In this article we will outline how to write a business proposal in Nigeria. But before we dive into how to write a business proposal let’s clear up some ambiguity between a Business Plan and a Business Proposal.
The terminology in business planning has become rather blurred. Technically a business plan is an internal document which analyses and plans the forward strategy of a business.
It details what the business wants to achieve and outlines a clear road map on how to achieve it over a definite timeline. It should be continually updated and amended as the business grows.
This ensures the strategy is relevant and the action plan is effective in implementing the strategy.
A business proposal is an external looking document for a specific purpose for the business.
It could be to:
- Attract a new partner or director
- Propose a joint venture
- Acquire a new company
- Sell your own company
- Tender for new business or contracts
There are many other purposes for a business proposal outside the scope of this article. But you get the idea – it is generally outwardly focussed.
Unless you are looking to attract a new business partner or acquire a business the majority of business proposals will relate to the tendering for contracts.
It is usually used to answer a Request For Proposal in relation to a contract or business opportunity, commonly known as an RFP.
The rules on how to write a business proposal vary depending on who has requested it. For example, if your business is responding to a government agency then you must align with the guidelines of the Federal Acquisition Regulator or comparative government requirements for your specific geography.
In the case of tendering for a contract the customer sets the rules of composition and layout of how to write a business proposal.
They should specify exactly what they require in the proposal in order to evaluate your proposition.
This could include:
The product volume
The service level expectation
Term of the contract
Specifications or structure of contract
This is the ideal scenario but in business it is rarely the case. RFP’s can be very general in nature once released to the market for tender.
This makes the process of how to write a business proposal extremely challenging. It is imperative that you put yourself in the customer’s shoes when tackling how to write a business proposal.
Then you will meet their specific needs and maximise the success of your bid.
How to write a Business Proposal to meet Customer Needs
Try and speak to the customer before the tender is released to gain an understanding of their business strategy and the specific business milestones they are trying to achieve. T
his information will be much more forthcoming when there is not a formal RFP in the market. If you know they are going to tender, it will give you insight on how to write a business proposal that will meet their strategic needs and improve your chances of success.
Giving the customer what you think they will need rather than what they want is guaranteed to result in failure. By getting to know the customer before the tender process you will build up a greater level of understanding around how the current contract tender fits into their overall business model.
This will enable you to demonstrate a greater level of insight into their business and improve the chances of your business proposal standing out among other bidders.
Bear in mind that each business proposal will be evaluated based on set criteria and your bid must tick all the boxes to win.
Imagine you have issued an RFP and have forty business proposals on your desk for your management team to review. What would you be looking for amongst all of those documents?
You basically want the bidder to explain in concise terms:
- Who will be doing the work (company, director experience)
- What needs to be done (What product or service they offer)
- Where it will be done (location, delivery method efficiency)
- How work will be done (processes, service levels)
- When it will be done (timeline, plan of milestones to deliver)
- Why select them (Why they meet your needs)
We have seen hundreds of RFP’s in our career’s and it is amazing how many companies don’t consider these factors when thinking about how to write a business proposal.
The list above is a way of thinking about things from the viewpoint of the customer. If you ask these questions when answering their request you are much more likely to answer the questions the customer that really matter.
How To Write A Business Proposal – What Sections To Include?
When thinking about how to write a business proposal in Nigeria, this section should introduce your company and its track record of completing similar jobs.
State what you will deliver to the company in terms of your overall product or service offering. Highlight synergies or complimentary factors which align your business proposal with the customer’s business.
What makes your business’ bid stand out? What can you offer them that the other bidders can’t?
Product or Service Description
Describe exactly what your product or service does and the main features and benefits to the customer. Emphasize why the offering will meet the needs of the customer and include a clear plan outlining your operational processes and how they are effective.
Comment on quality control standards and customer service levels over the term of the contract. Support this statement with examples of previous work.
This could simply be by providing links to your website.
Detail the management capabilities and your organisational approach. Outline the key milestones that must be met in order to deliver the product or service to the customer on time and to their specifications.
Providing a schedule of delivery for your offering allows the customer to evaluate whether your product and service levels are satisfactory.
This demonstrates that the delivery approach of your business aligns with the RFP requirements.
Human Resource Management
State how your business allocates resources to meet contract service levels and how the product or service is managed from end to end.
This provides comfort that your business has the staffing capabilities to handle the contract and potentially manage future contracts.
Many RFP’s are vague on the structure of the contract and merely state what product or service they want and for how long.
This could provide an opportunity to find creative solutions to service the customer that they may not have considered. Obviously if the RFP is definitive in its structure then you must follow that in order to meet their needs.
Always be mindful of structuring opportunities that present win-win solutions.
This could involve flexible pricing; staggered contract terms with step down pricing linked to volume. It could even include discount ancillary services with your business that will complement their business model if they select your business proposal.
If you take nothing else away from this article then remember that when thinking about how to write a business proposal in Nigeria always consider the customer’s needs first. It is the difference between success and failure.
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