What documentation must it include? What is the appropriate extension? Do I have to deliver it immediately or is it better to wait a reasonable time? These are questions that every entrepreneur considers when preparing a commercial proposal. Is there an ideal model?
Evidently not. For a proposal to succeed, another has to fail. What we offer you are guidelines that will make yours more attractive and do not end up in the bin.
To address this issue we have consulted with experts who have given us a series of very useful tips. Keep reading!
All commercial proposals must follow the AIDA technique, which is the paradigm of persuasion in written texts: attention, interest, development and action. That is to say, the first thing is to capture your attention, then to awaken your interest, to enter into the development of the idea or the service and finally to take action, it is the time of the budget and the execution deadlines.
In addition to the structure of the document, it is necessary to take into account a series of formal questions:
- Just as there is no ideal proposal, there is no perfect extension either. Each service requires a different development. Find the middle point. A proposal written on two pages is poor and one that has needed 100, cumbersome, in addition to transmitting the message of justifying an exorbitant price. Ideally, occupy about 10 or 15 folios in Word or about 20-30 Power Point screens, and never exceed 50 folios and 80 screens.
- The more extension you have, the more advisable it is to make an index with the contents. And if it reaches the maximum dimensions indicated above, it includes an executive summary where the objective of the proposal, the services to be provided, the execution period and the economic amount are recorded.
- When including technical documentation of the product or material to be used, the résumés of the professionals participating in the project, incorporate them in the form of an annex. And do the same with the references.
Use the rules of clarity in written communication: language always in positive, simple constructions (subject + verb + predicate), especially in the main ideas, short paragraphs, sentences of no more than 15 words and simple structure and persuasive words (achievement, profit, benefit …) Also, if you have to use a technical language, try to do it in the most clear and understandable way, and if possible with footnotes with the explanation of the most technical words.
It is important to avoid all those words that have negative connotations, such as error, danger, breakdown, repair … On the other hand, it is advisable to leave the offer queen for the last place and play with the shortage argument to urge the purchase or hiring.
It can be in Word or Power Point, the important thing is to allow a funnel reading (main title, intro, intermediate titles). If it is extensive, enter each part with a short summary. Remember that it must be attractive and structured to allow quick reading. We must avoid that it is visually heavy. It is best to include graphics that are easy to understand. And it must be very simple because the impression that is reflected in the subconscious of the reader is that an offer of simple appearance is simple to implement.
You should also follow the internal procedures of the company: take a tour of your style guide and add corporate touches.
DEADLINES AND DELIVERY MODE
When should I submit my proposal? Should I do it right away or wait a lot? At this point, we should be guided by the sense of urgency that tells us that, even if we do not have a deadline, we must go as quickly as possible. It is true that in the unconscious of the reader there are two extremes: if you take a long time, you can give the impression of being very busy, but also of disinterest, and if you take very little, you offer the image of anxiety or of unemployment. In the latter case, experts advise a delay of less than 15 days. Although not to be mistaken, the most appropriate is to agree with the client a date and fulfill it.
Try to close the delivery in hand of the proposal, for two reasons: to guarantee a second meeting with the client and to defend it face to face. That does not mean that the advance by e-mail.
And what happens next? Once you have delivered the proposal, the ball is on the client’s roof. You have to give it a reasonable time to weigh it, but you should not neglect it. You have to know that you are there, there must be constant monitoring without falling into excess. If you have not agreed to a meeting in person, call within two or three days of the offer to make sure you received it, and try to close a new call. If you do not get it, try again a week. Questions like “have there been any questions? or what can we help? “contribute to resume a stalled negotiation.
In the event that, finally, your proposal is not accepted, it is important to ask the client the reasons for the rejection in order to obtain information and improve it. If the explanation is something that is in your hand to fix, you can opt for the so-called lock latch: ‘if I guarantee that we can solve this point we would agree…’ Which in more than one case has been a success.
All proposals must start with a short introduction in which they mention who makes the proposal, what they want and what are the objectives of this writing. It is about the client appreciating that we have understood what he is asking us: it is the first stage of the paradigm of persuasion that doctors use, repeating what the client or the patient, in his case, is exposing them, the problem that it must be solved and expressed in writing. It is about reflecting what the client has told us.
AWAKE THE INTEREST
The following section should awaken the interest of your interlocutor, making visible the result and the consequences. It is about showing you an X-ray of the current situation and a future one, if you adopt the solution that you propose.
It is the heart of the proposal. We must explain in detail the products and services proposed and for what reasons we suggest them without forgetting that the success of our work will depend on the professionalism of our arguments. The section consists of two parts:
- Building arguments: People buy when they are convinced that there are benefits for them. We must get all the explanations and details to conclude with a demonstration of the advantages it has for our client.
- Customize the benefit: Never attack with a string of features or technical specifications. It is necessary to make known why a same characteristic and the same advantage does not bring the same benefit to two different clients. An example: Of a car with 300 hp engine (feature), we would say that it has a greater acceleration (advantage) than for a customer can give the benefit that overtaking will be safer and, for another, that of exclusivity. It is about finding that red button of our client and pressing it.
It’s time to include information about your company and your product. Speak now of the resources that you are going to allocate to the project, of similar ones that you have solved satisfactorily, give references of similar situations in which you have been successful and how they improved the client. And show your authority and professional attitude by adopting serious guarantee commitments.
ESTABLISH THE CALENDAR
Include clearly: the duration of the entire process, description of previous work, which must be done by the client (if any) and their own, with details of the necessary periods of time. When the project requires more rigorous planning, the proposal for the creation of a works or follow-up committee and the persons who must integrate it will be established in this section. It must always be very clear the term from which the offer will start to be valid.
This section must include the breakdown of the different items and the total amount, as well as the form of payment (terms, payment instruments and other conditions that need to be reviewed). Some rules are:
- When evaluating work, we must avoid thinking about a price / time or cost, without taking into account all the accumulated know-how.
- There are sectors in which there are more or less fixed rates that can be consulted in professional associations, chambers of commerce or associations, but in many others it is the market that determines them. To know them, try benchmarking with your competitors or with other companies in the sector. You can also ask customers and interested parties.
- It is important to be successful in making an adequate deployment of the personnel you will need for the project. If you put more hours or more people than necessary, you transmit the feeling of low efficiency, and on the contrary you can incur in what is called ‘reckless low’ and agree a much lower price.
- It is interesting to always find the right medium, although it is preferable to aim high, because if the offer interests you, you can always negotiate.
- -And one last point in economic matters: when you present several prices, the experts use the technique of “progressive relief of the client”: it starts with the most expensive tariff and then points out the rest of the concepts in decreasing order.