The Essential Ingredients of a Winning Proposal

As a security consultant, responding to client requirements, via a written proposal, is a core function that must be mastered.  If you desire to land new clients – and generate revenue – you must be particularly adept at understanding all the essential ingredients that make up a winning submission.  Otherwise, you will not make it in this business and will be forced to seek other means to earn a living.

Drafting a Winning Proposal

When drafting proposals, most consultants expound too much about themselves and their qualifications, rather than explaining the intended results and net benefits.  They pack their proposals with elaborate charts and graphs, colorful pictures, and long-winded bios.  Moreover, they seem to forget that the client is looking to have their headaches go away quickly, rather than be dazzled by a 50-page quasi-marketing brochure.

To help you close more deals, below is a useful framework for delivering a “short and sweet” winning proposal.   Much of this comes from consulting guru, Alan Weiss (who has personally coached me on similar matters).

A successful proposal should include the following:

Situation Appraisal – Summarize and reconfirm the conceptual agreement concerning the condition to be improved and the desired state of the client.

Objectives – The outcomes expected, both tangible and intangible, quantifiable and non-quantifiable.

Value – Either clearly stated or implied through client conversations (what is the value of achieving the objectives?)

Metrics – How will the client evaluate success and what are the indicators that the objectives have been met?

Timing – Projects are finite.  When to we begin, when do we end, and are there progress measures in between?

Accountabilities – What is the client expected to provide and what is the nature of the collaboration?

Credentials – Why are you the best alternative for the client?

Terms and Conditions – What is the fee for the project and how will it be billed?

Acceptance – The sign-off by the client.


Follow this simple recipe and watch your proposal win rate improve.