How to Write Sales Proposals

A frequent question that I get asked is ‘how to write sales proposals’ and ‘how to write tenders’.

How to Write Sales Proposals

The terms ‘tenders’ and ‘proposals’ can often be confused. For example, being invited to submit a tender might simply mean that a costed proposal is required. This gives choice on the layout. Whereas a formal tender often involves answering lots of set questions. This post deals with simple sales proposals and informal tenders.

How to Write Sales Proposals – Use This Template

There is no definite answer to ‘how to write sales proposals’ and no absolute ‘sales proposal template’. But a good start can be made by writing using these headings in this order:

Summary or Executive Summary

Start with a brief outline of the key aspects of your proposal and benefits to the customer. This shows them early on ‘what is in it for me’.


Outline the customer’s objectives or problems to be addressed. Doing this demonstrates your understanding of their needs.

Responding to Tender Questions Guide

This guide to responding to tender questions also relates to PQQs, RFPs etc. If you follow these simple steps, you will improve the quality of your tender responses and your chances of winning the bid.

Responding to Tender Questions Guide

Responding to Tender Questions Checklist

These basic actions explain tender writing best practice and how to avoid making common tendering errors.

Before you start answering the questions, make sure the tender is right for you. And make sure you plan your tender correctly.

Be Careful When Re-using Old Content

You should build up a tender response library. There’s nothing wrong with re-using good content. As long as it is relevant and customised to each tender. Avoid just cutting and pasting or sticking to a tender template.

Answer All the Questions

Simply put – don’t leave any gaps. If you do, you cannot get marked and that means zero points / no score.

Answer the Question

Don’t fudge an answer – if you are not sure then ask.

Also check that you have really answered what is being asked – not what you think is being asked.

Tell the Truth!

It’s often tempting to give the answer that is expected e.g. “Is your company ISO 9001 accredited?” Too many companies have responded: “The company is in the process of getting 9001 accreditation”. Buyers know this normally translates to “No, and no intention of getting it unless you really push me”.

Therefore give a positive response by adding when it is due to be completed (if you really are in the process) or state that you do not have 9001 but do have quality processes in place / would be willing to get it. Or just say no. NB if it is a mandatory requirement, then you may just have to pull out.

12 Steps of Planning Tenders and Bids – Bid Management

Planning tenders properly is often overlooked. All too frequently we receive a desperate phone call from someone asking for help when the tender or PQQ is due in tomorrow! Even if we had any capacity, there really isn’t enough time to do a professional job. Here are some simple bid management tips on planning tenders and PQQs:

12 Steps of Planning Tenders and Bids - Bid Management

How to Approach to Planning Tenders and PQQs

1. Start Early!

The earlier you start, the more time you have. Also getting started early takes away some of the pressure of the task looming ahead.

2. Start a Bid File

Get everything you need in one place for easy access and reference. This will save time in future. I always recommend a paper file as it’s easier to make notes. Then ring-bind it to keep everything together and in the right order order.

3. Plan & Project Manage

Setting timescales and making sure they are met will help you meet deadlines. So do follow up with colleagues to check everything is on target.

4. Read the ITT & Instructions (TWICE)

You can easily miss things first time around so always re-read. Also get other members of your team to read to make sure you have not missed or misunderstood anything.

10 Most Common Tendering Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

When trying to write good tender / PQQ / RFP responses, a good starting point is to understand what are the most common tendering mistakes – you can then make sure you avoid them!

10 Most Common Tendering Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

In no particular order:

1. Incorrect Cost Schedules

You normally have to complete a pricing template; this makes it easier for the buyers to compare the various submissions. If you get it wrong, your prices may not accepted or marked properly

2. Incorrect Formatting, Presentation & Non-conformance

A bit like the last one, if you don’t follow their format, you can get marked down.

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