First of all, you should have a standard template for creating your proposal. At a minimum, it should include sections for:
- Overall description and scope
- Specific objectives and benefits
- Constraints, assumptions, and dependencies
- Differentiation – don’t forget to make it clear why you are the best choice!
Depending on the size of your organization, you should have a formal process for your proposals. Even if you are the one creating your proposals, you should still have a process for reviewing it for accuracy. And, as you begin to delegate proposal creation, you should further define the required approval process. For instance, any proposal over $XXX must have sign off from the sales manager, president, owners, and so on.
Your proposal should include your standard sales terms. That is the financial aspects of your proposal:
- Payment plan – You should outline payments for the purchase of materials as well as milestones which are the basis for the authorization for the work to begin.
- Commercial issues – You should specify your payment terms as well as your process for invoicing and remittance (how money is transferred).
In my experience, Alliance Partners are far too timid with respect to these financial considerations. You aren’t a banking institution, so you shouldn’t be expected to finance the project for the customer. If necessary, explain to the customer that you bid the job based on your standard financial terms. Of course, you can be open to accommodating their terms, but you may need to adjust your bid accordingly.