In part one, we looked how to get the pen to paper, so to speak, when writing a B2B business proposal. But once the proposal is researched and written, the work is not over. Here are the last 3 steps to getting that signature.
Step 4: Be Right on the Money
First and foremost, proposals should have a quote, not estimates. While the terms are used interchangeably, they are not the same. Estimates are guesses to how much time and resources a project will take, while a quote is a definitive answer with clear set needs. Ad hoc hours are unavoidable in some cases, but that should also be clearly outlined and decided in the proposal as well. Similar to the terms and conditions of an agreement, solid prices protect you from feeling undercompensated.
Step 5: Nail the tone
When it comes to speaking with, well anyone, there is are so many tonal choices. How someone speaks with their mother is going to be very different than how they speak with their friend, obviously. The right tone in business documents isn’t so obvious. What some companies see as casually inviting others might see as unprofessional and what one feels is professional, will seem stuffy to another. Towing the line is difficult, but there are some rules that are universal.
- Watch your words – While this document is addressing a hole or need in a company, no one will benefit from scary words and threatening predictions. Try for words with positive connotations. For example, ‘investment’ over ‘cost’ and ‘challenge’ over ‘problem’.
- Use active voice – For everything. Seriously. Passive voice kills momentum in any statement and a proposal is no place for loss of power and expertise.
- Be concise – Make sure it hits all the important information, but don’t get carried away with any section. A proposal should be easily understood by many audiences.
The right tone in business documents isn’t so obvious. Read more on how to get it right: Click To Tweet
Step 6: Be Loud and Proud
I’m not talking about actual audio (though video is now possible with paperless proposal softwares), I’m saying let your passion be so obvious that there is no denying you are the choice. Do not lose sight of what the proposal is meant to do, which is to relay an amazing plan to someone who is in need of guidance, but also do not forget to show how amazingly inspired your team’s work is. In the words of every English and Journalism professor on the planet, ‘show, don’t tell’.
Let your passion be so obvious that there is no denying you are THE choice for the job. Click To Tweet
Within our own proposals, our CEO, Maren Hogan, wrote a “No-Asshole” policy that is included in each ‘About Us’ section. Though the statement sounds harsh and could definitely leave some clients stirred, it is one we all stick behind.
“When you stick to your guns about something that’s important to the culture of your firm, not only do you avoid working with assholes (yay!) but you help the RIGHT clients self-select into your organization.” –Maren Hogan, CEO and Founder of Red Branch Media
Ultimately, the business proposal is the first date of a professional relationship. It is a place to be courteous, but also completely honest. One of our current partners signed our proposal immediately after reading the statement and dropped us an email to ensure we knew what grabbed their attention. What has kept their team, is the quality we promised to provide. At the end of the day, if you believe in your work and the plan you are proposing, then a ‘no’ will be not be a disappointment, but instead confirmation the partnership was not meant to be. Transversely, a ‘yes’ is support that what you are doing, is resonating with people.