Are you an expert in the field of security? That category can include a lot of different businesses – everything from providing bodyguard services to designing software security programs to selling and installing burglar alarms and security cameras.
You know all about your field. You know your capabilities and what your clients need from you. But do you know how to win new clients and gain more business share? These days all businesses are clamoring for attention, and there’s a lot of competition out there, too. So the old business practices of sending out form letters and paying for an ad in the local phone book is probably not the smartest strategy. The best way to succeed in expanding your client base and securing more contracts is to master the art of writing a business proposal.
You’ve never written a business proposal? Don’t sweat it. There are four elements that make up every business proposal. Here’s the basic structure: Section 1) introduce yourself; Section 2) show that you understand your prospective client’s needs; Section 3) highlight your goods and services and present your costs; and Section 4) persuade the client that your organization is the right pick for the job. Doesn’t sound so tough, does it? You can also get a head start by using pre-designed templates and samples along with some automation software to help you efficiently write your proposal.
If you follow the four-section structure described above, writing a business proposal for a security related business will be fairly straightforward. The number of pages in your proposal will vary depending on the complexity of the project you are proposing. An average proposal is five to ten pages long. A complex proposal could have dozens of pages. A very short one might include only an introductory Cover Letter, a Work Order or a Products or Services Provided page, and a Price List.
The secret to creating a successful proposal is to tailor it to the party who will make the decision about whether or not to accept your proposal. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. What does that person or organization need? What are their concerns? If you don’t know that party well, you may need to do some research, but it will pay off in creating a customized proposal that is much more likely to succeed than any form letter.
Tailoring a proposal doesn’t mean that each page needs to be unique. You will naturally reuse many of the same pages in multiple proposals. But each proposal should be targeted to the specific client’s needs. A proposal is a sales document; its goal is to persuade potential clients to give you their business. To be persuasive, you must instill trust that you can deliver the goods or services they need, and that takes some personalized effort.
Start your proposal by introducing yourself and the proposal with a Cover Letter and Title Page. Keep your Cover Letter brief: explain who you are, include all relevant contact information, and print the letter on your company letterhead. The Title Page is exactly what it sounds like: a page that introduces your proposal and the specific project you are proposing. Some examples might be “Installation and Monitoring of Security Cameras and Alarm Systems for the Ryleston Buildings,” “Proposal to Provide Security Services for the Regional Mayors Conference,” “Proposed Upgrading of Computer Security for XYX Corporation.”
After the introduction section comes a client-centered section. Here you will include topics that show your understanding of your potential client. Depending on the complexity of the project you are proposing, you may or may not need to start off with a detailed summary (called an Executive Summary for corporate clients or a Client Summary for a less formal project). In this client-centered section, describe the prospective client’s needs, goals, and concerns. This is not yet the place where you talk about your goods or services. This section is all about your client.
After the client-centered section comes your section and your chance to shine. Add pages that describe how you will provide solutions to the client’s needs with your goods or services. You’ll add pages with titles like Safety, Security, Services Provided, Benefits, Products, Price List, Services Cost Summary, Warranty, Guarantee and so forth; include all the topics you need to describe exactly what you intend to provide and how much it will cost.
You will need specialized topics that pertain to your particular business. Add pages with details the client will want to know. For example, a company that sells computer security software might want to include descriptions of Software or Specifications, as well as Certifications held by their employees. A bodyguard service will probably need descriptions of Personnel, details about their Training, Contingency Plan pages, discussion of Discretion issues, and so forth. A company selling security cameras and other devices may need to include pages about Equipment, Service Plans, Customer Service pages, and Warranty or Guarantee pages.
After you’ve described your goods and services and costs comes the final section, where you provide information about your company. Your goal is to conclude your proposal by convincing the prospective client that you can be trusted to deliver the goods or services you have described. Here, you’ll add pages like About Us/Company History, Awards, Testimonials, References, Qualifications, Capabilities, Our Clients, Experience, and so on. Include everything you need to convince the client that you can do what you’ve promised.
That’s it! The proposal is written. Now, take a little time to make your proposal visually appealing. You want it to stand out from the competition. Add color and graphics by incorporating your company logo, selecting custom bullet points and fonts, or adding colored page borders. Don’t go overboard, though you want to match your business style.
Be sure to carefully proofread and spell-check all the pages. If your proposal seems carelessly thrown together, the reader will probably conclude you’re careless, too. It’s always hard to spot errors in your own work, so it’s a good idea to have someone who is unfamiliar with your proposal do the final proof. Remember that spell check cannot catch words that are correctly spelled but misused.
Save your proposal as a PDF file or print it, and then deliver it. Although it’s common to email PDF files to clients nowadays, a hand-delivered printed proposal may impress the client more. If the new business is especially valuable to you and you have a lot of competition for work, you should put your best effort into the proposal and delivery.
You can see that each proposal for a security business will include different pages, and for maximum success, each proposal should be tailored for the party receiving it. But you can also see that all security proposals will follow a similar format and structure, and you can reuse some pages, so you’ll become more efficient with each proposal. Plus, remember that you don’t need to start from scratch, you can find templates for all the pages mentioned in this article in a proposal kit. A kit of templates will contain instructions and provide examples of information to include on each proposal page. A proposal kit will also contain sample proposals, including samples for a variety of security related businesses. Using pre-designed templates and studying sample proposals will give you a giant stride forward toward creating your own winning business proposal.