Proposal writing that POPS

Three proposals arrive…

  1. Proposal for Warner Plumbing.
  2. Proposal: Warner Plumbing.
  3. How Warner Plumbing can reduce costs by 40% in 60 days.

You’re in charge at Warner Plumbing: which proposal do you think you’ll read first? In this post, we’re going to show you how to easily make proposal writing--from the intro to the dotted line--more effective for your business by making it more impressive for your prospects. It’s about content, tone, and business metrics.

Business writing 1

In proposal writing, content isn’t king...

Ok, a bit of a misleading header--the only reason content isn’t king in proposal writing is because that implies there’s a queen or a prince or a whatever, when CONTENT IS THE ONLY THING THAT MATTERS. If you’re not focused on content, you’re focused on… what? A shiny folder for your business proposal? Fancy binding? Colored binder clips? Focus on content and--most importantly--keep it scannable.

How scannable content helps you sell: no matter how solid your proposal writing skills may be, the fact is that most people won’t appreciate them. Because most people don’t read--they scan. You need to write for scanners, not for readers.

It’s easier than you think: start each sentence with a benefit, insert a customer-facing benefit into every sub-head, use short lists (lists of what…? benefits).  Once you’re done, @@scan each page of your proposal--what’s the first thing you see? If it wasn’t a client benefit, try again.@@

Are you gonna write good, or are you going to write well?

It’s ok to “write good” in business proposals--it might even be more important than writing well. Just make sure the tone you create is one that works for your clients. In most cases, you can be colloquial and conversational, and ending a sentence with a preposition is nothing to worry about ;)

But in some cases--suppose you're presenting your cybersecurity business to a college--your tone should be more formal and your grammar impeccable.

It can help if you create a persona as an audience for your proposal and then write to them. For example, you’re a sales rep on Gilligan’s Island. Sometimes you’re pitching to Gilligan, and other times to the Howells: ensure you’re writing a proposal that’s music to their respective ears.

Business writing 2

Run the metrics

Maybe we’re different, but we like seeing the numbers sooner rather than later: don’t bore us with your corporate history or comparison charts or CVs--give us the numbers.

And if you don’t lead with the success metrics you plan to deliver to your client, don’t wait too long to present them. Ensure that when you scan the page these numbers--the heart of your proposal--pop right out at the reader.

NOTE: if you don’t know what the success metrics for your prospect are, do the number-crunching and find out, because it’s usually the best written proposal with the best numbers that wins.

If you'd like to learn more about this topic or see IQX for yourself with a free demo, contact us.