Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Writing Profession Series- The Proposal Writer Part I

It's week 3 of the Writing Profession Series and I'm learning tons! How about you??
This week it's all about Proposal Writer's!! Now proposal writing is a huge topic...
So, without further adieu I'm turning this over to the expert. My guest today is Phoenix Sullivan, author, animal lover, farm owner, and extremely experienced proposal writer. Let's just say, she knows the job details intimately. Take it away Phoenix!

Mix one part technical writer with two parts copywriter, add a dash of the creative and you’ve whipped up a proposal writer.

What’s A Proposal?

Companies wishing to buy equipment in bulk or to have certain services performed solicit bids from contractors who in turn audition for the work. Some bids, such as for window washing or providing one or two printers for an office, are uncomplicated. The contractor sends the potential customer some marketing brochures and price lists and lets the customer choose their own solution.

More complicated services, such as designing and building a new headquarters or installing and maintaining a network system for 60,000 employees worldwide, often require a team of differently skilled people to:

• Meet with the customer

• Understand the results expected

• Design a solution that meets those expectations at a competitive price

• Present the solution in a clear and compelling written proposal

• Negotiate the close

Proposals are often written by committee. For large, complicated deals, the proposal team might consist of :

• Salespeople who will ensure the language of the proposal is geared toward the customer’s specific needs and focuses on how the proposed solution addresses what the customer values most, be it cost, how fast the work can be done, or service after the sale

• Technical people who will flesh out the details of the proposal with specifics on timelines, what products will be used and how exactly the solution will be put together and delivered

• Financial and marketing folk who will ensure the price is competitive enough to win the business while still being profitable for the contractor

• Proposal writers to add the magic it takes to put the benefits, features and costs of the solution together in a way that tells a compelling and persuasive story that strikes the perfect balance between sales and marketing language and that keeps the customer’s concerns front and center
The Proposal Document
The format of the proposal itself is usually dictated by the customer who might provide a template of questions to be answered by all the contractors who are bidding. There might be word count limitations imposed. For especially complex services, there might be several sections requiring multiple teams of experts working on their own sections simultaneously.
Depending on the services being proposed and the customer’s guidelines for the document, a proposal can run anywhere from 2 or 3 pages to several hundred. And when the government is the customer, page counts can be pushed into the thousands.

One constant you can count on is that the customer will provide a hard deadline for delivering that’s impossibly short and that will be met with only seconds to spare. Be prepared to deal with high stress and short tempers.
Whoa... and Phoenix worked as a proposal writer! Whoo, a song comes to mind.
"She works hard for the money!"
I have to say that being a technical writer alone is intimidating at times. I can only image the pressure that comes with proposals. Obviously proposal writer's are required to be a jack of all trades when it comes to knowing the business they work for.
In my opinion there are some things to consider:
-You should probably have an experienced background in whatever product or field you are going to be conducting proposal writing for. Example: I wouldn't want to write proposals for farm equpiment. I know jack diddly about farming.
-Formatting and editing skills are most likely required. The way Phoenix describes it, a proposal writer is the one who ultimately formulates the pitch. Typos and bad grammar will get poor results for sure.
-Short or long, creative flair is a must. Proposal writer's have to make the idea sound delicious.
-Based on the fact that a proposal writing could combine the work of multiple entities, you have to be able to pull the important pieces together.

Okay, so proposal writing is detail oriented and very demanding. What do you need to become one and what are the benefits?
Stop by tomorrow for Part II of The Proposal Writer.

Big thanks to Phoenix for being a guest. For those of you wanting to learn more about my wonderful, talented, firey guest visit her blog. Also, Phoenix recently published a wonderful novel called Spoil of War. You can read my review here and if you want to buy this fantastic work of fiction go here! Important tidbit: I'm not the only one mesmerized by Phoenix's tale, check out the other reviews on Amazon... you'll see what I mean.

No comments:

Post a Comment