We've now done some learning and thinking about the new opportunity, and are ready to make a proposal to the client about how we could work with them on it.

First, let's remember our principles for building new client relationships. Consider those in the way we approach this proposal.

Second, remember that we cannot sensibly set out the actual resulting solution in any proposal now. That would be pretending that we magically know everything, including the client's business and users, better than they themselves do, and that we have a wizard's ability to predict the future obstacles and opportunities. The true outcomes will be developed together in a collaborative way. What we do have is a really solid process for navigating to a great end result, and the expertise to deliver all the steps. It's that process and expertise that the client needs to buy, not what we pretend to see in some crystal ball now.

Developing our Proposal

At a very high level, our proposal should set out:

  1. Our current understanding and assessment of the client's current and desired situations, and the gap between the two

  2. Our approach, and the process and tools we have to support that

  3. Our recommendations

  4. Evidence to demonstrate our expertise and professionalism, and support our recommendations

  5. The story of working together - what's going to happen if they appoint us?

Steps To Take

  1. Organise a proposal workshop with the team from Convivio and partners.

  2. At the workshop create a 'storyboard' for the proposal (that's the template, a copy will be in the Proposing folder of the Opportunity folder on Google Drive). Create a big version on the wall if meeting in person, and then just capture notes here. This shows each part of the story we need to tell, taking into account what the client has asked for, what we should cover (see 'developing our proposal' above), and particularly any questions we think the client needs a positive answer to in order to decide there is a good match.

  3. Plan the writing of the proposal, and allocate tasks. Make sure time is booked out in Float (internal link) to work on this.

  4. Write the first draft of the proposal

Written Proposal

Sometimes clients set out a strict format for proposals. Their intention is to make it easy for them to compare different suppliers, and score against set criteria. We won't go into all the ways it leads to the wrong outcomes here, but we have to find a good balance between the two — as will be the case with the working practices of both organisations when we collaborate on the project itself.

At an early stage we should speak to our contact there to see if we can submit in our own format without procurement scoring being an issue. If not, we should just write our normal proposal, then work through theirs and fit our proposal into their sections. Next we should review the proposal in their format to see if there are any gaps that could result in scoring problems, and fill these in. When we submit we should submit their version, and also our version, with an explanation.

We use Pandadoc (internal link) for creating and collaborating on our written proposals. Create the proposal in there using the Convivio template, and content from the library where suitable. Do add new content you create, that could be reused in future, to the library.

Presentation of Proposal

The written proposal will contain the detail. In the presentation we want to focus on the key parts, and tell more stories to support them. Review the storyboard, and decide which sections we should focus on most. What case studies should we present? What stories can we tell? What can we show them in terms of our process and tools?

We should also use this as a chance to ask great questions.

Once we've presented our proposal we move to the agreeing stage.

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