What’s an unsolicited proposal?
An unsolicited proposal is when you approach a business or government with a proposal to provide your service or product, even though your service or product isn’t being actively sought at that time by the business or government.
Reasons why you might make an unsolicited proposal vary. Some companies just chance their arm, using a proposal as a way of introduction with follow up calls. Others use a proposal to make a tangible offer, such as proposing a free demonstration or a product trial so that the user can experience the product or service without risk.
Why make an unsolicited proposal?
It’s important to be clear about your reasons for sending an unsolicited proposal.
What’s your end-goal? For most, it’s to secure a conversation with the prospective client.
How do you write an unsolicited proposal?
Proposals that describe how a service or product will make an important contribution to another organisation are best. So it’s important that your proposal explains how the organisation will enjoy cost or time savings or minimise risks as a result of using your service or product. This is your value proposition.
But remember that the organisation that receives your proposal may not be as thrilled as you are about your product or services and its amazing benefits. They probably receive unsolicited proposals every week.
However, on the upside, most of the unsolicited proposals that organisations receive are very poor. They don’t address the organisation’s specific needs, issues or challenges; they are badly written and riddled with grammatical errors; and they talk endlessly about their own business. They fail to succinctly and professionally present a sound business case. So, not impressive at all.
What should your unsolicited proposal include?
To make your unsolicited proposal impressive, it’s absolutely crucial that it’s brief. It needs to speak directly to the organisation by using their name, and succinctly explain:
- Why your product or service is so fantastic. A short executive summary is a useful way to sum up the outcomes or results that your product or service delivers.
- The purpose of your product or service. It’s surprising how many proposals (and websites) don’t spell out what the product or service actually does.
- The organisation’s problem or issue that your product or service addresses.
- How your service or product works. You might describe your methodology, your team, it’s technical specifications or timeframe.
- The results or outcomes it delivers. Short case studies of the achievements delivered to clients are great in this regard.
- Referees, if available.
- Who is behind the product or service: your company, key team members.
- Any legal, e.g. IP.
Make sure your unsolicited proposal is professional
Have your unsolicited proposal designed by a professional graphic designer. Include a smart cover with your logo and contact details, a table of contents and well laid out internal pages with white space.
It is useful to include charts or diagrams, too. For example, a flow chart to describe your methodology or process and photos of your product.
Don’t forget to proofread your proposal. After all your efforts, you don’t want it to be full of typos.