3-Point Checklist for Persuasive Proposals

More than 70% of you who took last week’s survey felt that “Winning bids is tougher this year than last”. This despite the Great Recession  having technically ended in 2009.

Yet winning bids (this year, last year, or next), is all about the persuasiveness of your sales proposal.

So here are three points to quickly check whether your proposal is persuasive. If not, you’d better backup and rethink submitting it, this is fatally true for large dollar bids.

The following are all Yes-No. You either do them, or you don’t. If you want to win more bids, you’d better get Yes on all three of them.

#1) Your proposal describes your customer’s situation – Y/N
#2) Your company history is at, or near the front of your proposal – Y/N
#3) Your proposal describes a bid-specific service solution – Y/N


Here’s a brief explanation of the 3 points in the checklist.

#1) Your proposal describes your customer’s situation – Y/N

Can anyone reading your proposal tell what that customer’s situation is regarding that contract service?

Will they be able tell what the problems that customer wants fixed, or the improvements they want made?

If you’re not playing back to your customer their situation, you’ve left the persuasiveness out of your proposals.


#2) Your company history is at, or near the front of your proposal – Y/N

NOTE: This is for self-initiated, non-RFP proposals – ones where you’re not having to answer customers’ questions.

98% of the time when a customer says “Yeah, go ahead and give me a proposal” (or words to that effect), you have effectively qualified your firm as a creditable supplier to that customer.

Why now, in your proposal, would you distract them by FIRST telling them about your company? Ever remember hearing “selling is not telling”?

Use your proposal persuasively, include your company history farther back in your proposal.

All other “qualifying” info (references, company history, etc.) is evidence of your ability to deliver on what you’re proposing. It is after all a “sales proposal”, not a “marketing opportunity”.

At this point in the buying cycle, persuade the customer to choose you (selling), don’t inform them (marketing).


#3) Your proposal describes a bid-specific service solution – Y/N

Be honest with yourself. Does your proposal describe in writing (not the conversation in your head) “who” in your company will be doing “what”, “when” and “how” at the customer’s site(s)?

Is your service solution in this proposal different from your other proposals because this customer-bid-situation is different?

Yes, many RFPs are poorly written and their questions can be worded ambiguously. But that doesn’t let you off the hook. It’s your bid to win or lose, and you do it with your proposal’s persuasiveness.


Challenge: Do Your Proposals Meet All 3?

If they do, you’re a rare bird. And I’ll bet you’re pretty successful too. Proposal win rate greater than 33%?

Post a comment up here if you meet all 3 points listed in your proposals, I’d like to here from you.

If you don’t meet all 3 points on this checklist, why not? I’d also like to here why.

IMAGE by Abbey Hendrickson

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