Creating Effective Proposals

Add More Impact to Your Proposals

••• Thomas Phelps

Here's a quick tip to increasing the effectiveness of your proposals. As with any quick tip, this is easy to implement and challenging to master. However, keeping this tip in mind when designing your next proposal will help keep you focused and will make the proposal easier to understand for your prospect.

Design the Proposal with the Decision Maker in Mind

You've prospected effectively and have a qualified client who is interested in getting a proposal for you. You've made sure that you've developed rapport, build trust and have identified as many of their needs as you, your product or service can remedy.

Good job!

Now it's time to design a proposal that shows your client why doing business with you is better than any other choice, including the choice of doing nothing. And unless your proposal is "lights out," you may struggle when it comes time to close the deal.

One of the main reasons why deals, that are well structured, well designed and patiently worked through do not fail is that the proposal presented to the customer is weak. And the greatest weakness of all is when your proposal is written with the wrong person in mind.

Each and every proposal you craft needs to be written for the person or people who will ultimately say "yes" or "no." That may or may not be the person with whom you worked with through all the proceeding sales cycle steps. It is critical to find out early in the sales cycle who will be the final decision maker.

Telling Your Story All Over Again

Most rookie sales professionals use proposals as a medium to tell the customer the investment they will need to pay for their product or service. Some may add reasons the customer should do business with their company, but very few craft a proposal that can stand on its own.

A well-written proposal concisely details each step of the sales cycle and explains, again, briefly, how a specific product or service will solve an identified need. They should not be a description of you, your company, the product and the price. Why? Because if the decision maker is not fully in the loop and has not "bought in" to every identified need and agrees with your proposed solution, all they will do is turn to the pricing page and compare you with everyone else who also wants to submit a proposal.

Your proposal needs to remind them of their pains and why they began seeking a solution in the first place. It needs to show them, exactly, why you are suggesting what you are suggesting and how, specifically it will solve their needs, increase their productivity, save them money or make their lives better.

If the decision maker has not been with you every step of the way, you cannot assume that she knows about what challenges their co-workers are faced with and certainly will not know why you are the best choice to solve those challenges. Your only chance to deliver an influential message to a non-involved decision maker is with your proposal. The final decision maker should be able to read your proposal and fully understand which of her business challenges you are proposing to solve, how you propose to solve the challenge, how your solution will solve the issue and why she should choose you and your company to solve her problem.

If your proposal only provides a general outline of your solution, go back and add enough details to allow it to stand on its own. The delicate balance that you must strive for is providing enough information to allow for a decision to make a decision while keeping the proposal's length short enough so as to not dissuade anyone from reading the entire proposal.