Hello, again. In this second installment of effective proposal writing, we will examine some essential elements to include in every proposal. We will also discuss a few tips on what not to do.
Proposals are simple in their objective: to secure new business from a client. Whether it is new or add-on services you are selling, whether it is a financial or operational analysis or an overhaul of technology to improve profit margins, the goal of any proposal is to define what matters to your clients and persuade them to act on your sustainable and achievable solution.
The following is a list of items to keep in mind when building a proposal:
• Start with the key points your clients need to know. They will be more likely to continue reading if you begin with options that are relevant to them and their concerns. When your clients know that you understand their situation, the probability of your resolution being considered rises considerably in your favor.
• Illustrate your main points with graphics. Bar graphs, pie charts, flow charts are quite effective at breaking up the page and holding the interest of your client while simultaneously delivering pertinent facts about your company. Most people skim initially rather than read (you’re probably skimming right now, hence the bullet points and short paragraphs) – anything to keep the information flowing and your client hooked.
• Get to the point quickly and keep sentences short and simple. Try to be as clear and as uncomplicated as possible – your clients want to know how you can solve their problem, not that you can use three syllable words in a sentence.
• However, you should always be professional in tone and language: simple does not mean familiar, just straightforward and objective. Descriptions of your process should be described basically and in terms of why they matter to your client.
Some practices to avoid:
• Do not disregard the client’s needs by overusing jargon and acronyms and by focusing on technical details rather than functions and outcomes.
• Stay away from clichés and grandiose claims that are not supported by evidence.
• The overuse of complicated words and sentence structures can have the opposite of the intended effect: a client will stop reading your proposal.
• Do not use words like ‘might’ and ‘could’ – instead words like ‘will’ and ‘can’ are strong, qualifying verbs that let your client know you are responsible and honest.
Well, once again, I thank you for your time. I look forward to next time when we will evaluate the structure of a proposal and the importance of word choice. Until then, be well and be happy…