1 A Good Proposal Is Hard to Find … But It’s Worth Looking

I ONCE POSED WHAT I THOUGHT WAS A RHETORIcal question to a group of sales and marketing people at a large engineering firm: “What’s a good proposal?” From the back of the room came an answer: “One that’s done!”

He was kidding, of course. Most of us recognize that just because a proposal is finished doesn’t mean it’s any good. Or that it will do the job.

So … what is a good proposal?

That seems like an easy question, but many businesspeople find it difficult to answer.

For one thing, they tend to confuse proposals with other kinds of documents or they want the proposal to do double duty. They want it to function simultaneously as a contract, a work order, or a bill of materials. Or they ...

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