What is an unsolicited proposal?
An unsolicited proposal is when you approach a business or government with a proposal for your company to provide them with your service or product. Perhaps you’re offering a trial or a demonstration, or asking them to be your guinea pigs to test your product’s or service’s efficacy. Or maybe you’re seeking funding.
Your proposal is not a response to a formal request for tender, formal request for proposal or request for expressions of interest; rather, you’re taking the initiative to explain why your product or service will be of benefit.
Perhaps you strongly believe that your service or product would make a valuable improvement to government or the business. Proposals – whether solicited or not – always make claims for innovations that drive cost savings or time efficiencies. So bear in mind that the recipient probably receives lots of unsolicited proposals and may not be as excited about your product or service as you are.
How should you write your proposal?
First us, be clear about your objective for making an unsolicited proposal.
Your proposal needs to briefly and clearly explain the following:
- Why your product or service is so great. Use a short executive summary to sum up its feature and benefits
- Why you are making this proposal: for example, to demonstrate or trial the product or service, to obtain funding?
- The purpose of your product or service. It’s surprising how many proposals (and websites) don’t spell out the purpose of a product or service
- What it does – the problem or issue it solves and why this is important
- How it works. This might be it methodology, technical specifications or timeframe
- The results or outcomes it delivers using examples of successful results or test results to prove it works
- Who is behind the product or service: your company, key team members
- Any legal, e.g. IP
- Referees, if available
Importantly too, your wording needs to be about the reader. Use the recipient’s name.
What should your proposal look like?
We recommend having it designed by a professional graphic designer. There’s no need to go overboard, but including a smart cover, a tailored cover title, table of contents and neatly laid out internal pages will make a good impression.
You might need to include illustrations or charts to emphasise your key points or to illustrate the process the service or product follows.
How will your proposal be reviewed?
It will vary from government department to department and business to business but your proposal is most likely to be reviewed first by the procurement team.
If your product or service has relevance, procurement may:
- Contact you for more information
- Do a market scan to identify if there are no other suppliers or a limited supplier base
- Contact your referees
- Review your evidence for efficacy
- Review the impact of changing to your product or service from any current provider
- Analyse the costs versus the benefits
- Assess risk
Subsequently, it may be that the government or business you’ve approached conducts a pilot or test.
The challenge, particularly for government, is the requirement for probity and transparency around procurement. Even if excited by your product or service, it may result in a request for tender or expression of interest being issued.
If your proposal results in wider market testing or a pilot, the broader market could claim unfair advantage if you’ve already had the chance to demonstrate your product or service. The government needs to create a ‘level playing field’ for other potential suppliers.
This can raise issues regarding your own IP. If you’ve shared your IP as part of the assessment of your product or service, it may be difficult for government to then issue a request for tender that provides information to tenderers regarding the service or product being requested that is fair to all potential tenderers. Yet, it may be that the government has to issue an RFT to give equity to all potential suppliers. So, as you can see, it can be difficult for government to act on unsolicited proposals.
If you would like help writing, editing or proofreading your tenders, proposals or business documents, head to the contact page or call Rosemary Gillespie direct on 02 8036 5532 or 0411 123 216.
© State of Victoria 2012 (Victorian Government Purchasing Board)
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia licence. You are free to re-use the work under that licence, on the condition that you credit the State of Victoria as author. The licence does not apply to any images, photographs or branding, including the Victorian Coat of Arms, the Victorian Government logo and the Department of Treasury and Finance logo.
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