For some entrepreneurs, proposals are the bread and butter of their business. They know that a great proposal makes for a great first impression. Other small business people create proposals only occasionally. Whatever the case, one thing that is equally true is that good proposals have a few things in common, as do bad proposals.
What’s the difference? Let’s find out. Here are the things that tend to be most important in any good proposal:
1. A clear benefit: A proposal is a sales document. It needs to sell the reader on the idea, and the way to do that is to show the reader how the idea benefits him or her. It is not about you, it is about them. Will you make them a lot of money, will they get a bigger market share, or what? The key to the proposal is showing the reader that following your lead makes sense for them.
2. Honesty: Honesty in a proposal can take many forms. It means being up front about the financials and not throwing pie-in-the-sky numbers out there. It also means letting your personality and passion shine through. Don’t be a robot or Super Businessperson, be yourself.
And also, be honest about any challenges. You should not just avoid talking about possible problems with this idea, but instead, mention them and explain how you plan to deal with them. Your reader will be impressed.
3. A secret sauce: You need to be offering people something that is new, unique, different, or better in some respect, or why else would someone invest in your idea? What is it that you bring to the party that is different and better than what everyone else has to offer?
That is what you need to do show.
4. Avoid jargon and mumbo jumbo: Don’t try to act too smart. Don’t use words that have nebulous meanings. Say what you mean, mean what you say, say it in plain language, and share your vision and passion.
5. Wait on revealing the cost: A proposal is a marketing tool, and as such, remember Marketing 101: Stress benefits, benefits, benefits. While price is important and must be discussed, do so only after you have wowed reader with your crisp writing, powerful arguments, supporting information, and a boatload of benefits.
Then you can go in for the close.