If you think of the proposal writing process as intimidating, daunting and time consuming, I want you to know that you are not alone. Daunting though it might be, you’ve got to learn to do it well, because writing proposals for almost every profession a key to securing business.
There are lots of reasons that we might be called upon to write a proposal. Perhaps you are a business owner or a sales person who needs to sell a product or service. You might work inside a corporation and need to create a proposal for a new business idea. Or you might need to request grant funding to support your non-profit organization. Regardless of the why, how you craft your proposal will make the difference between winning and losing your chance to get what you want.
For our purposes, I’m going to focus my suggestions based on the idea that your proposal is being written to “sell” something versus creating a proposal request for grant funding or a business loan. While many of the same tips apply, what I’m sharing with you here are the top ways to craft proposals that capture attention and close the sale.
1. Focus on the customer.
2. Use a consultative approach.
3. Define the solution.
4. Describe the implementation.
5. Tell your company story.
Some would say that we are in a “down economy” and while that may certainly be true for some industries, I believe the real truth is that it is NOT the economy. It’s our attitude!
A couple of years ago, I wrote an article called “We Are What We Think About”. I believed it then and I believe it now. And, I would add that our success is directly proportional to the positive OR negative thoughts swirling around in our heads. Even when times seem tough, it is our attitude, our point of view that makes all the difference between succeeding and failing. I refuse to buy into the myth that “no one is buying”. That seems an easy excuse for some not willing to dig in and do the hard work, or those succumbing to their inner fears of scarcity.
Here’s Barb’s #1 Tip: Shift your thinking when times are tough, believe in yourself and what you have to offer, and close your ears to the noise of the pessimistic attitudes that could threaten what you want to achieve. A shift in thinking also means that you must be willing to be creative, look for new approaches to selling your products or services, perhaps work harder and stay focused like never before.
In the June edition of Selling Power Magazine, Scott Lindsey of Besam Entrance Solutions had this to say: “We have a sales force that, for 10 years, has not had to work hard, just go after the low hanging fruit.” Now, with economic changes affecting their business, Lindsey tells his people that “they’ve got to roll up their sleeves; now it’s going to be hard work.” He adds: ” Lots of younger salespeople do not understand that. Anybody can sell when things are really good.” I couldn’t have said it better myself. The true measure of your abilities shines through when you rise above the tough times to accomplish what you decide you want!
Look, don’t get me wrong. I know gas prices are ridiculous, I know that we’ve had serious problems in the mortgage industry, which in turn is affecting other businesses AND at the same time I’ve heard from a number of people in those industries that they are still succeeding. Throughout history there have been down times and there have always been people who’ve succeed in spite of “the down economy”. I choose to be one of those people! What about you?
The author of the best selling book Harmonic Wealth, James Arthur Ray, says, “Live from the outcome!” So what outcome will you live from? Will you be wildly successful by refusing to believe in the fears propagated by others, or be too scared to even give it a try?
Here’s to your sales success!