How to write a really persuasive proposal
What’s the difference between a passable proposal and a deal-winning proposal?
Truth be told, there’s no magic bullet to answer this question — just like there’s no foolproof fix for any sales or marketing challenge.
But there are a few steps you can take to immediately make your proposals more persuasive.
3 simple steps to help you create insanely persuasive proposals
- Hit the right objectives in each section
- Get better responses from your SMEs
- Consistently use your best content
1. Hit the right objectives in each section
Hitting objectives really means two things:
- Answering the question presented in the request for proposal (RFP).
- Making sure you’ve really answered the question.
The former means you understand the basics of what to include in each section of the proposal. Sounds simple, but it can actually be rather tricky.
The second objective — making sure you’ve answered what they’re really asking — is trickier. It comes down to whether you’ve proven your worth, differentiated yourself, and answered the “so what” question.
For example, you might answer “Who are you?” by detailing that you’re a digital marketing agency … but that’s not really what your prospect cares about.
For every answer you come up with, ask yourself, “so what?” You should eventually land on an answer that truly resonates with your prospect.
In the previous example, you might end up describing your company as a marketing agency that, on average, doubles your clients’ leads. That’s the kind of client-focused, results-oriented response that can really turn heads.
While there is no perfect formula for being persuasive, there are a few people who are really good at it that you can learn from (even if they’re not proposal writers).
Here are a few resources to help you write persuasive RFP responses:
This short, simple, and extremely actionable video will help you write an about us or background that makes buyers pay attention.
By Ann Handley, the author of the Wall Street Journal bestseller Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content. This presentation will teach you the three key attributes of high-quality content.
This helpful article is the perfect checklist for finalizing your proposal. It will help you make your content stronger, more concise, and more persuasive.
Key takeaway: First, make sure you’re providing the basic requirements for each proposal section. Then, find the deeper benefit behind your response. Spell out how you’re different from your competitors and how you’re providing exactly what your reader needs.
2. Get better responses from your SMEs
Trying to wring quality RFP responses from your subject matter experts (SMEs) can be difficult.
Fortunately, many experts have crafted powerful solutions to this challenge.
In a presentation titled “APB: A Writing Model for Reluctant Writers, Enigmatic Engineers, and Circuitous SMEs,” Julia Quigley of Lohfeld Consulting Group offered an easy-to-follow formula for getting better responses from SMEs.
APB stands for approach summary, process, and benefits explanation, the three elements that should be included in any well-crafted proposal. While her presentation specifically relates to winning government projects, the approach is widely applicable.
Key takeaway: Most of your team will not understand how to write a section independently, and they won’t know what information to include. A structured response style can help them quickly understand what you need.
3. Consistently use your best content
There’s nothing more infuriating than working tirelessly to create great content and realizing no one in your company is using it.
But while it’s easy to think they’re being stubborn or lazy by not using your hard work, it’s more likely they just can’t find it.
The number one mistake proposal writers make is spending tons of time writing responses and content, but not organizing it or making it accessible.
Because if your team can’t find the content you create, your hard work is wasted.
So whatever system or proposal software you use to organize your content and/or security questionnaire responses, make sure it provides easy access for all your stakeholders.
Your organization system should also clarify how current and accurate content is by specifying:
- Who wrote the content. (Don’t muddy the waters by sharing logins.)
- When it was written.
- A revision history.
- When the content was last updated.
- How often it’s been used.
The last one is really critical. It’s extremely helpful to track which responses your team uses most often and whether they’re part of winning proposals. Then, you can help ensure your team uses your best-performing content — making your proposals that much more convincing.
It’s also a really good idea to assign owners to important questions and content, and assign dates for when those responses need to be updated (quarterly, annually, etc.).
Key takeaway: You can write the most persuasive content in the world, but if your team can’t find or maintain it, it’s useless.
How we can help
RFP360 makes it easy to gather, store, organize, and maintain persuasive content so you can quickly create proposals that lead to wins.
“Since implementation, our productivity has increased by 85 percent, and our throughput has increased by 200 percent,” said Michael Makatura, sr. director of analytics & sales operations at PlanSource. “We’re accomplishing more with less effort.”
Learn how RFP360 streamlines the proposal creation process so you can focus on what really matters — creating compelling content that delivers jaw-dropping results.