How Solicited Business Proposals Differ from Unsolicited ones

The purpose of any business proposal is to propose an idea for a product or service and spread it effectively among potential customers. In all situations, business proposals are written as a response or a solution to a particular problem. In most organizations, they represent a critical ingredient of successful development and marketing. A business plan usually begins with a restatement of the company’s goals, with a detailed description of the proposed solution and the extent to which it aligns with these goals. However, an external specialist may also need to send a business plan or proposal to the company or the client as part of an ongoing competition for grants. In other words, companies or customers may be looking for freelance specialists to develop some product and services, and a thoroughly developed business proposal can become a new stage in the development of productive relationships with specialists. Here, difference should be made between solicited and unsolicited business proposals.

Business Proposals – Solicited and Unsolicited Ones

Solicited business proposals are those, which are written in response to the issues or requests specified by customers. For example, an organization may publish a written proposal for a product or service, and freelance specialists will send their proposals to this organization. A solicited business proposal contains a detailed description of the product, service, or solution the client needs to solve his or her problems. The customer may also specify the way the proposal should be formatted or the information it must contain.

In contrast, unsolicited business proposals are forwarded to those who have never asked for any. The purpose of unsolicited business proposals is to advertise some product and service and attract customers’ attention to the benefits and potential usefulness of the proposed solution. Unsolicited business proposals contain the most relevant information about a product or service and the way it can satisfy customers’ needs. Therefore, this kind of business proposals will always contain a thorough description of the problem, so that the customer can see it and realize that it needs a thorough and comprehensive solution. Unsolicited business proposals are particularly popular when it comes to new products and services. They motivate customers to make the first move and establish new quality relationships with product and service manufacturers.

Solicited Business Proposals – How It Works

The customer is facing some problem, and a proposal is developed to address and solve this problem. Solicited business proposals come in three different forms: 

  • Invitation for Bid (IFB)

An invitation for bid is written as part of a competition for a contract or the provision of services. In this situation, customers have explicit specifications for the products and services they would like to buy. They know how much effort and money it will take to create a product or service they need. Because such products and services are usually identical, the only difference is in how much money it will take to produce and finalize them. As a result, businesses compete to propose the most cost-effective solution. The task is to prove that a business or a freelance specialist can do the job on time and within the budget constraints set by the client. 

  • Request for Proposal (RFP)

This is the second type of solicited business proposals, when customers have a problem but do not really know how to solve it. As a result, they expect businesses and freelance specialists to propose their ideas or solutions. Requests for proposal should also include a cost component, so that clients could choose the most cost-effective solution. However, there are no specific requirements for information to be included in these proposals or the type of information organizations must provide to win the bid.

  • Request for Quote (RFQ)

Request for quote is a third type of solicited business proposals, which are designed to evaluate and analyze the average market rates for products and services.

How to Write a Great Solicited Business Proposal

When it comes to solicited business proposals, three areas deserve particular attention. First, it is a problem statement where you describe what the customer needs, what problem he or she is facing, and how this problem affects his or her organizational and business capability. Second, it is a proposal of a promising solution that will allow eradicating the existing problem in the most affordable way. A description of the solution should be thorough and detailed. Third, it is a thorough analysis of the organizational capabilities and resources. Any organization which writes a solicited business proposal must prove that it has the expertise and resources needed to do the job.

Unsolicited Business Proposals Can Also Be Effective

The purpose of an unsolicited business proposal is to outline the advantages of a new product and service to the customer. The task is particularly challenging, given that the customer did not ask for any proposal. It means that the purpose of an unsolicited business proposal is two-fold –first, to persuade the client that he or she has a problem and, second, to propose a solution to have this problem solved.

A distinctive feature of an unsolicited business proposal is that it does not take part in any competition. It is simply an instrument for organizations to improve their image and make their products and services more visible to potential customers. For example, government organizations and agencies may ask businesses to forward their proposals for technological innovations to help reduce the costs of database management in public service. When writing unsolicited business proposals, companies should not follow any strict requirements. However, this does not save them from presenting a brief and concise proposal. 

Before you submit the finished unsolicited business proposal, you will need to decide if the customer is ready to admit the problem and accept your proposal. In most cases, organizations review unsolicited proposals to find something interesting. They will contact you if your proposal stands out.

How to Create an Outstanding Unsolicited Business Proposal

You should begin with the guidelines or instructions provided by the client. Quite often, you will find these instructions on companies’ websites. In any case, make sure that your proposal includes the fullest information about your company, as well as your achievements and capabilities, so that the customer could see how well you can cope with the proposed task. Do not forget about contact details. Include the names of the key personnel. Specify the recipient and show your structured understanding of the problem the customer is currently facing.

See if the customer provides any requirements for formatting and style. If there is none, format your unsolicited business proposal in ways that capture your readers’ attention. Remember that businesses receive dozens of proposals every day, and your task is to stand out and be noticed by the recipient. You will need to be particularly creative outlining the problem and proposing your solution. Present your proposal as an attractive alternative to everything the customer has already seen in the market. It should be something new, and it should be cheaper than everything else!