Anatomy of a Proposal – Presenting the Solution

When writing a business proposal Executive Summary we suggest the following flow to the structure of this part of your sales document:

- What’s the requirement?
- What’s the ideal solution?
- How does your solution solve the buyer’s problems?

An Executive Summary is like a mini-proposal, so when you respond to an RFP (request for proposal) you will have the opportunity to answer the first two questions in more depth. So in your proposal section \”Our understanding of your requirement\” you can demonstrate your understanding (the need or problem) of the client’s business issues. Only when this is identified and clarified can you go onto present a solution to the problem. This is the real \”sales document\” part of your proposal where you set out how you will meet the requirement and solve client problems.

The way you structure this section and write your tender or bid (and it’s sub-sections) depends on the kind of product or service you are providing and also the way that the RFP requires you to respond. However, whatever the specific content, the key to writing winning proposals is to ensure your solution focuses on how you solve the client’s business need.

The aim is to present a solution so compelling that the client believes that you are uniquely capable of delivering the contract. It’s not enough to say ‘we can do it’ – this is the time to say ‘we can do it’, ‘this is how’ we do it and ‘this is what makes our solution different, and better, than the competition’. This is the time to present and expand on your win themes developed in your Bid Capture Plan or Account Management Strategy.

In your win themes always:

- Pick your competitive advantages that are important to the client
- Emphasise the value to the client
- Back them up with evidence
- Use them in your business proposal
- Use win themes to present your differentiators within the context of your solution and back them up with evidence.

In many cases a table of compliance can be included. This useful when there are detailed and specific requirements listed in the RFP and it provides a visual reference to the buyer that they can refer to.

It is important that if you submit a table of compliance that you are compliant! You can be sure that your competitors will be. There are two reasons not to be compliant and submitting:

- You have a superior alternative that doesn’t impact on the remainder of the requirement
- The requirement is not mandatory and the rest of your solution demonstrates your superiority

However remember that non-compliance can often lead to an early exit from the procurement process. If you are thinking of submitting a non-compliant bid, then first talk with the client and ask them if they will be happy to accept it.