“Send me a proposal” – music to your ears?

Or not?  Sometimes when a prospect says “OK, send me a proposal” we go into panic mode.  Whereas these words should be music to our ears!

The opportunity to write a proposal is definitely a milestone in the sales cycle and is a step closer to winning the business.

But, you should determine if you have to send a lengthy proposal or if a letter outlining your proposed services and fees will suffice.

Even better, could you simply send a letter of confirmation stating the work you will undertake from your understanding of the meeting?  If you know the client is keen to proceed then this may eliminate them going out to get proposals from several other companies, especially if you position yourself competitively and more importantly show a clear understanding of what the client wants to achieve.

A confirmation letter differs from a proposal in that it describes what you will do, not what you are proposing to to.  It should cover the objective, scope of your services, schedule, fees and deliverables.  So it is more like a Terms of Reference document.

It is also cutting out a stage in the process which may work in your favour.  However, sometimes only a proposal will do and you have to include case studies, experience of key personnel and often other complex information specific to the job in hand.

Bear the following in mind to create a good proposal

  1. Create a concise and powerful executive summary.
  2. Focus on results.
  3. Get your ideas in the document.
  4. Quality not quantity.
  5. Make the content about the client, not you.
  6. Don’t refer to what worked for other clients – be creative, suggest solutions that fit this client’s needs.
  7. Validate all data prior to sending.
  8. Review every point – make sure there are no typos and deliver it on time.
  9. Rewrite your CV for every proposal and highlight the skills that are appropriate for each – clients are not interested in every single thing you have done to date.
  10. Let the proposal sit for a day or so and re-read to ensure you are still happy with it.
  11. Get your personality across in the proposal – it doesn’t have to be too formal.
  12. Don’t over-promise where you know there’s a possibility of under-delivering.

A good proposal can win the client but equally a bad proposal can lose you the business, even if everything else previously has been to your advantage.  Make sure you don’t have a blanket proposal template that you send every time – it will be obvious to your prospect.

Contact me for further information or to discuss your own proposal writing in more detail.

About Marie

I started Elite Edge at the end of 1999 and I am still as passionate about marketing today as I was then - probably more so because I consider myself very lucky to do a job that I love every day! My area of specialism is strategic planning but like most people these days, I wear many other hats too!
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