Do you submit nice looking proposals?

While it’s true, you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover, it’s a pretty good starting point and it will have an overall impression on the evaluators. Perception, after all, is everything.

A professional bid response suggests professional services/products.

However, like your written submission, it should be client focused. In this context, I mean it has to match their expectations and culture. A poorly presented proposal stuck in a binder with a non-professional cover, poorly laid out text, hard to read fonts and headings, etc. will look unprofessional to almost everyone, but a slick, glossy production that is more sales than substance may turn off some evaluators. So, you need to strike the right balance.I’ve been on the receiving end of both, for the same bid. Neither won. While it wasn’t the look of the proposals that lost them the bid, the tone the look set was actually carried through the written proposal. The unprofessional looking proposal was unprofessionally written and the slick bid was more of a sales pitch than a proposal response. Sort of along the lines of the owner looking like their dog.

So, while the presentation of your proposal has to be good, it’s the contents that really matter. Here are some tips for you to consider:

  1. It has to be professional. The paper you use, quality of printing, binding method, packaging, tabs, label and everything should look like you are professional. With modern in-house technology, inexpensive supplies and even printing services, there is simply no excuse. And if the project will include delivery of written material, reports, etc., this is especially important.
  2. It has to be Client focused. and essentially meet customer expectations. that includes length, details and possibly even style. For instance, if you spend lots of $ on the look and feel of your submission, it had better match your client – a high end client will appreciate it, a budget client may wonder if they are paying for your fancy stuff in the pricing.
  3. It has to be readable. Style for style sake doesn’t cut it, but good style will be more readable. There are lots of techniques honed over the years that improve readability, including font, colors, white space and more. More readable means the evaluators will have an easier time finding the things that match their evaluation criteria.
  4. It has to be logical. In addition to professional and readable, your structure, layout, headings, subheads and other elements have to make sense and lead the evaluator through the various parts of the proposal easily. Don’t make them hunt for things. Follow the RFP structure (especially questions) so they can easily find things. Include a small evaluation grid when you can to tell them the criteria you’ve covered. Use bookends, sidebars, etc. Don’t put the good stuff in an appendix, at least summarize the selling points in the main text. Etc.

Remember, everything you do should be designed to get a higher evaluation score. That’s what matters.


Our Book "Win More Business - Write Better Proposals". is now available at Amazon in many countries, including the USA , Canada, UK, Japan, Germany and France. You can also order it directly from the author on this website

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