If your proposals are taking days or weeks to write, it’s no wonder your business is struggling. As you run the numbers and weigh your options, physical cost should be a major consideration, but it’s not the only thing. In fact, time may actually be the toughest cost for your business to manage when it comes to writing proposals.
A speedy proposal is often the difference between getting the bid and being passed over for another candidate. It’s not that your proposal didn’t offer the client what they wanted, but the client received another proposal first, which slightly diminished the value of your proposal. Many clients give more weight to the promptness of a proposal delivery than they may realize.
When your proposal is the first in the queue, this ensures the potential client will read it with fresh eyes and an open mind. They’re more likely to see your proposal for its strengths, and it will become the standard against which all other proposals are compared. Weaknesses are more difficult to see when there are no other proposals to which one may compare.
Unfortunately, the average turnaround time for the proposal process is pretty slow. It will be different for every project, depending on the complexity and client expectations, but it can take as long as several weeks for a proposal to be drafted and submitted. That’s a lot of time lost to other proposers looking to swoop in and steal your client!
The good news is there are several things you can do to speed up your proposal-writing process and be the first in line. Here are a few.
Set a Hard Deadline
A major reason the proposal process takes so long for many businesses is soft or non-existent deadlines. Often, the proposal-writing team is instructed to “get it done as soon as possible,” or “turn it in within the next three weeks.” Such instructions are sufficiently vague they remove much of the urgency and priority status of the process.
So you should set a hard, specific deadline that will motivate your team to action. It’s much easier to prioritize the process if you say it should be turned in by the end of the day Friday than if you simply give a generic, non-specific date in the future.
Clarify Roles and Responsibilities at the Beginning
Before you do any writing, brainstorm with your team. Delegate responsibilities to each team member, and define who is responsible for coming up with the numbers, who will do the writing, who will do the proofreading, and so on. Give each “mini project” a deadline that fits within the time frame you already specified.
This brainstorming meeting is essential for eliminating redundancies and inefficient, time-wasting practices. When everyone knows what should be done, they’ll act calmly and quickly, thus enabling your team to meet the deadline without issue.
Draft a Template
Once you’ve set your deadline(s), it’s time to fill your proposal with the right stuff. A template can be useful here. Typically, you’ll want to prepare the template before you receive a request for a proposal (RFP) so it becomes easy to fill in the blanks and submit a polished, well-formatted document.
The actual content of the proposal will, of course, differ with each scenario, but setting up a general outline to follow can make the process go much more quickly with each RFP.
A typical template might include the following sections:
Table of contents
Body or content
List of references
You can alter your template to match the needs of your traditional clients best, but this is a solid list to get you started.
Invest in CPQ Software
You can make the text of the proposal sound polished, professional, and attractive, but the client’s decision will almost always come down to the numbers. As companies seek to make precise projections of the cost involved, this can significantly slow down the writing process.
Because this is arguably the most important part of the proposal, writers may take their time in making sure the numbers come out correctly. However, that’s an unnecessary task when you have configure, price, quote (CPQ) software at your disposal.
It’s easy to give efficient and accurate price projections for any proposal without slowing down the writing process. Use of this software can shave days off your typical writing process.
Write Without Looking Back
When it comes time to write the actual proposal, painstakingly typing each sentence and correcting errors as you go can waste a lot of time. This is inefficient and unnecessary.
It’s often much better to write straight through the first draft without dithering over word choice or comma placements. Once the entire document is typed, then you can focus on proofreading and making it sound more professional. You’ll find it’s a much faster process to separate writing and proofreading into two processes.
Slow Down During the Editing Process
This may sound counterintuitive, but it’s an essential part of delivering a great proposal. Your goal is to draft the entire document quickly so all your ideas are on paper, which will almost always result in a messy document.
That’s where the editing phase comes in. A polished, well-worded document is vital for a successful proposal. Typically, there are four stages of editing you’ll want to undergo:
Content Editing: Does everything make sense? Is all the information there? Does it speak to your audience? Does it fit the needs of both the company and the client? Are your points well supported? Are the numbers accurate?
Copyediting: Are there awkward sentences? Are things written correctly? Do the sentences and paragraphs make sense? Are there needless words and redundancies that keep it from reading smoothly?
Proofreading: Is grammar and punctuation handled correctly? Does it have a professional and polished tone?
Format Review: Does everything appear correctly on the page? (This includes font types/sizes, margins, captions, page numbers, headings, headers/footers, logos, graphics, etc.).
When you approach the editing process with organization, the process goes much more quickly, and the result is higher-quality work.
Try iQuoteXpress CPQ Software Today!
Our CPQ software is exactly what you need to deliver a fast and accurate proposal. We understand your company can suffer from the amount of money lost through wasted time, so our software is easy to use and always accurate to ensure you deliver a great proposal every time.
To try a free, no-obligation online demo of our software, contact us today!