If you sell a complex product or one that involves the delivery of professional services, writing effective selling proposals can be critical to your success.
Some proposals are written in response to an RFP (Request for Proposal) or RFI (Request for Information).
Client organisations that have gone to the bother of writing RFP's want to receive highly structured proposals, which make it easier for them to compare responses from various bidders.
For the remaining 80% a formal proposal is often required.
Regrettably some proposals are churned in what appears to be a "Generic Grenades" factory. Standard word processed tempates with only cursory modication are lobbed indiscriminately across to the client in the vain hope of success.
"Never mind the quality - feel the width"
These generic grenades also tend to be long, boring, and tedious to read. Often they are produced under the incorrect assumption that quantity of pages outweighs quality of content is what makes a proposal effective.
Question: Is it worth wrting a proposal in the first place?
Suppliers waste incredible amounts of time and resources preparing proposals for poorly qualified opportunities in a knee jerk response to unqualified buyer's requests. These resulting proposals have little chance of achieving sales.
Once you have qualifed the opportunity and made a conscious decision that the opportunity warrants the investment of time and resources required to generate a quality proposal, you are ready to write an effective selling proposal.
Proposals today should be be lean, focused, client-specifics and written to sell to anyone that reads them.
How does a written proposal accomplish this?
Through words that motivate and provide compelling reasons that support a buying decision.
It is best presented to your client in person, or the buying group, and continues to sell after you have left.
When is a formal proposal most appropriate?
- When your recommendation is based on information from a variety of sources; it serves as a summary of that information.
- Following an extensive survey of clients's needs.
- When your recommendation is a large complex solution. In this case it will help your client understand all the details and implications, and provide a document which justifies the cost.
- When you cannot meet the final decision maker, for example, a board of directors; it can continue to sell in your absence.
- When you are selling to a buying group, or whenever more than one person is involved in the decision making process.
Never use a formal proposal as a prospecting tool. Such a proposal is bound to be a poor one, as well as being a waste of time and money.
The appearance of your proposal should reflect the time and care taken to prepare it.
- Make sure the proposal is logically organised and that the major points are easy to locate
- Make each page visually attractive:
- Do not put too much information on each page
- Have equal width margins of at least 1"
- Have all pages equal in size
- Use pictures and diagrams whenever possible
- Highlight important points
- Use a good quality word processing software/printer/photocopier
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- Proof read three times (if possible by different people) to make sure that the proposal is error free
- Put your proposal in a cover which is attractive, personalized, and allows for easy turning of the pages.
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