You gotta know that modern software and a bevy of specifically-trained digital layout specialists is lifting the tide for everyone when it comes to creating absolutely gorgeous proposals. Who knows what tomorrow’s technology will produce for us. Perhaps 3-D versions of a proposal delivered by hologram, featuring the best-looking and best-sounding salesperson technology can conjure up. Intriguing to think of, isn’t it?
Despite the fact that very few proposals are unattractive these days, I hear from salespeople that it seems fewer of them actually get read—or if they are delivered in person, not enough of them are being sold. So what is going on? What the high-powered graphics packages don’t take into account is that a proposal must me more than a pretty face. CONTENT trumps appearance 9.9 times out of 10. A plain-looking proposal with strong content is more likely to sell than a graphically appealing production with weak or generic content.
So what does good content look like in a proposal?
- A cover page that includes the name of the idea or plan you are proposing and the team involved in bringing the sales process to this point (people from the prospect’s organization and yours).
- A summary of specific needs expressed by the prospect’s team.
- A tailored plan with enough detail to support how you will implement it and how each element ties back to the prospect’s expressed needs.
- A list of capabilities and account service standards, tailored to your plan, that will give the prospect a sense of what to expect when they deal with you—a good place to list other team members from your organization that will be involved.
- A list of recommendations on how to implement this proposal.
- A critical path of activities that led up to the meeting and the next steps by all parties to implement your plan.
- Maybe an appendix with research and your product information, but only if really needed. Keep this separate from the proposal.
Including this kind of content ensures you will not be delivering an “all bun and no beef” proposal. BTW, once your content is good, please do have the designers make it breathtaking! We love to see beautiful proposals, but only when the content is solid. You know what they say about beauty being skin deep.