I mean, you can send a plain old email if you want but shouldn’t your Quote or Proposal be somewhere between mind-boggling and memorable?
What would you have to do for the person who gets it to call someone from another office to say, “come look at this proposal.”
That’s your yard-stick.
The cover: Should be the graphic grabber that leads to a great proposal.
Make me want to open it and see what’s inside. Get a copy of the prospect’s logo and put it on the cover. It’s a small touch, but, providing it’s done well, adds a lot of punch.
The graphics: 14 point type is ideal for body text. Serif fonts (with little squiggles) are easier on the eyes and so easier to read – although a sans serif font can look ‘cleaner’ and more modern.
My favourite fonts are Calibri or Museo.
The paper: must be heavy enough that the type does not show through.
(And yes, you should print and post it. You know that you only get one chance to make a first impression and your beautifully produced, eye-catching quote will hang around way longer, and make you look way better than that easy-to-send, and easy-to-delete- and-forget-about email version!
Use a high-quality binding: Don’t just staple it. It’s too easy for the thing to start coming apart and awkward to flip back and forth between pages. Use a clear, heavy plastic on the front, and a piece of cover stock on the back.
Laser printing is a must: If you don’t own a laser printer, get to know someone who does. Many printers will do laser printing for you.
Don’t look at your proposal with your eyes.
Look at it through the eyes of your prospect.
Why all this attention to detail? Two simple truths:
1. You want the order, don’t you? Why chance it with a less than great proposal?
2. The image created by your proposal is the image your prospect has of your company.
Your proposal is the last step of a long courtship. Put your best foot forward without stubbing your toe!!
Part 4: The Style…
The skill of drafting sales words on a proposal is an integral part of the process.
Some people have a hard time coming up with the appropriate words. Not because they can’t write, but because they don’t know the rules of writing. Here are some writing rules and guidelines to help turn your proposals into sales:
1. Use a headline above the body of text to state your objective.
2. Use short sentences and short paragraphs. (for emphasis)
3. Edit, edit, edit. Take out every word not integral to the purpose or objective of the communication.
Avoid heavy syrup. Half the number of adjectives, half the prepositional phrases, and most adverbs can be eliminated. Look behind commas to see if the entire phrase is worthy of keeping. Usually, it’s not.
4. Keep the proposal short. The shorter it is, the better chance you have of the proposal being read and understood.
5. Use bullets to break up the monotony. They make the proposal easy to read for your customer.
• Use bullets to make the proposal seem (or be) short and sweet.
• Use bullets to emphasise the most important points.
• Indent the bullets.
6. Don’t bold your name, bold what’s important to the prospect. Your name is among the least important words in the proposal.
7. Bold stuff to get attention but only when absolutely necessary.
8. Edit out (almost) all words that end in “ly”. 9. Avoid superlatives (“est”).
10. Avoid the word “unique.” And “exciting”. Almost certainly neither is true, and you don’t want to lie in your proposal/quote
11. Don’t misspell a word. One man misspelt “potato”, and he paid for it dearly. Luckily he didn’t have a very important job.
12. Include the extra; the unexpected.
Enclose an article or something pertaining to your business. Something that makes your prospect think you went beyond the norm to serve and communicate with them.
13. Write a great (short and sweet) cover letter…
• Don’t make the prospect vomit when he reads your cover letter. Make the letter easy to digest.
• Keep it to one page, and it will be most effective. • Don’t say “thank you for the opportunity,” instead try “we are proud to offer.”
• Don’t resell your product just sell the next action or step in the sales cycle and build some confidence and rapport. Don’t use the letter as a sales pitch; just use it as a sales tool.
• Never say “thanks again”. It’s not necessary to thank anyone again. Once is enough, twice is grovelling.
• Ask for response by a certain date.
• Use a nice, non-beg, professional closing like: “Thank you for your time and consideration. I’ll call you on Tuesday.”
• Sign your first name only. It’s more friendly.
• P.S. If you want to make your plea or point twice, use a P.S.
14. It must read like a book. It must be totally understandable without anyone explaining anything. It must be compelling. It shouldn’t read like advertising copy, but it is a selling tool. A critical tool. It’s your ‘close’ and the reasons why they should buy restated on paper.
Part 5: The Delivery…
When possible, hand deliver.
This is the best way to be sure that your proposal will get into the hands of your prospect.
Think about it, wouldn’t you be impressed if that important proposal was personally delivered to you? Royal Mail will do a fine job though as second-best.
And a nice envelope, don’t forget.
Here’s the toughest rule:
- Ask someone smart and impartial to critique your proposal.
- Accept their constructive criticism and use it as a learning tool.
- Knowing the rules and practising them will lead to effective proposals.
- Effective proposals are a result of effective sales presentations.
- Proposals should be the solidifying factor – not the sales pitch.
- The proposal should document what has been said and agreed…
- …and it should make your company look amazing and enhance your reputation.
Over the past few months I have worked with several of my clients on how they present their quote or proposal and it has dramatically improved their conversion rate already – so if you would like to win more customers for your business, now could be the time to update your proposal or quote.
If you would like a free analysis of your existing quote/proposal system just let me know.