The Development Source

Getting Business with Proposals

Companies develop proposals to local, state, or federal agencies for one and one reason only:  they want to receive a contract to provide goods or services.  Selling to the government may involve different procedures than selling in the private sector, but the basic principles are still the same.  They are fairly simple and straightforward, but they make the difference between winning or not winning government contracts.

 According to Pursuit Communications (, there are six truths that businesses need to keep in mind from the beginning.  If you can get these truths right, you will be in a better position to develop a successful proposal to a government agency. 

 Keep these questions in mind as you get ready to bid:

 What do I know about my target government agency?

Learn the mission of the government agency.  Identify their current issues, challenges, and problems.  Learn what keeps them up at night worrying.  Because your proposal will be tailored to a specific agency, you must understand how to align yourself with your potential funder.

 Why would they want to buy from me?

You need to understand what your potential customer wants, not what you have to offer.  Ask yourself how your product or service differs from the competition.  If it does not, then you will have trouble developing a successful proposal.

 When should I talk with them?

Cold calls are notoriously difficult sales challenges.  So are cold proposals.  You need to decide when to talk with your government agency at the right moment in the bid cycle.  You cannot talk once the Request for Proposals (RFP) appears.  Find ways to help them learn about you and how you can help them.

 How will I engage with them?

The answer is simple – you must find ways to align yourself with an agency’s mission, issues, and challenges or there will be no connection.  If you cannot make a meaningful connection, you should not submit a proposal.

 Where can your company add real value?

Peter Drucker once said that the goal of any business is to create new customers.  You must find a way you match the strengths of your product or service with the needs of a government agency.  Again, alignment is the key.

 Who are the decision-makers?

You have limited time, resources, and energy.  Figure out who you really need to talk to at a government agency.  Your goals should be to gather information about a potential bid and present your company as a potential partner.

 Keep in mind that proposals are sales documents.  To make a sale, you must know your customer really well and your customer must know, trust, and respect you.  Figure out how to make that connection and your proposals will be much more competitive.

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