. Once you have a clear view of where you shine and your original value add , it will be easier and quicker to incorporate this into your proposal.

You need to spend some time on this initially but, from then on, you will easily be able to mix, match and customize the text for each proposal.

First identify where you shine:

  • Review times where you have excelled in your work. What qualities and skills enabled you to achieve? Write a sentence or two about the situation and outcome.
  • What do people admire or praise about you? List these aspects and where you display them.
  • What noteworthy attributes or talents do you feel you have? List and give examples.
  • Have you obtained any awards, prizes, special achievements or accolades?

Now when you are writing a proposal you can look at the project requirements and quickly identify what skills, personal qualities, experience and qualifications you have that will make you perfect for the job.

Perhaps you like to include a paragraph on what special business value you can bring to this project or, again, you can use a table.

Have the General Text

Certain parts of a proposal contain fairly standard text, for example the introduction or your background etc. Have this prepared. You may require a couple of versions for different types of work and clients. Then, once again, this can easily be incorporated into your document.

NOTE: What is important to always remember though is that a proposal must be customized for the particular client and their specific project. Never send out a stock-standard, generic proposal. Always maintain client focus. So, even though you have general text prepared, you still need to use that only as a basis and adapt it for each proposal.

Draw Up a Pricing System

Don’t waste time trying to decide on how to price the project or what you should charge etc. Have a process for determining your price and follow it.

Perhaps there are certain jobs that you really want to win. Then you must know how much you are willing to drop your price and what you will sacrifice for the work.

Use a Good Time Management System

If you have an effective way of scheduling your work and managing your time you will easily be able to see how you can slot a job into your program and be able to give time estimates for the work in your proposal. If you are haphazard in your approach to work you will waste time trying to determine when you will do the work.

Not only that, you will also waste time in your daily work as you try to juggle projects, interruptions, admin tasks etc. A time management system is imperative for anybody – especially if you are self-employed.

Relevant work samples and testimonials

You must always include work samples or references to work samples in your proposals. These need to be related to the work that you are bidding on. Keep a portfolio so that your examples are quick to come by. The same applies for testimonials and references.

If you like to include your resume in your proposal, again, have it ready and always up-to-date.

Know Your Clients

If you know your clients you will know what is important to include in your proposal and what won’t influence their decision in choosing you. Don’t waste time including information that is not beneficial and will detract from the real value.

Proposal writing at its best
Proposal writing at its best

When it comes to business proposal writing, once you have yourself set-up in this way, you will find it less of a chore and faster. You don’t have to think too much about it and most of it is already completed. You will free up time for submitting more proposals and for doing the increase in workload from the additional jobs that you win as a result of these extra bids!

Image credits: Clock - RBerteig (Flikr); Handshake - galleryquantum (Flikr)


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    • JulietduPreez profile image

      JulietduPreez 8 years ago

      Hi Nan

      Yes, I've been involved with proposal writing for quite some time and have recently written a book on it.


    • Nan Mynatt profile image

      Nan Mynatt 8 years ago from Illinois

      Good information, sounds like you have had a lot of experience.

    • JulietduPreez profile image

      JulietduPreez 8 years ago

      Good to hear!

    • profile image

      Samantha 8 years ago

      Extremely helpful. Thank you!

    • profile image

      Samantha 8 years ago

      Extremely helpful. Thank you!

    • JulietduPreez profile image

      JulietduPreez 8 years ago

      Thank you, glad you have found it beneficial

    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 8 years ago from malang-indonesia

      I like this information. great hub.

    • JulietduPreez profile image

      JulietduPreez 8 years ago

      Thank you, I appreciate it.

    • Luciendasky profile image

      Luciendasky 8 years ago from Florence, OR

      This is a very good hub! Keep up the good work - you will be good on hubpages.

    • JulietduPreez profile image

      JulietduPreez 8 years ago

      Glad you found it useful!

      I'm a freelance writer and have delved quite deeply into the aspects of writing good proposals

    • profile image

      Pacal Votan 8 years ago

      Wow, this one is insightful. How do you know so much about the subject?

    • JulietduPreez profile image

      JulietduPreez 8 years ago

      Thank you ;)

    • Cornel Human profile image

      Cornel Human 8 years ago from Johannesburg South Africa

      Great first hub!