Whether you are in a service-based profession or you sell products and you’re trying to secure more high-volume clients, creating a solid proposal may be the difference between job feast and famine. And if you’re in a position like me, where your clients generally need you for only limited periods of time, then you have to be able to sell yourself over and over again in a way that turns prospective clients into paying customers.
Here are seven ways to do that by helping you craft a job proposal that has a greater chance of being accepted by the person or business you hope to make your next client:
Get Clear on What Your Potential Client Wants
I’ve been involved in the hiring process in a few different positions that I’ve held over time, and I am always shocked by the number of people who submit an application without knowing what it is they are applying for. If you aren’t going to take the time to read what it is I want, then why would I ever want to hire you?
This is why it is important to thoroughly understand what it is your potential client seeks. Pay attention to any specifics that are provided in the job post or request for a proposal and be ready to address them so that the person or company knows that you are clear on their expectations.
If any important specifications aren’t addressed or are missing, ask about them. The more you know, the more complete your proposal can be, increasing the likelihood that you will be the one they choose to hire. Additionally, asking questions shows that you know what you are talking about, which can put you ahead of your quiet competitor.
Be the Solution to their Problem
Obviously, if the person or company requesting the proposal is looking for products or services, they have a problem that needs to be solved. Finding out what that problem is, then, is key to making sure that you are the solution they are looking to find.
Keep your eyes and ears open for statements that suggest the values that are most important to them. For instance, are they after price or quality? Have they provided stories of bad past experiences that give you a glimpse of the points that you can highlight about your small business that show that you won’t create the same types of issues?
Create a Personal Proposal
When you put out a large number of job proposals, it may be tempting to create a boilerplate proposal and just fill in the person or company’s information. However, this approach can backfire because the person reviewing them isn’t going to feel that personal connection, thereby making you less appealing.
If at all possible, try to find out the name of the person that you are going to be submitting your proposal to and use it. Also, repeat some of the specific requirements they’ve listed in their post so that they know that you are speaking directly to them. Speaking of them…
Make Your Proposal About Them
Even though your proposal is about you and your products or services, you will often get better results if you make it about them. This means stating how you can make their life better, easier, or more fun. The more benefits they feel you offer them, the more likely it is that you will be offered the job.
For instance, if you are in marketing, let them know how you can increase their sales. Or, if you sell laundry soap, share how you can save them money since your product uses less than other brands. Paint a picture that helps them see exactly what it is you can do for them.
Set Yourself Apart
When competing against others in your field, you need to set yourself apart or you’re going to get lost in the shuffle. So, how do you stand out in your field? What do you have to offer that others in your area don’t?
For example, Elance.com is a writing platform that I use to secure a decent number of writing jobs. However, when submitting a proposal, I am competing against over 428,000 freelance writers and writing services.
My spot on the list when ranked from highest to lowest? Number 166. You can bet I am going to share that detail when submitting a proposal in an effort to improve my chances of getting the job.
Validate Your Pricing
If you are on the higher end of the pricing spectrum, you may be in a position where you need to validate your price point. This is where you reveal the ways in which your products or services are superior. Get them to see value in what you have to offer and they won’t mind paying a slightly higher amount.
Provide a High Quality Portfolio
Writing a winning proposal is great, but providing a high quality portfolio puts some action behind your words. It actually shows the person that you can back up your claims and aren’t just sharing your opinion that you know what you are doing.
If you have a painting service, for instance, show photos of some of the buildings or offices you remodeled. Or if you build machinery, take pictures of some of them so the person can see firsthand the quality of your workmanship. Essentially, you are letting your work speak for you.
A Word About Winning Government Contracts
One of my writing clients is constantly able to win government contract proposals for her international shipping business. This allows her to not only garner more business for herself, but it also helps her better serve her clients who are also working to secure some government contracts themselves, thus using her for their shipping needs.
However, if it is government contracts you’re after, you need to know that there are certain steps you must follow when registering for government contracting. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, here are some to consider:
- Obtaining a Duns & Bradstreet Number
- Registering your small business with SAM (System of Award Management)
- Locating your North American Industry Classification System code
- Requesting Past Performance Evaluations
From there, you can go online and search government jobs to see which jobs are available.
Now, get out there and get more clients by using these tips. And if you have any other tips, feel free to provide them below. I’d love to know your secrets to job proposal success!