Three Proposal Best Practices That Will Reduce Your Stress


After submitting over 1,000 proposals to public and private clients, I’ve grown attached to some proposal practices that I believe make for overall better proposals and help alleviate proposal-related stress. Here they are:

Dummy Book

As we are making a proposal, we put together what’s known as a dummy book. This is just a manilla folder that contains the latest and greatest pieces of the proposal. As soon as we start a proposal, we are making a dummy book. This way anyone can see exactly what the proposal looks like at any given time.

I learned the dummy book technique while putting together large EPC proposals about a decade ago. It’s a useful and timeless practice.

Final Flip Through

After the proposal is complete and put together, I flip through every copy of the proposal one more time, page by page. The rule of thumb is that I need to find a mistake. And I always do. No matter how good you think your proposal is, it probably has at least one “boo boo” in it.

That is because while we are working with the proposal we become “too close” to it and our eyes magically pass by mistakes. That’s why it’s most beneficial to have someone who was not involved in the proposal development perform the flip through.

A Day to Travel

Proposals should not be sent overnight but should be sent by “overnight service.” Simply because UPS and FedEx can not be trusted when it comes to your proposals. They have no skin in the game. If your proposal gets there late, they will give you your money back.

No big deal for them, huge deal for you. Give them an extra day and assume they will screw up. Because, assuming they screw up is a lot safer than assuming they won’t and being wrong. If your clients are local, just hand deliver your proposals.

Or have someone from your office hand deliver them for you. But be careful about the  kind of communication you can or can not have with the client.Use these three proposal techniques and the proposal process will be a whole lot less stressful.


  1. […] There are also other strategies you can add your proposal development, like dummy books and final flip throughs. […]

Speak Your Mind