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It’s Not About You:Writing Winning Proposals, Lesson 1


Person holding up their hands to signal "no" with the title, "It's Not About You: Writing Winning Proposals, Lesson 1"

“ABC Company is uniquely qualified to help the City of Portland rebuild the Morrison Bridge. The ABC Company, which serves public and private clients on civil and environmental engineering, transportation, water and wastewater, and infrastructure projects, has worked in Oregon for 50 years. Our ABC Team has 75+ years of experience and has completed 100 bridge projects around the country.”


Yawn.

You’ve already put your client to sleep as they wade through your company’s boilerplate.


Most engineers don’t learn how to sell in engineering school, so who can blame them?


Here’s Lesson 1 of writing winning proposals: it’s not about you. Talk about your client instead of yourself.

Your proposal cover letter and introduction should always prioritize the client’s needs. Write about yourself only after you explain you understand those needs. Then you can state clearly how your qualifications fit their needs.

Black businesswoman showing an iPad to a white businessman

Use the precious real estate in your proposal effectively. Does your client need to know all the services you provide? Most RFPs ask for that in a firm information section.


Here's a better intro:


"The City of Portland faces a complicated challenge. The Morrison Bridge is one of the City's most frequently trafficked bridges, especially during rush hour. To rebuild the bridge with the least disruption, you need a consultant who has designed and constructed high-traffic, urban double-leaf bascule bridges. You also need a team that has drawn on local diverse talent. In this proposal, we'll explore these challenges further and explain why the ABC Company is your best choice for this project."


See how it focuses on the client instead of you?


And “uniquely qualified”?

Get rid of that overused phrase. Instead, prove how you are qualified. We’ll get into that in an upcoming lesson.

Let me know if you could use help with marketing, communications, or leadership.


I help professional services firms avoid BORING and boost employee engagement, productivity, and readership. I translate technical, complex, and lackluster language into accessible, dynamic, story-driven text. Get known in your industry through outstanding thought leadership content. Walk your talk through outstanding, effective communications with your employees and clients.


Fertile Ground Communications LLC is a certified women-owned business enterprise, disadvantaged business enterprise, and emerging small business.

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