How to write a killer proposal – Part 1

The basics of a great proposal:

  • Make it clear that you understand your client’s needs;
  • Go the extra mile to differentiate your offering;
  • Speak in benefits, not features;
  • Make sure every proposal is unique; and
  • Don’t be tempted to speak in jargon.

Why great proposals are important

When you work on any proposal, the objective is to make it good enough to help close a sale, no matter which area your business operates in. In the tech sector, the level of fancy footwork required to beat off the competition is such that it’s well worth looking closely at your proposal-writing process to see where and if improvements can be made. Never just cut and paste; make it specific to the client you are selling to.

Few people would argue about the importance of proposals in the sales process, but unfortunately it’s all too common not to put in the effort needed so that proposals are all they possibly can be. This could be because proposal writing often comes at the part of the sales process whereby you might feel that you can predict the outcome? If you believe you have the deal ‘in the bag’ you might be tempted put less effort into the proposal. On the other hand, if you feel like you’re a real outsider, you might be less motivated to go the extra mile. Both of these actions are foolhardy and should be avoided at all costs.

Here’s what you need to do to get the absolute basics of your proposal right…

Make it clear that you really understand your client

People often take the time to relate to their client during a sales interview but fail to do so when it comes to proposal-writing. During your sales interview, aim to identify at least one unique and remarkable piece of client information and, if at all possible, seek detail. Make notes during the interview so you can refer to these revelations in detail in your proposal. This is a great way of reinforcing that you genuinely want to find the best solution possible for your client. In addition to this, try to seek out the three main problems that your client is facing that you can solve.

Go the extra mile to really differentiate your offering

At this moment in time, the client is King. Clients have never been more powerful than they are right now. He or she can find solutions easily and often at rock bottom prices. Because of this, your proposal needs to prove that you are different from your competitors. The best way to do this is by addressing your client’s unique situation in a confident yet respectful way.

Speak in benefits, not features

It is benefits that sell tech solutions because they show that you really understand your potential client’s needs. If you’re struggling to turn a feature into a benefit, adding “which means that…” should help.

Make sure every proposal is unique

No matter how pressed for time you are, and no matter how sure you are that the client will sign on the dotted line, avoid drawing too heavily on previous proposals when drafting a new one. Granted, there may be common elements, but if you’re using any form of template, make sure you top and tail every common element with highly personal text and check it before you send it.

Don’t be tempted to speak in jargon

Keep it simple. Jargon at this stage in the game is unlikely to impress. What people appreciate most is client-focused, benefit driven text that’s easy to understand.

Peter Andrew is Head of Innovation at Alba Innovation Centre

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