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What Decision-Makers Don’t Want You To Know About Proposals

Proposals are the manure you throw on business to make it grow. They can make or break a deal. A winning proposal is far more than ideas and budgets – it’s strategic content design. Here’s how to write better proposals.

Austin Powers had to face Dr. Evil. You have to face a proposal committee. There are things that decision-makers would rather that you not know. So don’t tell anyone – read this and then zip it.

Oh Behave!

The process isn’t scientific or impartial –- there is no precise way to evaluate and compare proposals.

It is all about them and not you – decision-makers have objectives to meet, budgets to manage and results to generate. They also have departments, executives, egos and rivalries to handle.

They are experts on their requirements – they are looking for a working partner that will deliver great results at little to no risk.

They won’t read your proposal word-for word – they will skim it or jump around to check the things that interest them the most.

They are buying strategy, confidence, chemistry and a relationship – concepts, logistics and budget are important, but in the end, they have to defend that they made the “best decision.”

They want to feel that they can claim the solutions – when it’s all over, they want to look good and to be able to take the credit for success.

Your proposal should be written and designed to do one thing and one thing only: Explain why they should hire you.

Your single objective is to show that you understand the prospect’s needs, asked the right questions and listened carefully and that you can be relied upon to provide a compelling, affordable solution.

The Dr. Evil Of Boilerplate

If your sell ratio has been dropping, the problem may be boilerplate material and how much you’re using. Beyond the requirements, if you’re saying the same things that every other company will say – don’t say it. Remember, customers are buying the differences.

•  Be short and cut it to essentials.
•  Make it personal, it’s not a doctoral thesis.
•  Concentrate on the client and what they asked for.
•  Explain why they should hire you.
•  Demonstrate your answers to their needs and the differences you provide.
•  Take on an attitude of service.
•  Make it easy to buy your company.
•  Be the best decision.

Super Secret Mojo That Gives You The Edge

The RFP has a deadline of 4:00 Wednesday afternoon, so when does every supplier deliver proposals? 4:00 Wednesday afternoon! Be early and deliver your proposal at 9:00 Tuesday morning. You’ll look more professional and organized. The proposal will be read first – it is human nature – and clients will give it more thought and consideration. Best of all, your proposal becomes the unofficial standard and all the others become just part of the pile. Being early gives you the edge.

Danger Is My Middle Name

Think strategically and focus on what will motivate the client to select your company. Here are some inside things to remember: The stronger the relationship, the shorter the proposal. A personal connection puts you at the top of the list, so invest the time to have a continuing relationship with clients. Don’t just come in for an RFP and vanish once the invoice is paid.

The more expensive the job – the bigger the proposal. Subconsciously, clients see your proposal as an indication of how much you value their business. The competition comes in with colorful, art-directed proposals and you come it with 12 pages you created in PowerPoint. Mini-Me has better odds.

Take all the fluff, boilerplate and self-serving verbiage out of your proposal – zip it. Make every word speak directly to the client’s need. Be exciting, reassuring and confident. Sell the chemistry

In the end, become the “best decision.” Yeah, baby, yeah!

If you want to know more about winning proposals and strategic content just click on CONTACT US and get in touch.

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How Not To Fail At Anything – Ever!


About the Author
Andy Johnston is a multi-faceted communication professional who has a comfortable way of working with people. Andy is an Emmy Award winning communicator known for his energy, humor, creativity and his unique ability to discover the key results that must be generated – and then to develop ingenious ways to engage and motivate audiences. He has broad experience in strategic planning, messaging, creative direction, marketing, and events. One of the things Andy says often is, “How can we make it better?”
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