Propose Options - you'll win more work

When submitting a proposal for products or services, be sure to propose options for your customer to consider. You'll win more work because you'll be a better and more distinguished competitor.

And, being a better competitor is one of the better small business ideas.

You might have a customer that has specifically asked for a particular bid - plain vanilla. That's fine. Bid that, but also bid alternatives and variations so you have a better chance of winning.

Here is why proposing more will give you a better chance of being a successful bidder.

It Shows Imagination and Insight

Let's say that your potential customer is asking for something very specific. Again, it's plain vanilla that they want. You should bid that, but also show some imagination by bidding variations, proposing options and suggesting ancillary things that are complementary to the base bid.

Does your customer just want the "run of the mill" service provider or would they appreciate someone with added value - someone who can think things through and make suggestions without being told what to do? That's what offering options can show them.

If you're showing your imagination in the form of options, you could "wow" them over the competition that bids just "plain vanilla." Your bid should offer the "plain vanilla," but it should also suggest chocolate topping with whipped cream, ground nuts and a cherry.

Don't be surprised if your customer sees added value in your proposal and decides to expand the budget for the project to take advantage of your offer at a relatively small increase in cost.

In addition to imagination, your offer to perform other tasks as proposed options is an opportunity to show your insight into customer needs. If you show insight, you're also showing interest and concern. Try doing this:

  • Coordinate your proposed work with ongoing or upcoming customer projects.
  • Harness results from other customer efforts to make your project more successful or effective.
  • Propose options for service that might work with customer needs and interests - advice, periodic support, full time support, or a turnkey operation.
  • Offer products, equipment or supplies as options with your offer. Many companies won't provide sufficient office equipment to their staff, but you can if you're going to be a service provider. This additional offering might be very persuasive if your customer is in need of the office equipment that you're proposing.

Any customer that's worth working for will appreciate your imagination and insight into their operations. I just don't see a downside to offering options in your proposal to show interest, insight and imagination to your customer.

It's Distinguishing

If there's one thing you want to do as an entrepreneur, it's distinguish yourself among the field of competitors. Whether your competition is large or small, new or well established, good or bad, or something else entirely, there is no sense being a "me too" marketer.

It's better to be unique and stand out from the crowd.

When you propose options for your customer, you might be one of the few, if not the only one, and that is a mark of distinction. No sense being one of "the other guys" when you can be "that smart guys."

It Leads to Other Opportunities

If you propose options for your client, you might just get them thinking about alternatives to what they thought they wanted. Your options could generate new thinking and a new course of action. That new course of action could involve you and your company, especially if you were the only one with imagination and insight enough to propose the options in the first place.

The whole purpose of issuing a request for proposal is to get offerings from vendors/contractors. In some cases, customers are looking for a "feel" for what's available. Be the one that offers something different, and you just might get your customer to cancel the original request and start discussions with you alone to provide services.


If you're responding the requests for proposals with exactly what your customer is asking, that's fine, you'll be in the pack with others doing much the same. The wise business manager will step out from the pack and propose options to the customer that:

  • Show interest, insight and imagination.
  • Distinguishes the company from the field of competitors.
  • Opens up opportunities for expanded scope and sole source contracts for your unique ideas about solutions that meet the needs of the customer.

The next time you receive a request for proposal, your customer asks for a proposal, or you offer them one, think to propose options. It gives your customer more opportunities to say "yes" to what you're offering.

Done with Propose Options, take me back to Small Business Advice

The only business you'll really ever be part of is your own.

Wondering about what to do with your savings so inflation doesn't eat it up? Start your own enterprise. It's a good way to invest your capital and make it work for you. Who will be better at keeping an eye on your investment than you?