3 Ways to Move from Proposal Content to Proposal Quality

You are a week into proposal development and the team has pulled together a first draft. The response is about 60% of the way there. But it’s mostly content, informative rather than persuasive, and fluff. The narrative is choppy and out of step with your win themes. There are solution inaccuracies and compliance red flags, and overall, the draft is fraught with grammatical and formatting errors. So far, it’s been a good week resulting in a pretty typical first draft.

Where you go from here will determine how well your proposal resonates with evaluators. Here are three ways to advance your proposal content to the quality evaluators crave for the win.

Write with Intent

A proposal is a purchasing vehicle, and your goal is to make evaluators question their position and consider accepting yours. When every headline, answer, bullet point, and graphic carries that significance, you establish a connection with the evaluator that resonates.

Writing with intent is an exercise in empathy, so start by putting yourself in your evaluator’s shoes. Consider what the evaluator wants to hear from you, rather than what you have to say. For example, a clever headline may spark interest, but it only invites the evaluator in when it’s relevant to them. Of course, every answer must be compliant, but go a step further. Consider the questions you’ll raise in the evaluators mind as they read, and include those details to further their understanding and acceptance.

Quality proposals focus on intent and the details that will help evaluators understand, and accept, your solution at a deeper level.

Make Content Actionable

Actionable content is content that evaluators can implement. In other words, it’s informative and relevant – but it is also relatable, showing evaluators how to achieve success. It establishes you as a confident, authoritative source, establishing trust between you and the evaluator.

For example, “proposal one” is compliant and informative, but only answers the questions. “Proposal two” is also compliant and information, but goes further, explaining how choosing the right solution will impact the evaluator. It talks about the various factors for success, breaks down the entire process into simple steps and terms, and infuses each of those steps with relevant, real-life success stories. In other words, both proposals are compliant and informative, but only the second proposal is actionable.

Quality proposals focus on the “how to do” aspect of your solution, making it actionable and leaving a lasting impression with evaluators.

Remove the Fluff

Filler words and phrases like basically, exactly, actually, in general, in order to, make your proposal sound uncertain and unwilling to take a clear position. They undermine the confidence and diminish the trust you’re trying so hard to build with evaluators. Eliminating these filler words and phrases will create stronger, more concise sentences that more clearly convey your intent and hold your evaluator’s attention.

Consider this example:

  • While we believe the implementation can be completed in two months, in order to do so, we will need to incur additional costs. [23]


  • While this implementation can be completed in two months, to do so, we will need to incur additional costs. [19]

The first example contains filler words that dilute your message. On the one hand, you’re conveying something relevant. On the other hand, you’re including filler words that make it difficult for the evaluator to concentrate and follow you’re line of thinking.

Quality proposals cut the fluff to keep evaluators engaged and build credibility.

In Conclusion

It takes multiple proposal drafts to go from content to quality, and writing with intent, delivering actionable content, and cutting the fluff will deliver the quality evaluators crave for the win. It is, however, in the review and revision process where proposal quality takes shape. To deliver a quality proposal, your review process should be collaborative and real-time, driving quick and clear consensus among reviewers that leave ample time for revisions.

What Do Proposal Evaluators (Really) Want?