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A simple proposal formula

Here is a simple approach to help you cover all the bases in your proposal. You can use it like a formula. For each section or requirement that you must address in the RFP, make sure you answer: who, what, where, how, when, and why. Repeat it like a mantra, until it rolls off your tongue and you have it memorized. Then use it to anticipate and answer all of your customer's questions.

After you have written your proposal, you can use the same formula to review it and help ensure you have addressed everything you should have addressed. In each section of your proposal, simply ask yourself if it answers "who, what, where, how, when, and why?"

  • Who: who will do the work, who will manage the work, who does the customer call if there is a problem, who is responsible for what
  • What: what needs to be done/delivered, what will be required to do it, what can the customer expect, what it will cost
  • Where: where will the work be done, where will it be delivered
  • How: how will be work be done, how will it be deployed, how will it be managed, how will you achieve quality assurance and customer satisfaction, how will risks be mitigated, how long will it take, how will the work benefit the customer
  • When: when will you start, when will key milestones be scheduled, when will the project be complete, when is payment due
  • Why: why have you chosen the approaches and alternatives you have selected, why the customer should select you

This simple little phrase (who, what, where, how, when, and why) can help you not only ensure that your proposal says everything it should, but that it answers the customer's questions better than your competitors. You can even use it to exceed the customer's minimum requirements by addressing the questions they forgot to ask.

When you read a simple proposal response written to address the customer's requirements, and compare it to one that answers "who, what, where, how, when, and why?" you'll see a dramatic difference in the quality of the proposal. Simply doing a better job of answering your customer's questions can give you a competitive edge when everything else between them is equal.

In addition to using it for inspiration when writing, you can also use it like a checklist for reviewing a draft proposal. When you read a draft proposal, consider these questions and pretend to be the customer. Go over the questions and see if the proposal provides all of the answers you would want if you were the customer.

All you have to remember is "who, what, where, how, when, and why."

And you thought proposal writing was supposed to be hard!


By Carl Dickson, Founder of CapturePlanning.com



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