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6 Things Proposal Writers Need to Know

A successful proposal writer is timely and knowledgeable

Whether you’re a seasoned proposal writer or a new kid on the block of lengthy government documents, you know writing a winning proposal isn’t easy. It takes focus, determination, and efficient strategies. Writers of any kind must have a wide knowledge base to produce compelling copy, but proposal writers have to use their knowledge in a particular way to write winning contracts. 

Tips for writing successful RFP responses

If knowledge is power, you have to know how strong you are. If you’ve got a proposal looming, use these six tips to ensure you will not only finish but win the marathon of proposal writing:

1. Know your requirements

No runner begins a race without knowing the distance, pattern, and terrain of their run. Likewise, no proposal writer should begin a response to an RFP (Request for Proposals) without knowing the document inside and out. Of course, many writers do complete proposals without reading the RFP, but they don’t win contracts. Using our RFP software, the RFP Parser, you can condense hours of work in order to see your RFP’s requirements clearly in an outline format. Within thirty seconds, you have a detailed list confirming exactly what elements you’ll address in your proposal. 

2. Know your toolkit 

Now that you know what you need to produce, you must determine how you will produce it. This is a crucial step, because it will differentiate your proposal from the others, for better or worse. Communicate with your client and see what kind of source material is at your disposal. Will you have to transcribe handwritten meeting minutes, or do you have documents full of photos and data? Has the client previously won a contract with the company requesting proposals? It may seem overwhelming at first, but direct communication will clear a path. Knowing what kind of material you’re working with will make future tasks — like graphs, tables or charts with quantifiable data — easier to plan. 

3. Get organized

You’ve got your outline of requirements and a clear view of your source materials — are you ready to write yet? Well, not quite. The RFP’s requirements aren’t the only outline or list you will make. Especially if you have a team of writers, designers, and editors, you have to develop a workflow process. Identify which tasks need to get done first and who will do them, making sure everyone is on the same page. There’s no need to send countless emails to individual team members, though; our RFP Parser also creates a compliance matrix that makes delegation, team responsibilities, and workflow crystal clear.

4. Mirror the RFP

You’ve heard that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but did you know it’s also true for RFPs and proposals? Study the language of the document and notice what key phrases get repeated or take up more space on the page. Those repetitions of words and phrases aren’t accidental; they’re shortcuts to writing a winning proposal. Pay attention to diction and tone, but don’t forget more general elements: how is the RFP organized? Logically mirroring the RFP in language, order and layout put you one step closer to success.

5. Dress-up

No, we’re not talking about your attire, though writing in a blazer could be your lucky charm. We’re talking about what writers dread and designers love formatting. Your proposal could have compelling and compliant content, but if it looks like it was thrown into a Word document the week before the deadline, it won’t win. Presentation matters, so if design and formatting elements have you panicking, consider adding someone with that specific talent to your team. Thankfully, our RFP software makes this step less complicated by producing templates for general document layout, resumes and more. 

6. Review, review, review

A simple, yet often neglected part of the process? Review. A potentially win-worthy proposal could be thrown into the reject pile for simple mistakes like typos, unchanged sample text, factual errors or missing requirements. With our software, review is made easy with the compliance matrix and task lists everyone can access. Make sure you have copy editors and fact-checkers throughout each stage of the document’s development, and compare the final product against the original RFP. When every box is checked, it’s time to hit send and celebrate your impending win. 

Proposal writing isn’t easy, but with these tips and our premier software, you’ll be racking up wins in no time. 

Also, Read – How to Write an Executive Summary for Your Business Proposal

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