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May 28, 2024

Building Effective Client Proposals

by Matthew Lucas

Effective pitching to business leaders is a critical skill, particularly for those involved (or aspire to be involved) in consultancy and business transformation. Drawing from extensive experience at IBM and teaching at Warwick Business School, Matthew Lucas has produced a new article that outlines key strategies for students to craft and deliver successful business proposals. The process is broken down into four main stages; research, formulation, development, and delivery:

  1. Research: The research phase is crucial for grounding the proposal in a thorough understanding of the client's problem and business context. The article recommends starting by investigating the client and their requirements and discusses the various information sources such as company reports, external messaging, and competitive analysis to gain a comprehensive view.
  2. Formulation: In this stage, ideas are developed that address the client's requirements, often utilising a process like Design Thinking. The article recommends a brainstorming session to generate a wide range of ideas, which are then narrowed down in to one or two feasible and high-impact concepts. It describes the key considerations when refining your ideas, including the benefits for various stakeholders, success criteria (using SMART targets), associated costs, potential risks, alternative solutions, ethical considerations, and implementation guidance.
  3. Development: The development phase involves creating a presentation or other documentation to convey your ideas effectively. The article recommends a presentation structure that’s designed to be clear and comprehensive, and with the best chance of success.
  4. Delivery: Effective delivery of the material is as important as the content itself. This section gives recommendations on how to prepare for and pitch any client presentation, with techniques to control nerves and mitigate the chances of things going wrong on the day.

By following the strategies in this article, students can enhance their ability to influence and persuade business leaders effectively.


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