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Business proposal format – start with a winning structure

  A successful business proposal format begins with a compelling framework – a structure for your proposal that sells your ideas and solutions. This section introduces the Winning proposal framework – a structure that will maximize the success of every proposal you write in future. Let’s Talk Proposals Too many people get caught up in thinking too much about the specifics of different businesses proposal formats – forgetting the purpose of their proposals – to establish a dialogue with their prospect readers. If, instead of writing a proposal, you were having a one-on-one conversation with your client, trying to sell your superior solution to their requirements, you would very likely make the points outlined in this greatly condensed conversation: ‘We understand your requirement inside out, and we have designed a great solution that meets every part of that requirement. Here’s why that solution will have so much value to your organization. We will deliver all of these benefits for a cost of just…Oh, and by the way, I have detailed information to prove every one of the claims I just made – here it is…’ The most effective business proposal format establishes precisely this dialogue with their readers, and that’s why the Winning proposal structure is based upon it. Each element of this conversation suggests a section essential to every business proposal: “We understand your requirements inside out” The first thing you absolutely must establish for your client is that you understand their requirements inside out; that you have as detailed an appreciation of what they are trying to achieve as they do themselves (perhaps even better than they... read more


Want to know how to write a book?  This is the fourth post in a series that provides you with a step-by-step approach to writing a business book that will enhance your personal brand – without any need for putting your life on hold while you do so. The first post was a general introduction to the series on how to write a book.   The second post introduced Step 1 in the process of developing your book and walked you through setting up a ‘war room’ for the development of your book.  The next post got you started on compiling the ideas that your book will present – Step 2 in the book development process.  Step 2 gave you a basic idea of what your book will tell your readers. I recommend that you read all of the first three posts before you work through Step 3. In Step 3, ‘Create Your Chapters’, we are going to go all the way from a mass of roughly sorted ideas to a first look at your book’s basic content organized into chapters. Step 3: Create Your Chapters Step 3 consists of five actions: 1. Sort your topic groups into logical chapters. Each of your chapters will consist of multiple topics – collect your topic groups into logical chapter groups.  For now, simply separate the collection of topic groups for each chapter into separate areas in your war room.  2. Organize your topic groups in run order (the order in which they will be presented in your book).  Working one chapter at a time, simply organize the topic groups so that they flow from left... read more


Since the global economy started going pear-shaped at the back end of 2008 all of your people have taken a beating and, even if they choose not to show it to you, their egos are bruised, their self-worth is seriously hammered, and their self-esteem and confidence is at its lowest ebb for many years. Do you want to have any chance of engaging them in helping you get the results you need to thrive in this challenging economy? Then YOU have to help them fix that – now! There has never been a more important time than now for you, a leader, to validate your people. As I started writing this post I did what I always do as I write – I Googled my topic. I hit this powerful short film within three results of the top. Watch it – and you’ll see why it ranks so highly with the search engines (how come this was around since 2007 and I didn’t stumble across it before?!) The best communication pieces tell you what you realize you already knew to be true – but probably hadn’t realized. This short film does just that – it reminds you of the incredible power of something as simple as identifying, and then recognizing, the particular strengths of each of your people. If you’re short on time just watch the first 3 minutes for the message. POWerful! If you’ve 16 minutes and need a smile and a little old-fashioned sentimental ‘feel-good’ then go for the whole film! So, how do you as a leader become a Hugh Newman (the film’s hero) to your... read more


Writing a book will enhance your career prospects and dramatically enhance your personal brand. This is the last in an 8-post series on how to write a book – without putting your life on hold. If you’ve stumbled across this post without reading the previous posts, I’d strongly suggest you check out the first seven posts in the series on how to write a book – starting with the introduction to the series. Here are the last three steps in the process I have used to write my own books: 1. Build in Transitions Transitions are words or phrases used to smooth the borders between one idea and another, one statement and another, one section and another. They include words and phrases like “therefore”, “happily”, “consequently”, “however”, “yet”, “nevertheless”, etc., or can be questions like “but how is this achieved?” or “why is this?”.  There are many more examples of transitions here.  Every idea or point that you present should lead readers towards the next point, should encourage them to continue to read and follow the line of your argument. Quite apart from saving them effort, good transitions also ensure that readers do not make the wrong connection between the various points that you are presenting. Begin to read through the sections of your outline.  Consider how easily you are drawn from idea to idea, how each idea fits under its heading. You will find many ideas which present themselves as isolated paragraphs nestling under your remaining headings. Consider the message which the heading suggests this section will convey and begin to build transitions between each of the separate ideas... read more


Want to know how to write a book that will raise your profile and give your career a serious boost? This is the sixth post in this series. If you haven’t already done so I suggest you read the first five posts from the introduction on how to write a book. In completing Step 4, ‘Refining Your Book’, you ended up with your book’s structure clearly laid out on your War Room walls – that was your last formal planning step.   Step 5 is the first step in actually writing your book’s content. Step 5 – Create a Formal Outline “Outlining” is a critical book writing skill – it will make your writing faster and much more effective and is one of the best protections against one of the greatest of all writer’s enemies – ‘writer’s block’. Once again in this post to illustrate key points I am using a business proposal example taken from my book ‘Winning Business Proposals’.   A well written proposal is written in exactly the same manner as a well written book. Figure 1 is an extract from a proposal where the proposal has been ‘collapsed’ so that you can no longer see the body text of the proposal, instead all that is visible are the headings – this is an outline. It is clear that there are six sections in this proposal – in your book those sections will be your chapters.   Look at Section 2 where the various headings and sub-headings haven’t been collapsed. Isn’t it interesting that even in the absence of the body text, even though all you... read more


Selling In Tough Times – I Deals are stalled; business decisions slow in coming – your sales forecast looks a little shaky. We have all been afflicted to some extent by the knock-on effect of the recent economic slowdown on pending sales decisions. Your products and services are still as good as they ever were – or even better, right? You’re still doing all the right things you ever did to close business and yet it’s just not happening for you the way it did before the economy dipped. A famous definition of insanity describes it as “doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting a different result”. If you’re still trying to sell the same people the same propositions as you did in the good times then the economy may have made you a little temporarily crazy– let’s get sane together! I don’t know it all – but in this three-instalment series of posts I’m happy to share what I’m doing with my teams to get on top of this challenge. First, I suggest giving your sales funnel a makeover before investing any more sales time and energy – identify your best opportunties and then focus upon them, and them alone.  STEP 1: CLEAN UP YOUR SALES FORECAST Take a hard look at all of the opportunities on your current sales forecast – be ready to be very critical in qualifying their likelihood of becoming real business. Categorise every opportunity under one of these three headings: 1. Business that can be won in the short/medium term if the right things are done These are the opportunities where there... read more

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