You have an amazing idea that you know will shake the industry. You have done the research, and this only goes to confirm your suspicions. Now, your idea sounds even better! Anyone could sponsor you will be much better off with your idea. However, the problem happens when you need to present it to people who could potentially help you.
If you have never had to present your idea, then you do not know just how hard the whole process can be. There are countless projects which failed because people just didn’t know how to make an attractive sales pitch out of them. This is why today we take a look at how to write a project proposal clients cannot refuse!
What is a project proposal?
First, before we even start creating a way to “market” our project, we need to look at what a proposal actually is. Unfortunately, there are different definitions of it, depending on what kind of template – and for which purpose – you are writing your project. However, we will look at these later in this article.
In general, a project proposal is a part of the project execution planning process. It is meant to showcase what the core values of your project are – what you stand for and what you want to achieve with it.
Project proposals are valuable for multiple reasons
This is the best way to sell your project, both to the stakeholders as well as internally, within your company. What’s more, you use a project proposal to set up the goals of your team. You should work with them on the expectations and the priorities and put them in the outline. This way, you will also help organize your resources, both when it comes to the people on the team and the budget and resources you will need.
However, the first attribute – selling your idea – is the most important. After all, without it, you cannot run your project! And thus, just like in every commerce industry, you need to write a project proposal clients cannot refuse.
First, you will want to grab their attention. You need to make sure that your project proposal is intriguing, and something that everyone who reads it can get behind. However, it also needs to push towards the shareholders’ goals. In the end, they are looking at their bottom line, and will only support you if you do not hurt it. So, your project needs to both excite and inform people, but this can be a bit difficult line to walk.
How do you achieve this balance?
The best way in which you can write a project proposal clients cannot refuse is to get into their heads. Try to think in the way that they will – this is called “knowing your audience”. What are your clients’ goals and expectations? If you were them, what would you want to see in a project proposal?
Also, it’s a smart idea to try and predict their questions. This way, you will answer before they even ask them, and show that you put effort into doing this, which they will appreciate. Remember, meeting their needs is your goal – so make sure you do it as best as you can.
These are some of the questions you might be answering. They will also be good to ponder about when writing your own project proposal, too:
• What problem are you trying to solve with your project?
• Do you already have any resources you can work with?
• Who is in your team, what is your budget and what does your timeline look like?
• How can your clients benefit from your project?
• In what way are you going to measure success of the project?
• What is the scope of your project, what is its schedule and the costs?
What are some general elements of a good project proposal?
As you can see, there are certain expectations that people will have from you when presenting their project.
Meeting these will bring you many benefits. What’s more, you might have noticed that these are some common elements – no matter how you format the project.
First, you will want to create your summary short and to the point. Feature the problem you are trying to solve, the way in which you will solve it and what that process will look like. Think about it as an elevator pitch. If you have never heard this phrase, then imagine you are presenting your idea in an elevator. By the time your client reaches their floor, they should decide to stay in the elevator listening to you. So be concise and hook them carefully.
What to do when your clients are hooked?
Once you have done that, you can delve into the background and inner-workings of the project. You will want to share your previous experiences at this time. Make sure you mention both successful and those that failed. This shows that you learned and developed from them – and you will use this knowledge in your current project. Show your clients that this one will be much better than the rest!
When you set everything up, you can show your clients how you will approach the project and complete it. Share with your shareholders all the steps you will take, the skills you need to develop and techniques you will use.
Remember, efficiency and productivity are crucial for all projects – so show them that this will happen here, too. Finally, you will want to state who will be making all decisions – and who will sign-off on things.
Close everything up with an appendix. This is the actual “meat and bone” of the project. Here you will list all the materials you are using and the resources you will need. Basically, this is what you will be asking from your shareholders. It goes last so you can hit them with it once they already love your idea.
The different types of project proposals
As we mentioned, there is a variety in project proposals – and they all use different project templates. Here, we will outline six of them. They will all have a different audience that will change your approach to the whole thing. These are the types of projects:
• Formally solicited
• Informally solicited
The difference between formally and informally solicited projects
The formally solicited project is usually the most common one. Clients will give you a Request for Proposal (RFP) which you can then use as a project outline. The structure of the project may vary depending on the RFP, and you will need to tailor it to the client’s specific needs. Luckily, this is easy enough to do – all you need is to follow the outline. In the long run, this will help remove all misunderstandings in your team, and thus boost their efficiency.
On the other hand, the informally solicited projects will have no RFP – which can pose a difficulty. After all, you will not have an outline here. But just as well, you will not need to go into too much detail here. This compensates for the “loose” form of this project proposal.
Unsolicited project proposals
These can be a bit tricky to pull off since the clients will not expect to receive a project proposal. You are using the element of surprise here – the idea comes from “eureka” moments while working with clients or in your team.
However, these are also the most difficult to prepare and write. Your clients do not expect the proposal, so you need to work hard to convince them. You will need to put a lot of work into it, both with researching and writing.
Continuation of a project vs. its renewal
Continuation of a project and its renewal are two distinct things that you might want to do at various project phases. First, the continuation is an update of a project, or it serves to remind your clients about what’s already happening. Luckily, it’s simple to write, since you already have a project, and just need to work on continuing it further. Think of it as touching up on the project or checking-in with the clients. You might use it to change things like funds or correcting something your client was unhappy with.
On the other hand, a project renewal happens when a project has finished, or you have no more resources or support to complete it. In these cases, you will need to prove to your shareholders that starting everything up again will be useful. Sometimes, you might need to change up the resources you used, but the main point will be to convince the shareholders all over again.
Sometimes, however, you need more resources to complete a project even though it is not over. At this time, you need a supplemental project proposal, which you can consider an expansion of the initial project. The main difficulty here is in convincing the shareholders to add resources to an already running project. They might ask you to update the timeline, but you should also use this opportunity to keep in touch with clients again.
What you can work on to write a project proposal clients cannot refuse?
Now that you know all about different project proposals, we can talk about some small ways in which you can boost your project proposal. Using these, no client will be able to refuse your project!
For starters, you need to know how to start. If you manage to catch the clients’ attention, you need to create an amazing hook. This is what they call “starting strong”. Make sure you keep the opening short and that you resonate well with the audience.
Use data and facts to your advantage
Using facts and data is essential, too. Not utilizing these well is the biggest mistake inexperienced people make – but once you know it, you can avoid it. You should never exaggerate – shareholders hate this. Instead, use data to support everything you say. This will be a solid proof that your project will have wide-ranging effects, which shareholders love.
Use SMART solutions and your clients cannot refuse your project proposal
SMART is an important acronym to remember when you are writing a high-quality project proposal. Every solution needs to have five components: it needs to be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound.
We already discussed all of these implicitly in previous paragraphs. However, it’s important to ensure that nothing of these is missing from your project. This will lower the chances of success by a huge margin. For example, the timing can be hard to decide – but the ending point of the project is necessary.
Finally, finish strong to ensure your success
You need to finish your project just like you start it. A lot of people try to perfect their proposal, and then overwork it because of this. It’s important to keep in mind that a proposal needs to be enjoyable to read – just like a book. You will want to tell a story with it, and a story that the shareholders will enjoy.
Imagine that everything is a part of the machine working together to create a smooth and finely-working system. If there is something that doesn’t fit the whole picture, then you simply remove it. Clients have a lot of experience, and they will easily spot something which seems off or doesn’t help the overall picture – and turn the project down.
This of course doesn’t mean you should not be careful about this. Instead, you need to make sure that everything that needs to be there is also there. Be smart about this and always keep it in mind, and you will write a project proposal clients cannot refuse.