COMMON MISTAKES I SEE PEOPLE MAKE IN PROPOSAL WRITING
A proposal is a document where you pitch to do something to a prospective customer.
For the purpose of this write-up, I like to focus on writing proposal to SMEs.
For example – A supermarket has a large space on front of their building and you like to propose to run a car wash on that space.
Or the most common example is people send proposals to prospects about what they sell in their business.
I like to share here a list of the most common mistakes I see in the proposals that get sent to me.
- It does not propose anything. They just write about their products and services in a document, then call it a Proposal. 80% of people are on this table.
- It is not easy to understand. You read the whole document and you are wondering what they are talking about.
- Abuse of the word ‘partnership’. Someone called me yesterday and wanted me to advertise on their TV station. He kept saying he wants a partnership of Accountinghub and their TV station. I struggled to understand that he wants me to be his customer because he kept calling me his partner.
They seem to think that calling you a partner gives you a form of benefit. Lie.
- Big-big English syndrome that confuses everything. I wonder how they do not remember that the prospect should be able to understand a proposal to act on it.
- Does not address any problem that you might have. Looks like a document that missed its way.
- Clearly shows the person did no proper research (even a basic one) about your company. It displays so much lack of understanding of even publicly-available information.
- Addresses only what they want from you and tells nothing about what you will benefit.
- The Proposal is not done on the back of a KLT (Know, Like and Trust). Someone you don’t know just wakes up and sends you a bulky document to start reading. Waste of time.
I never send a proposal without a prior discussion, or introduction or something that wets the ground for me.
- Bulky document that leaves the reader trying to find the main juice of the matter.
- Wrong call-to-action. You are selling a software, you send me a proposal telling me to invite you for a 2 hour meeting to understand my needs. Are you kidding me?
Isn’t it better if your proposal explained your software offer, then maybe included a 3 minutes video showing me inside the software. Then the call-to-action can be to reach out for a more extensive demo if I am interested.
- Copy and paste proposal that shows very clearly that it was distributed to 100 people without any iota of customization to your needs.
A proposal has some basic elements that must be included:
- Who you are
- What you are proposing
- The problems it will solve/The value it will bring
- More details about your proposal offer
- The costs and other conditions
- Why you are the best for the job
- Conclusion and Call-to-action
There are many more mistakes that I cannot remember now.
Please do share the ones you have seen, so we can all learn.
A simple 2-pager proposal written in simple English can do the job.
Sadly, we mostly receive the most confusing 40-page document that doesn’t do the job.
I hope this helps someone.