In the current economic climate it is more important than ever that organisations increase their win-rate and sell more products and services to more clients. Often, one of the first steps towards making a new sale is writing an effective proposal. This is your opportunity to showcase not only your products and services but also the professionalism, credibility and effectiveness of your organisation and it warrants spending considerable time and effort making sure you ‘hit the spot’ and give your organisation the best chance of winning new business.
Follow our five step plan for writing winning business proposals and you should see an increase in the success rate of your bids and proposals.
1. Know your buyer: More important than anything else, make sure you have an in-depth understanding of your customer and before you even start writing be clear about what they require and what will be the winning factors for them. Hopefully you will have already had the opportunity to speak with them before getting started on your proposal but if not, ask for a few minutes on the phone or email a list of questions. And it goes without saying that you should do your own research on the client organisation; see if they have appeared in the news recently and familiarise yourself with their website so that you understand their brand ethos and values as well as practicalities such as locations, range of services and key personnel.
2. Focus on your solution: The majority of readers will be most interested in what you can do for them, how you propose to deliver your solution and how much it will cost so make sure this information is clearly defined and forms the core of your proposal. Show them that you understand their challenges and can offer a targeted solution. Make sure you explicitly highlight the benefits of your solution and if appropriate illustrate with samples or extracts.
3. Demonstrate your credibility: Potential customers will be more convinced of the value of your products and services if you can give concrete examples of how other similar organisations have benefitted from your services. If the competition has bought then they should be buying too!
4. Speak your buyer’s language: As a general rule of thumb, use every day language that is easy to understand yet persuasive. Your reader is more likely to be won over by clear and simple language rather than complex structure or impenetrable terminology. Unless of course you know that your proposal will be read by technical experts in which case your proposal should use the language they understand. This is with the proviso that many proposals are read by multiple readers who may not all share the same level of technical expertise.
5. Appeal to all their senses: We don’t all necessarily process information in the same way and successful proposals reflect this by displaying information and using language that appeals to different processing styles – or to all the senses. Make sure that your proposal is visually attractive using graphics, images and colour as appropriate. Include statistics and other data for the more analytical thinkers among your decision makers. And finally use a variety of language that will appear to auditory (harmonise, resonate, clearly express) and kinaesthetic (energise, solid foundations, concrete examples) styles as well as more logical approaches.
Effective Proposal Writing can be challenging but combine these steps with the core principles of good business writing such concise style or thorough proof-reading and you should see an improvement your win rate.
© Communicaid Group Ltd. 2013