What are your best business proposal ideas for dealing proposals where the client has a mandated layout? Read on!
Mandated Formats Are Common
Depending on the nature of the client and the opportunity, you may find that the RFP specifies a particular layout which must be adopted by all bidders for the target business.
Obviously, in this situation, the worst thing that you could do is to write proposal in a layout other than that prescribed, without prior consultation. Proposals that sell respond to client requirements in the manner the client requests.
Don’t Give Up Too Quickly
This is not to say that you should not question your client on the reasoning behind the mandated format. One of the best business proposal ideas is to sell the logic of a “Requirements-Solution-Benefits-Costs-Proof” format as the best means of communicating your proposed solution.
If your client is not prepared to allow your response to depart from the mandated format always try, at the very least, to include a section proving your understanding of the client requirement, and a section outlining the particular benefits of your proposed solution – even if this is in a separate accompanying letter or document.
Review the advice in the module on creating a proposal cover letter that will make your proposal stand out from all others.
Where your client has mandated a particular format for responses to their RFP or RFI, this will usually be to ease later comparison of the extent to which the various submitted proposals have addressed their requirements. Usually, the RFP will have some sort of numbering system which respondents encouraged to use to format their proposals.
If your assessment suggests that the mandated format will not allow you to sell your particular solution’s benefits adequately, you should see if your client is open to accepting your proposal in the ‘Winning’ form discussed above.
You’ll be surprised just how many people request business proposals in a mandated form simply because ‘that’s how we’ve always done it’ – one of the best business proposal ideas in this entire site is my recommendation that you never accept this without trying to find a way to work around it.
Presented with the option of a format that will make your solutions easier to understand many will readily agree to your alternative, especially if you make it easy to do so.
Extra work for the client, who would otherwise have to trawl through your “non-standard” proposal, issue-by-issue, can be avoided if you include a ‘Compliance/Requirements Matrix’ – this is a simple table for cross-referencing your responses to the various client requirements to the particular numbering or titling convention used in the RFP.
Figure 1 below is a simple example of a compliance/requirements matrix.
Figure 1: Typical Compliance/Requirements Matrix
Sell this idea to your client as the ‘best of both worlds’ – offering them the superior narrative style of your ‘Winning‘ proposal without sacrificing any of the ease of comparison of your proposal with those of other vendors.
Compliance/Requirements Matrices are one of the best business proposal ideas for ensuring you get to present your offering in the best possible light – regardless of preferred or mandated layouts.
If you didn’t come to this page from the proposal design module of the FREE Business Proposal Course then check out that great resource for more more great business proposal ideas.