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The Most Important Thing You Need to Write a Persuasive Proposal

We recently wrote an article that identified the 5 Ingredients of Proposal Persuasion. We’re revisiting that topic to explore how you should go about getting those ingredients.

Instead of using an outline to drive the creation of your proposal, or fixating on how it should look, try building your proposal around the 5 ingredients in the table below.

One thing that became clear to us as we wrote it is that some of the ingredients of proposal persuasion must be made, found, or discovered. In other words, you can’t just sit down and make them up on the spot. These items require multiple steps, or in other words, a process to reliably deliver what is needed at each step to carry it forward.

So which items can be created on the spot? We created this table to find out:

Ingredient of Persuasion What You Need Before You Can Write
Information Action
Anticipation Anticipating how the evaluation team will make its decision is all about research. Make contact, preferably with the evaluators.
Strategy In order to know how to pick the right win strategies, you need intelligence about the customer, opportunity, competitive environment, and your own strengths and weaknesses. Incorporate elements of your company's high level strategic marketing plan to achieve an integrated message.
Positioning You need to know about the competitive environment if you are to position yourself against the competition. You need contact with the customer if they are going to become familiar with your positioning.
Motivation While you can make up your offers on the spot, it’s best if you know which offers will work best with this particular customer. You may need to do some homework regarding the design of your offering, and the corresponding business and pricing models.
Copywriting and Presentation When you write your proposal narrative, you’re going to have questions about the customer. It’s nice to have the answers before it’s too late to get them. Anticipate the questions you will have by planning your content before you write it.

It looks to me like every ingredient of proposal persuasion requires something else before you can sit down and write it into the proposal. What you need is a process to deliver them.. A good process will not only tell you what to do, but how to do it. It delivers what you need to know so that when you do sit down to write, you have what you need to write a winning proposal. If the goal of your process is to deliver the information you need to write, then your process should also tell you what information to gather and possibly even how to gather it.

If you sit down to write without a process and without having done your homework, it’s like throwing darts with a blindfold on — you might just hit something. But you'll have a much better chance if you prepare a little before you throw (by removing the blindfold!). When you create strategies, position your offering, make offers, and write a proposal without a process, you write about what you think might have a chance to win, instead of knowing what will win.  Which would you rather do?


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Our Off-the-Shelf Process Documentation
guides you through every step of winning a proposal:

  • Collecting customer, opportunity, and competitive intelligence
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  • Turning your win strategies into a proposal
  • Making sure your proposal is right
  • Comes with online training!

Price: $495.00


By Carl Dickson, Founder of

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