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Week 040 – Make a Checklist for Your Proposal – Chapter 10

What does the ideal proposal look like? It begins with the client’s current situation and a description of the problem. This is followed by the goal, implementation and only then the financial aspect. Avoid details. First read my checklist and then draw up your own.

Does the presentation of your proposal reflect the value of your service?
The first impression counts! If you’re presenting a written proposal, the feel of the paper should be good. Avoid cheap folders. If your proposal is being sent by email, have a graphic designer create the basic layout.

What do the images in your proposal express?
I wonder why so many companies miss the chance to emotionalize their proposals. Don’t limit yourself to ordinary images of your product, but add emotional depictions of its benefits. Faces and people generate emotions.

Do you use colorful accents in your proposals?
A proposal is a professional document. Divide the pages into colored segments to help the reader grasp the essential messages.

  • I understand what you are worried about
  • I understand what you wish to change in the future
  • I have the competence to solve it with you
  • The investment is worth it and affordable

Have you eliminated all platitudes?

Make a Checklist © Fotolia 2015 / fotogestoeber

Make a Checklist © Fotolia 2015 / fotogestoeber

“We hereby permit ourselves to convey our non-binding proposal to you.” Lots of fluff, little content. Get rid of the fluff and write naturally. If you can’t find a more suitable formulation, then that particular passage is probably superfluous.
Is your proposal free from unnecessarily cryptic terms and abbreviations?
You probably know the difference between CPT (Carriage Paid To) and CIP (Carriage and Insurance Paid to). To most decision makers, however, these internationally used abbreviations or “Incoterms” will not mean much. Better to leave out the abbreviations or explain them.
Are all important nouns preceded by an adjective?
It is very easy to improve upon a statement by livening up a noun with a fitting adjective. After all, a machine could also be a high-performance, reliable, energy-saving, maintenance-friendly, indestructible machine.

Are your products and services described – insofar as it’s possible – in emotionalized terms?
How can you incorporate words like “joy” or “passion”? Or mention emotions like “fear” and “pain”, which the customer can avoid by working with you.
Have you kept the policy of being “conspicuously different”?
Can you imagine someone saying, “I recently received a fantastic proposal! It was exactly the same as all the others I’ve received. I was so overjoyed that it didn’t catch my attention at all.” Hardly. On the other hand, that which is different stays in the memory.

Are there metaphors, pictures or reminders in your proposal?
You know that it’s easier to remember a picture than a list of facts. Therefore make sure to use appropriate pictures if possible. If for some reason, it’s not possible to attach a picture, be sure to use metaphors and verbal images. You’re making it easier for the customer to place and remember positive features of your service.

Do you quote the customer in your proposal?
Avoid insipid terms like “quality”, “service, “ or “competence”; use concrete statements instead. Rephrase quotes your customer has made in earlier conversations, this will make it easier for him to understand you.

Did you include references of existing customers in your proposal?
The end of your proposal should contain favorable comments made by satisfied customers. Choose those comments that are most relevant to your present customer.

Have you eliminated all negatively formulated statements?
You cannot picture “no strawberries.” When faced with this word combination, we first think of strawberries, then make an intellectual leap to the “no.” “Without damages” presents a similar problem, because you are forcing the customer to actively think of “damages.” Is that something you want? Certainly you don’t.

Have you replaced all passive constructions with active ones?
This is a widespread and annoying habit: Those who want to express themselves in a refined manner use the passive voice. Instead of “The product gives this result”, they say, “This result is brought about by the product.” Go through your proposal for these passive constructions and replace them all.

Have you incorporated elements that rouse the customer’s curiosity about your offer as a whole?
Feel free to use phrases like, “As you will see later . . .” or even, “As will be shown in the implementation part . . .”

In the return on investment part, have you divided the sums into price fragments that are easy and practical for the customer to evaluate?
That means, for example, stating the calculatory price per participant rather than the total fee for training all 45 members.

Let these ideas inspire you to draw up your own checklist. As a result you will make fewer mistakes and better proposals.

Here’s a checklist:

  • If the proposal has already been in use for another client: Are there, by accident, any names or brands of the other client left?
  • Does your proposal consist only of hard facts, or is it an individual solution for the customer?
  • Is the given information comprehensible?
  • Did you think of the “Why”?
  • Are the most important benefits near the price tag?
  • Are the prices reasonable?
  • Can you name the ROI in Dollar?

The quality of your product is likely to increase if you make use of such a list, since you will make fewer mistakes while proposing to a client.

This was the last episode in of the chapter “Proposing”, the next chapter will focus price negotiations and include tips for proper language amongst others.

Best wishes,
Stephan Heinrich