Selling is more art than science. Most small businesses recognize that there is no magic formula for convincing a client to sign on the dotted line. Sure, there are certain elements you can't ignore. But the business that gets the sale is the one who is most capable of discerning and responding to their client's needs and nuances.
Yet when it comes to writing a proposal, many small businesses are content to hand their clients a one-size-fits-all package of company material with a brief cover letter addressed to the key decision-maker. Does that make sense?
Of course it doesn't. The proposal you hand a prospective client should be just as detailed and informed as your actions throughout the rest of the selling process. Compiling that kind of proposal doesn't have to be difficult. All it takes is a little effort and a little know-how.
So how do you write a great proposal? Here are some tips to get you started:
A proposal is not supposed to provide your client with an exhaustive catalog of facts about your company and its products. Instead, it's supposed to give them the information they need to make an informed and educated buying decision. Therefore, be discriminating about the information you include. If it doesn't do anything to help the client make a decision, it probably doesn't need to be in the proposal.
Introduce Your Company
To begin with, your proposal should provide the client with summary information about your company. Although much of this information will stay the some from one client to the next, some it needs to be customized on a case by case basis. For example, when you refer to previous clients make sure to include clients who are in the same industry as the one that will receive the proposal.
Address the Problem the Client Needs Solved
Next, your proposal needs to demonstrate that you understand the problem your clients needs to solve and the environment in which they do business. To do this, you'll need to ask questions, and then more questions, and then more questions after that. It's impossible to propose a solution until you completely understand the pressures your client faces. When you discuss the problem in the proposal, make sure to do so in the client's language to further demonstrate the depth of your familiarity.
Discuss How You Will Deliver a Solution
The entire proposal builds up to the part where you provide details about how your company can provide solutions to the client's problems. This is your chance to really shine, so don't blow it! Be as comprehensive as possible in describing the ways your product is better than anyone else's and how it uniquely addresses the key issues your client will base their decision on.