You have to feel sorry for customers. They have to read some pretty ropey sales proposals. Many of them are the length of War and Peace, all ‘we, we, we’, rather than ‘you, you, you’, with the price hidden in the deepest darkest recesses of page 73. It’s a wonder customers buy anything at all. It’s almost like we don’t want to sell to them.

I’m making the crazy assumption that you do actually want to win the business in the first place. So, put your yourself in the customers’ shoes: what information do they need to make a decision? It’s easier to write a complex, long proposal than a simple, short one, because with the short one you have to be ruthless about the quality of what you leave in the document. Present your information clearly, succinctly, effectively:

– What are you – the customer! – looking to do?

– What do you need in order to do that?

– What are we – the provider! – going to do for you to get you there?

– Why is this the best of your alternatives?

– How much will this cost?

– What benefits will accrue?

– How will these benefits translate into point 1 above?

Your customers are super-busy, so make it easy for them to get what they need from your sales proposal. Good signposting through your proposal will do this for you. If you absolutely have to include a ton of stuff, and a weighty dossier plays to your advantage (I can’t think of many reasons why this is the case unless they’re statutory), then front-load the information so the essential information is up front, and the standard guff is at the back, ideally in an appendix.

For more on this, including a recommended proposal flow, see here.