The Write Way

Why You’re Still Not Getting a Response to Your Proposals

You know how much time goes into developing a proposal. All of the research, writing, and revising is worth it, presuming the proposal is successful in attracting a new client or obtaining funding. But not every proposal is a success, and few things are more frustrating than watching all those hours of hard work disappear for nothing.

A "thanks but no thanks" response is painful. Worse still is finding yourself in "proposal purgatory”: You submit a proposal that perfectly captures your organization's capabilities or your product's benefits, and your company receives no response.

Where did you go wrong? Is it the market? The competition? Can you blame it on the economy?

The answer could be much simpler. You might be talking to the wrong audience.

Know your audience
Many scientific or technological experts think only in terms of the data they're producing and simply reporting their findings. Little to no thought is given to the proposal’s message or audience, and readers are left to decipher the information on their own.

This is the wrong approach; readers aren’t going to persuade themselves. Don’t make your audience work to find the purpose of your proposal.

A winning proposal begins with a thorough understanding of not just your topic, but also your audience. When you begin the process, ask your team, "Who is going to be reading this?" If the answer is simply "Customer X" or "Government Agency Y," you've already put yourself at a disadvantage.

Identifying your audience means knowing exactly who is going to read the document. In addition to using appropriate language, tone, and style to  communicate your research, you need to think about what appeals to your reader. Don’t focus on your company’s needs, instead present information in a way that’s useful and engaging to the end-user.

Give readers what they want
Successfully achieving this personalized appeal isn’t a quick process; a significant amount of time should be spent researching your audience before you begin putting together your written proposal. What types of information should an audience analysis yield? Ask yourself these questions about your readers:

Once you understand the audience on a deeper level, you can determine how to tailor your proposal content accordingly.

This is where writing technique comes into play. A winning proposal is a combination of good planning and great execution. Just because your team doesn't come by these capabilities naturally doesn't mean they can't learn; start by increasing your team’s knowledge about your audience, and a positive proposal response rate will soon follow!  

Teaching your team to use a sound writing process is crucial to the success of your business. Proposal writing classes offered onsite can teach your team how to craft winning proposals in less time and with less effort. Hurley Write can help. Email us or call us toll-free at 877-24-WRITE (877-249-7483).

(If your operating system does not support using a Print button,
simply use your Web browser's "Print" command instead.)

© 2016 Hurley Write, Inc. ( All rights reserved.

Hurley Write, Inc.