Doctor or Post-Hole Digger?

There are two approaches to writing proposals.

The post-hole digger approach is about efficiency.

I’m not putting down people who dig post-holes. They do have to space the holes evenly and dig to the right depth. Their job is about consistent repetition. And to win that game they have to be efficient.

However, maximizing efficiency when writing proposals is death. It puts the focus on the writer/contractor. Choices are made for easier production. And no matter how efficient a proposal was to make, if it doesn’t win it’s worthless.

How can you tell if a proposal was written by a post-hole digger?

Simple. Read it. If you can’t tell what that particular customer’s problems are, then it was written with a post-hole in mind.

Every proposal must identify the customer’s specific problems. That’s what your offering is trying to solve. Your solution is what customers buy. This is the consultative part of all modern sales methods. Even if its for a one-page proposal only. Especially if it’s for a one-page proposal.

Now think about your doctor. He or she takes your temperature, looks down your throat, and takes your blood pressure BEFORE prescribing medicine. After the exam, good doctors will tell you about your illness before they tell you how they’re going to cure it.

Same is true with good proposals. In them you can read about the customer’s illness. You’ll then read about a proposed solution. This solution is for a specific course of medicine. It’s carefully prescribed for what ails that customer.

Good proposals have all that – customers’ ills and a prescribed solution for a cure. These are the persuasive proposals, and they’re the ones that win more often.

How do you write proposals, as a doctor or as a post-hole digger?

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Chris Arlen
President, Service Performance

Technorati: proposals, selling, writing

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