Definition – Defining the Proposal

The second part of your definition phase is defining the project specifics in a proposal.

By now you have talked to all the buyers you can find. This may have been on one big meeting or in a couple of meetings where you spent the first going through your questions and gathering names and the next being focused on understanding this new batch of buyers and their needs.

The proposal is a synthesis of the information and needs from ALL the buyers.

We used to write really long proposals with a lot of detail about the deliverables. Now we pull the proposal together as a presentation deck. We have cut way back on the size so that we can talk about it in a standard meeting length.

The proposal is divided up into several sections.

The first section is Context.
We confirm the clients current situation. What’s happening now. This information come from the background questions you asked early on in the process. We reiterate this so that we can identify back to the client that we understand what’s happening now and the context within which the work we are discussing falls.

The next section is Top Needs.
Remember those needs you articulated in the questioning phase?

“If I understand you correctly, your top 3 needs are…”

This is a phrase you should have said with each buyer and clearly articulated those needs to show that you heard them. 

The top needs are a synthesis of all the needs you heard. These should be the top things that you can influence and have an impact on with your work and that will bring value to the company.

Next comes the Values section.
This section is where we talk about what we will do for them. We do mention deliverables and our process here but as we talk about each part we correlate it to what they are getting from that item, that process, that document and how it impacts their business and the project success.

The proposal is finally rounded out with bios about the team and a rough timeline.

The last page of the proposal is a break down of costs. 

The proposal is a synthesis of the information and needs of all the buyers. It recaps the context and background information that we have heard. We validate the synthesis of their needs and articulate the value of the work as it relates to their needs and ultimately their business.

Here’s a template for a presentation in the structure described above. [pdf version]