The Development Source
The proposal profession has benefited greatly from Steve Shipley and his company, Shipley Associates. Mr. Shipley and his colleagues not only provide outstanding proposal services to companies, but they also convey their knowledge and passion for wining proposals in excellent publications and presentations.
Shipley Associates’ Proposal Guide for Business Development and Sales Professionals (I have the second edition from 2003) is the clearest, most succinct, and most helpful guide to doing proposals available. I strongly recommend this book to any proposal professional.
Brad Douglas, a Shipley Associate, has excellent advice about writing winning proposals. He recommends a very sensible five-step writing process:
I already have discussed planning, organizing, writing, and examining your prose. In this blog, I will discuss the last step – revision – which should involve three basic principles: (1) be clear; (2) be concise; and (3) be correct and compliant.
I want to stress writing in the active voice, one of my favorite pieces of advice. Too many proposals are written in the passive voice, which creates ambiguity and makes evaluation difficult. Use active verbs to show the subjects of your sentences undertaking some action and you will help achieve clarity in your prose.
I want to stress the slim-fast approach to editing. For me, editing means paring down your prose to its bare essentials. Editing should reduce, not expand, the size of your proposal.
Be Correct and Compliant.
Time is a key element in this stage. If you keep reviewing your drafts one after the other, you will miss many mistakes that inevitably creep into proposals. Walk away from your draft for a day and you will be surprised about how many mistakes jump out at you the next time you read it.
If you following these steps in revising your proposal writing, you should be able to produce a very good final version of your proposal sections.