Do your employees wonder why they come to work every day? What’s their purpose? What’s the company’s purpose? A Harvard Business Review article1 states that employees who have no sense of purpose, no sense of value, eventually leave.
Likewise, do your clients and prospects understand your purpose?
Your Business Purpose
Without a clear company purpose statement, you risk loss – of new project bids and of existing clients when you’re the incumbent. A purpose statement is different from a mission statement, though many resources tend to combine the two. A purpose is why your company is in business and how you benefit your clients (Smyth2). Your mission states your goals and how you plan to reach them.
But we’re going to put that topic aside for now because a purpose statement also is a requirement for business structuring (Forester 3), and is best left for a more learned and legal consult than I can provide.
Your Proposal Purpose
You probably expend a lot of effort shopping for business – be it new or as an incumbent. What is the purpose of that effort? It should be to win the business.
And, to win the business, your proposals need purpose as well. Proposal guru Tom Sant4 advocates the NOSE method; your proposal purposes should be organized to address:
- Needs: Demonstrate to the client that you understand their needs.
- Outcomes: Explain the results that your client wants to see.
- Solution: Detail your plan to accomplish the outcomes efficiently and cost-effectively.
- Evidence: Provide proof – documented experience about similar successes.
A mountain of marketing-speak does not a purpose make. I’ve seen this tactic and have been managed to write proposals that way. The thought is, “If we just keep telling them how great we are, they’ll believe it and hire us.” The “we’re great” marketing materials usually have a place in attachments.
To provide that information early – or often – can be counter-productive. After all, they’ve invited you to bid. So they probably already know or suspect that you’re good, right? They’ve reviewed your website, read your marketing materials, talked with your business development manager, or been referred to you by people who know your work.
At this point, the real question is, “What makes you THE choice in this situation?”
First and foremost, write to your client. Address their needs and your solutions – your value. A clear company purpose combined with a proposal focused on the client is the best way to be convincing and to WIN!
My colleague, Daniel Maddux, has valuable tips for how to add credibility and polish to your proposals that complement this content. View it on Slideshare: https://www.slideshare.net/EliteDocumentation/4962-elite-apmpfinal
1 Blount, Sally Blount and Leinwand. Paul . 2019. “Why Are We Here?” Harvard Business Review. November-December 2019. Online at https://hbr.org/2019/11/why-are-we-here?utm_source=linkedin&utm_campaign=hbr&utm_medium=social Accessed February 10, 2020.
2 Smyth, Danielle. January 22, 2019. How to Write a Business Purpose Statement. Bizfluent.com. Online at https://bizfluent.com/how-6129266-write-business-purpose-statement.html Accessed February 17, 2020.
3 Forester, Drake. September 3, 2019. Writing Your Business Purpose (And Why It Matters). Score Association. Online at: https://www.score.org/blog/writing-your-business-purpose-and-why-it-matters Accessed February 17, 2020.
4 Tom Sant on the Four Steps to Writing a Winning Business Proposal. April 27, 2012. Online at AMACOM Books. Online at https://amacombooks.wordpress.com/2012/04/27/tom-sant-on-how-to-write-a-winning-business-proposal/ Accessed February 17, 2020.
Contact me for professional guidance during your next commercial proposal submission.
Marlane Kayfes, Technical Writer & Editor
February 17, 2020
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