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Developing a Proposal to Close the Sale

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Writing a strong proposal is the final step in closing the sale with a new client. The goal of the proposal is to review the scope and terms of the project with the prospective client. If written well, the proposal should be used as a sales tool to help close the deal. A proposal can also be a formality to recap previous verbal discussions and once signed, it marks the official start of the project. Learn the six most important components to include when writing a proposal.

Introduction

The value of strongly written introduction is often overlooked in proposals. However, an introduction is your opportunity to reintroduce yourself and skills to the client and to summarize the key parts of the project, including the client's speciic goal or reason for requiring the project. Keep in mind, the introduction should be short and to the point, and usually no longer than a single paragraph. The introduction should include three key items, including a brief recap of the client's business; an overview of you and your business; and a statement expressing why the client sought your company's help. The final sentence of the introduction should clearly state, or restate, the objective of the project.

Project Overview

The second component of a proposal is to provide a detailed overview of the scope of the project. This may take two to three paragraphs in order to explain the project, identify each of its objectives, and describe how you will meet the objectives, or what methodologies you will employ. When identifying the objectives, it is helpful to use bullet points to call attention to this important part of the overview. The objectives should be succinct and clearly worded. Your goal is to use this opportunity to ensure that you and the client agree on the goals of the project. This allows you to move forward with the project and be more successful in achieving the desired results.

Analysis or Definition of Success

The ability to define what constitutes success, or how success will be measured, is a critical piece of any proposal. It can go a long way in preventing future misunderstandings with the client, and more importantly, helping you show the project is a success. In this paragraph, summarize the results that are expected for each of the project objectives. If there are more than a few objectives, it may be helpful to use bullets, or numbering, to list the quantitative or qualitative measurement for each objective.

Timing and Completion Dates

Use this section of the proposal to review any agreed-upon timeframes for starting and completing the project. Even if timing has not been previously discussed, this is the opportunity to provide the client with estimated completion dates for the project objectives. To avoid possible confusion, reference specific calendar dates (such as, September 15) as the starting date, but then specify a range of time that it will take to reach completion (such as, 10 business days or one to three months). If you provide a specific calendar date for the completion, be sure to reiterate that it is an estimate, or that it is dependent upon certain information being provided by the client.

Pricing and Options

There are two approaches to take with this section of the proposal. For most projects, you may want to simply review the estimated cost of the project, along with details for how expenses are charged. For extensive projects, or those that could occur in several phases, consider providing the client with two to three strategy and pricing options. For example, as option one, you could provide a flat for the entire scope of the project. Option two could include a menu of a'la carte pricing so the client could pick the components most important, especially if working with a limited budget. And, option three, could break the project into phases, so that the cost could be spread out over time but all pieces of the project get accomplished.

Terms and Conditions

This is the catch-all section of the proposal. It provides an opportunity to detail payment terms, such as when and how payment is to be received. You can also use this area to discuss how expenses are billed; how or if you work with sub-contractors or other staff members; who is the point of contact or decision-maker for the client; and whether or not there are any guarantees or other special conditions for the project. Complete terms and conditions can be detailed in a contract, but this should highlight any special considerations that the client should be made aware of as part of the proposal.
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