How to Write Your Proposal for Different Kinds of Readers
Different types of people absorb information in different ways. And people holding different jobs may be looking for different types of information. So when you write a business proposal, you should always consider that it may be read by multiple people, all of whom want to see your information presented in the form that best meets their particular needs. You can improve your odds of success by making a conscious effort to appeal to the different types of readers discussed below.
The Executive – The “Executive Summary” section in a proposal is targeted precisely to this person. A top level executive may only read the Executive Summary at the start of the proposal to judge whether or not to consider your proposal at all. Make it clear how your ideas will benefit the client, that you have a detailed plan to deliver on your promises, and that you are the best pick to complete the project or deliver your products or services.
If the potential clients you want to pitch to seem less formal than CEOs or top-level officials of a major corporation, you may want to use a more informal Client Summary page. But the point is that for this type of top-level person, you need to precisely and succinctly summarize all your major points up front. Also, consider using other summary pages throughout your proposal for these readers. If your summaries pass the executive test, then your proposal will likely be handed off to lower level people who will study the rest of the pages and analyze the details.
The Skimmer – Today we all live in an age of information overload, and every business person has less time than ever to sift through a long list of electronic and print documents. Not many people will take hours to read and consider dozens of pages of details, particularly if vital information is buried in lengthy paragraphs of text.
Include enough white space on each page to help readers quickly scan the information there. To appeal to skimmers, break long discussions into multiple short paragraphs, list lots of short bulleted or numbered items, and highlight important phrases with bold colored text.
A reader should be able to visually distinguish the most significant points on each page in your proposal. A well designed proposal kit package will contain many templates with bullet points and bold headings already incorporated into the page design designed for skimmers.
The Manager – This person is concerned with personnel issues. The manager will want to know who is responsible for which task, how long the task will take, what each person’s qualifications are, and so forth. The manager will study your proposal to determine how many people will need to be assigned and how much time it will take to accomplish a project.
A proposal kit package will contain many templates to describe personnel, teams, staff, responsibilities, qualifications, education, experience, resumes as well as issues like liability, training, education, safety and scheduling.
The Number Cruncher – The number cruncher will be most interested in the financial and statistical information in your proposal. Make your financial pages clear and easy to understand by using tables and columns instead of burying numbers in paragraphs. Ensure that your calculations are obvious, take all important factors into account, and double-check that the totals sum up correctly.
A Number cruncher will want to know precisely who is responsible for paying for all aspects of a project, as well as when payments will be made. Include enough information on these pages for the number cruncher to make a decision without having to sort through all the text in the proposal to tease out the financial figures they are looking for.
If you discuss testing, statistics, market share, or prices for goods and services, you may need to explain how you arrived at the numbers you present in your proposal. If you guarantee your financial figures to be accurate for only a limited time, don’t forget to provide that important date or time period.
When you use a proposal kit package, you’ll find many table templates already laid out in which you can insert spreadsheets or numbers. Each finance-related template will come with a matching pre-designed spreadsheet to help you calculate your numbers correctly. A good proposal kit will contain many templates to describe all of this numerical information.
The Detail Person – The detail-oriented person will want to see the fine details of the proposal. This person looks for lists of features and benefits, definitions of technical terms used, detailed specifications and project methods, exact timelines, product or service warranties or guarantees, and so on.
All this information should form the body of your proposal after your summary pages. It’s not good enough to simply state that you plan to do a project; you need to describe how, where, and when all tasks will be accomplished, as well as who will perform the tasks, who will provide equipment and supplies, etc. Describe the project milestones and how and when they will be judged as completed. Explain the qualifications of your personnel. Describe similar projects you’ve accomplished, and/or list your clients or awards and referrals you’ve received.
Be sure to provide as many specifics as you can, writing in concrete terms instead of vague generalities. Choose the best way to portray details, which might include figures, charts, and spreadsheets. Whether you are describing a technical project, writing a complex grant application, or pitching any other idea that is project-, service-, or product-related, you need to explain how your client will benefit, how you will accomplish each step of the project, and why the client should have confidence in your ability to successfully complete the project or deliver on your promises.
A good proposal kit package will contain hundreds of appropriate templates where you can insert all the specifics you need to describe the benefits of your proposal as well as how you plan to fulfill all your promises and why the client should have confidence in your ability.
No reader likes to search through dozens of pages to locate bits and pieces of crucial information. One of the keys to writing a successful proposal is crafting a well structured document that allows all types of readers to easily find the information they want. Make sure all the sections have appropriate descriptive titles that are listed in a complete Table of Contents so everyone can quickly navigate through your proposal.
Starting with a pre-designed proposal kit package designed to automatically organize and format your proposal to appeal to all of these types of readers, all within the same document is the best way to start. You’ll find all the types of templates mentioned above, as well as automatically generated Tables of Contents and graphic designs for a clean and consistent look on every page.
An organized and structured proposal that appeals to everyone who will read it is a key factor in writing winning proposals. People will do business with people they trust and giving the right people the right information the way they want to see it will generate trust in you to deliver on what you are proposing.
The Author, Ian Lauder, has been helping small businesses and individuals write their proposals and contracts for over a decade. For more tips and best practices when writing your business proposals and legal contracts: Visit https://www.proposalkit.com
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