Shooting Your Best Shot:
How to Write a Winning Business Big or Proposal

Show us a business owner who doesn’t want to win a big bid from a new client, and we’ll show you a business owner who doesn’t exist! Everyone in business has to compete for and secure new clients or customers in order to keep the revenue flowing and stay in business.

For some, this means acquiring new business through strategic advertising and marketing to the masses. For others, this means writing specific proposals that pitch who they are and what they do to potential new clients with the hopes that they will be selected to provide them with the products and services they seek.

If you’ve ever written a business bid or proposal to attract a new client, you know first-hand that it’s not for the faint at heart. It takes a solid investment of time, energy and optimism in order to be successful. Without any one of these present, you’ll be about as successful at proposal writing as Trump was at winning a second term.

In today’s post-Covid business climate, competition for business is fierce. When a call for bids or proposals is disseminated, hungry business owners pounce on the opportunity to shoot their best shot. In order for your shot to be the game-changing winning one, you’ve got to put some real strategy into the bid writing process.


Read the RFP carefully.
The Request for Proposal (RFP) is an announcement for a new project that outlines the opportunity, lists the requirements and terms, and invites businesses to submit a document proposing why they should be selected for the opportunity to meet the organization’s product or service needs. Read the RFP very carefully (over and over again!) to ensure that you meet all of the criteria and that you submit all of the information required for a complete proposal.

Clarify things that are unclear.
If something in the RFP is unclear and could potentially be interpreted multiple ways, simply reach out to the client and ask them to clarify. Nothing can derail all of the time and effort you put into a proposal than to make an assumption about what should be submitted and be wrong. Clients welcome questions about the RFP. After they answer your question directly, they will often post or send out an update that clarifies for others the items about which you inquired.

Research, research, research!
If you submit a bid or proposal without doing any research, you might as well consider it dead on arrival. This is because you likely operated off of a lot of assumptions rather than validating your assumptions through research. Winning bids and proposals are written against a backdrop of well-researched facts, not assumptions or opinions. Be sure to research the values and priorities of the client, who they have awarded business to in the past and why, and all of the other nuances that can make the difference in what you write and how you write it in the proposal.

Eliminate the fluff.
A bid or proposal does not win a contract based on its length or wordiness; it wins based on its relevance. Every word in the proposal should have an intended purpose: to sell the client on your ability to meet their needs with efficiency and excellence through the provision of your products or services. Anything else that does not directly drive this agenda should be eliminated from the proposal. Just like your teachers who read your term papers, clients who read your proposals can tell when you’re BSing with a bunch of words.

Get a reviewer.
There’s nothing like a second set of eyes – or two, or five – to add some quality control to your proposal or bid process. Be sure that they are proficient with catching errors in grammar and punctuation and that they can give you feedback on the organization and clarity of your thoughts. Provide them with a copy of the RFP to constantly reflect on as they go through your proposal to ensure that your content is aligned with what is requested in the RFP. Most of all, if you trust them enough to select them as a reviewer, listen to their feedback and make the necessary changes. It could mean the difference between winning a game-changing contract and being kept on the bench for the season.