Once you find a prospect your next step is turning them into a customer.  In the IT world (as well as most other lines of business) this is done through a proposal.  Therefore, writing proposals is a significant facet of growing a business.  There is no black magic involved in this process; we just need some common sense.

A Process for Writing Proposals

Our focus on every project should be solving a problem or a group of them.  Thus, the first step in our process for writing proposals is to fully define the problem or problems at hand.  We can go off and try to figure it out on our own, but the customer is the best source for this information.  Work with your customer to learn their pain points, and then repeat those back in your own words.  When you take this approach, it helps them think more about the problem and dig deeper into specifics.

Once you have the problems defined deep enough, share your understanding using your words.  Do not parrot back the problem description.  The goal is to ensure you (and the customer) understand the problem and how to communicate the details.

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Stay Focused

Treat the problem definition as your foundation or cornerstone.  As you create a solution, every facet of the solution should point back to that problem definition.  This approach will help you avoid drift and useless bells and whistles.  Keep your focus tight during the proposal phase.  Those bells and whistles can always be reviewed with the customer after you have won the project.  Do not take this approach as a form of bait and switch.  Instead, you are proposing a sort of minimally viable product, and then they can add on later.  That will allow them to be very aware of the cost of those additional features.

Polishing Touches

Once you have your content prepared, it is time to write the proposal.  It is helpful to start by introducing yourself.  Provides some reasons why you are a good fit for this project.  After that light sales content move into the problem definition.  It should be clear to any reader what the goal of the project is.  The next step is to provide a summary of the proposed solution.  Do not go deep into details.  Leave this as a summary of the approach you will take.  This proposal is not a design document.  Wrap up with timing and costs.  If you are going to produce a more detail proposal after the design phase, then mention that.  A project is more likely to be successful if expectations have been adequately set from the start.

Learn more in the book written for Develpreneurs at any stage in their progress:  https://www.amazon.com/Source-Code-Happiness-Finding-Success-ebook/dp/B07MKZBF6R



Rob Broadhead

Rob is a founder of, and frequent contributor to, Develpreneur. This includes the Building Better Developers podcast. He is also a longtime student of technology as a developer, designer, and manager of software solutions. Rob is a founder and principle of RB Consulting and has managed to author a book about his family experiences.In his free time, he stays busy raising five children (although a few have grown into adults). When he has a chance to breathe, he is on the ice playing hockey to relax.

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