How to Write a B2B Proposal that Works
Business and online-business
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A proposal should include the following.

• A “sales” header;

• A greeting + addressing the person by name

• A couple sentences to prove that you really know whom you are addressing (a specific manager);

• A fact from the client’s actual business practice;

• Problems related to this fact;

• Possible solutions of these problems;

• Your offer in one sentence;

• Various problems in the client’s actual practice that your services can be used to solve;

• Description of the service according to the following model:

First stage – results;

Second stage – results;

Third stage – results, etc.

• Overall results guaranteed when using your services;

• Why your company?

• Various options for working together;

• Price;

• Motivational phrase, call to action;

• The standard “I will be happy to answer any questions you might have.”

• Contact information;

• It is best to insert pictures or photos appropriate to the proposal.

Unlike a sales letter, a proposal is a personal letter to a particular person. The proposal must take into account the specifics of a particular company where your recipient works. Either you write spam for the entire market niche and this spam is called a “sales letter” using the sales letter model, or you write a proposal to a specific person. It is like the difference between ready-made clothing at a store and a suit tailor-made just for you.

Find out who in the company makes the decision you need. Then do your homework – find out specific facts about this particular person. When we write a personal letter to a specific person, we can always find out certain information about their personal life or the company, what their hobbies and interests are, or what real concerns and problems they have.

It is assumed that either you know the person to whom you are writing the proposal or have found out who it is. You have to write them a personal letter, even if you do not know them personally. You address them by name and let them know in the first couple of sentences that this is not spam, but a personal letter to them. To Mr. John Smith, for example, who is 45 years old and who has a wife and three kids, loves skiing and collects stamps.

For instance, “we’ve met at such and such trade show.” Or “I know that you are interested in such and such,” or “I read your interview, you are great and wonderful.” Or “you are the head of such a company and that is why…” Your objective is for the person to understand in the first couple of sentences that someone knows and thinks about them, to feel that there is something in common, some sort of understanding so that they are caught and know for a fact that your letter is addressed to them and no one else. Think of how to do it depending on the specific person.

Then go on to a fact from the client’s actual business practice. That is, to something where a real situation came up and there are real problems related to it. You could write that often enough something is ineffective in their industry and it leads to certain consequences. It is better to write about trouble in the client’s business in the third person, as if you have guessed their problems. Your description should be of problems in general, so as not to pique the recipient and cause them to put you aside altogether.

Describe their actual business practice if you are selling a business product or service. If you are selling home or personal products you can scare the client with problems with children, for example. Let’s say you are selling security systems: “Imagine that a thief came by your house, but only the kids were at home. People often do not pay attention to this and that, but there are such and such problems and break-ins and things can get pretty bad. However, if you do this…” Think of what you can use to scare this particular client – otherwise, do not call your text a proposal, but call it a sales letter for a certain market niche.

What are the opportunities that the client will have by solving these problems?

Put your proposal into one sentence. Bring up various problems from the client’s actual business practice whose solution requires your products or services.

Then, describe the services or products you offer using the following model:

• First stage – results;

• Second stage – results;

• Third stage – results.

It is important that the person understands what results at what stages of the process you offer. What are the overall results guaranteed if your services are used? Why your company and not someone else’s? What are your competitive advantages? What types of work process do you offer?

Buy one unit, buy one box, buy one wagonload – it is more effective to offer a multiple choice, as well as the prices of different choices. Make sure to include the motivation phrase and a call to action: call, visit the website, learn more by calling XXX-ХХХ-ХХХХ, order, sign an agreement, give us money. Then a standard closing – “I will be happy to answer any questions you might have by phone or e-mail” and your contact information.

Understandably, in a real proposal some of the points will not be used, but this has to be the model for an ideally working proposal. While you are writing a proposal, cross out all “pretty words” that have no meaning, i.e. all “exclusive, professional, with a wide selection, long-term business experience.” Change the word “we” to “you!”

When you write a proposal, check that each phrase promotes a sale. If it does not cross it out. Let’s start with reality. Imagine that there is a head of a medium-sized business. He has three phones on his desk and all three keep ringing. His secretary and other employees keep running back and forth. He has a pile of papers on his desk, a bunch of websites and social networks open, Skype is on, text-messages keep coming in and he is reading your proposal. Any information that does not interest him, any general phrase about nothing, not about him, not with questions – poof! He gets distracted and will never get back to your proposal.

Ideally, the entire text should be composed of headers that you made up. Each phrase matters. Either it will catch the client’s eye or your proposal will go into the round file. Write each phrase, each word with a view to a reader with many distracting factors. Any triviality that does not hold the client’s attention leads to losing them.

Your homework is very important – it is to talk specifically about the concerns of your potential customer, about the specific number of employees, about a specific problem, the last specific dial-in meeting. It must be a personal thing, so that each phrase of the proposal keeps your client involved in what will happen next.

“Yes, that’s about me. He understands how everything is really serious and critical, yes he is offering a solution,” these are the thoughts you should call up with your proposal. So the client decides, “It probably makes sense to call them up and learn the details.” After reading a good proposal, the CEO thinks it makes sense to get someone to call you and make an appointment.

In the end, your bonus will be very high. Unlike spam that is sent out in thousands and has the minimal conversion rate, a well-written proposal has a very high conversion rate.

A Press Release That Is Published for Free

A press release should include:

1. A newsmaker: highlight a social or industrial problem that the community or most of the community is concerned about. This is in the interest of the publishers.

2. A commercial problem of your target audience and your solution to this problem. The objective is to interest potential clients.

A press release should be written according to the following model: the header should not be quite so blatantly advertising, but it should be eye-catching. The first part of the press release is for journalists or for the editor, so they have a reason to publish your advertisement for free.

Highlight the newsmaker that is the concern of the community or the newspaper/website target audience. In the first paragraph, describe this problem or concern. Thus, in 2011 Penny Lane Realty won first place for the best press release of the year with 55 publications for its article on “10 Occupations Blacklisted by the Bankers.”

It is good if you can involve a popular personality in this, so that your press release kindles the interest of journalists and editors. It is especially good if there are famous people among your clients whose comments and names you can post on your website.

Here is an example of a possible press release for an auditing company: “Due to changes in legislation miserable times are up ahead for accountants. Poor accountants and small business owners are losing sleep over submission of their financial statements for last year. They worry about incurring these incredible fines. It is very dangerous for medium and small-sized businesses, especially for small businesses that lack legal knowledge.”

The second part of your press release is the commercial problem of your target audience and the target audience itself. Offer your solution to the problem: “That is why we are offering an excellent seminar for accountants. In the course of it we will explain all the problems for a reasonable fee, the clients will avoid fines and their financial statements will become perfect. Because we are professionals and experts, we really understand it and 1,748 companies have already been saved from these insane tax requirements.”

A press release should really only be two-three paragraphs, no more than a page. What do you do with it afterwards? Send it to magazines, newspapers and websites on yours or similar topics.

The publication depends on your relations with the media. You might have specific agreements. If there are no agreements, you can write “You might be interested in this information because there has been such and such change in legislation, please see attachment.” There should always be a reason. That is, do not write a press release about day-to-day operations. Always think of some event, some reason, some change.

Usually, an event is announced in the press release, the media perceives it as advertising and asks you to pay for publication. However, if you write that you have had a seminar, you have a newsmaker, but no one will ask you to pay for advertising – after all, you are not inviting anyone to a past seminar. Nonetheless, some of your potential clients will read it, visit your website, browse through it and become interested in your services.

You cannot advertise yourself in a press release, but you do not need to. Keep the balance between news and advertising. Maintain it first of all, by keeping away from open calls unlike you do in sales letters or your website content. Cross out the calls “visit, read, learn more” and leave only the information and a link to your event.

Bear in mind this point: if the editors do not want to publish your article for free there is something wrong with it. Even if you publish it for money it will not bring results, because it will not interest your clients. If the article is helpful and catchy, it will be published for free or there might even be a commission paid to the author.

A Model for News Websites

Make your industry and your company news for news websites according to the standard pyramid model:

• The header – this is the entire news in one sentence;

• First message – one line expressing the essence of the event;

• Second message – one paragraph with details;

• Third message – three-four or more paragraphs with details.

The point of this model is precisely that a person who looks at the header instantly realizes the point, while a person who reads the first sentence gets a bit more than the point. Those who are interested will keep reading. It should not be the usual – lots and lots of watered down, meaningless words, so no reader gets to the point. Most people, unfortunately, prefer the “bottom up” news presentation style, while it really should be “top to bottom.”

News for Your Website

1. The subject of the news does not have to be of global interest, but it should not be meaningless either. Look for newsmakers. There are more options here than with a press release.

2. Eye-catching header;

3. Introductory paragraph;

4. Specific and clear terms of the promotion (test it on your friends who are not familiar with your line of business; do they understand everything?);

5. Optimized text (use https://adwords.google.com/KeywordPlanner to get key words);

6. Eye-catching pictures. Make sure to include captions when you post them on your website.

7. Conclusion with a call to action and a link to the right page.

If you do not have news very often get rid of that webpage and post your news on the home page or in articles. Try to use as many key words as possible in the text, so the clients can find your news in searches and visit your website. When you include pictures, make sure to write captions for the search engines and to be displayed. At the end, put a call to action with a link to a specific promotion.

Nearly any event in the life of the country can be tied to your business. The objective of posting the news, however, is for the person to enter into an agreement with you. What should the reader do as a result? Simply close your website and that’s all? Think of why he or she should go to a certain webpage and give you money.

Make sure to send out your news to be posted on your partners’ websites and news websites that publish press releases.

Testimonials that Sell

Customer testimonials are very useful for inspiring trust, especially if you are offering business services. Ask them to indicate their first and last name, their company, title, e-mail and phone number. A photo of a happy client works really well, a video testimonial is even better.

You can give the client a standard form to fill out with the following questions:

1. What did you like?

2. What can be added or improved? Let the customers vent their negative feelings here. This point is necessary to make them feel important. That way, for the third question, the clients will not be repeating what they wrote here.

3. Testimonial. You can post questions one and three on your website, taking steps to improve your business according to question two.

1. First name, Last name, Company, Title, Contact Information – phone, e-mail, photo.

2. What did you like?

3. What can we improve?

4. Review the service:

• Before and after;

• Specific problem solved;

• Results achieved.

Sometimes you need a selling testimonial for a product or service when in your partnership programs people suggest that their friends go and buy it, while they get a commission as partners. Write such a testimonial according to the following model:

Selling Testimonial for a Product

• Who needs this product and why?

• A small drawback of the product (you need a tiny bit of something negative).

• What impressed you most in the product? Describe two-three advantages.

• Your first result (or first experience using the product).

• What specifically did you like?

• Grade the product on a scale of 1 to 5.

Selling reviews for information products are written according to this model. If you are doing your product reviews according to this model, you need to inspire a lot more trust than simply “Wow! That’s cool!”

We had incidents when our clients were found in social networks by name and photo by strangers who wrote them personal messages asking “Is this really your testimonial? Is everything in it true?” When they heard that it was, they became our clients.

The most important thing in testimonials is results and specific benefits, because emotions “Wow, cool!” do not, as a rule, impress those who want to buy the service. In other words, “It was really great, I loved it!” is not a testimonial. On the other hand “I saved so much money, earned this or that, learned this and now have this, this and that” will sell much better. Testimonials that only have emotional raptures will be perceived as something you wrote yourself.

Include two-three testimonials in the descriptions of your services, in your sales letters, in your proposals. Make a link “Read other testimonials” to a separate page on your website. The more testimonials you post on your website, the better.

A testimonial is a wonderful thing that actually works like a warranty. For a potential client, people who got results are a confirmation of the good job you do.

When you collect testimonials bear in mind that your employees are quite capable of messing up the most reasonable idea. In restaurants, for example, you are often asked to fill out a questionnaire, but are not given a pen. That is why you need to write out business processes. If you do not write good instructions, your subordinates might ruin it and make your clients unhappy.

Elevator Pitch

Make up a short story about your product’s, project’s, or service’s concept – it should be around 100-150 words or around 30 seconds of reading. Describe…

1. What exactly do you want to present: you yourself, your business, or a specific product?

2. What objectives or problems of your clients do you solve from the point of view of their benefits?

3. Why should they work with you and not with your competitors?

4. A call to action, “Call us!” or “Learn more on our website,” for example.

5.  You can either simply give your contact information or directly ask if the person you are talking to knows anyone who could use your help.

Imagine that you are in an elevator with a person with whom you really, really want to work. The elevator takes 30 seconds. You have 100-150 words to convince that person.

1. Picture your ideal client. Decide what it is that you want to present to this person:

  • Yourself as an expert;
  • Your line of business;
  • Your company;
  • A particular product.

2. Describe which of your clients’ problems and objectives you solve;

3. At the end – put in a call to action:

  • “Call us” (“Here is my business card, give me a call”);
  • “Learn more on our website”;
  • “Do you know anyone whom I might give a hand?”

Why do you need such a template? We often meet people, give them a business card and feel shy about talking of ourselves. But at that point when you hand your business card, you have those 30 second, those 150 words to make them interested in you, so your business card does not go into the nearest trash can and you get a client.

You will be able to do it if you first write and then practice your “elevator pitch” in front of а video camera, for example. Watch the video and then practice again, then watch again, until your pitch gets to the point where each business card you give out leads to a client.

Use the same template as a caption for pictures in your articles in business publications, as well as in your automatic e-signature.

Imagine that you need to sell an upcoming seminar, for example. You are in a community where each person can buy it. You do not quietly pass out your business cards, but take 30 seconds to tell every person why he or she needs your seminar. What the benefits are to the client, what the dates are. It is highly likely that a certain percentage of your listeners will buy the seminar. Unlike your competitors who do not do this, you will not be simply leaving, but you will be leaving with a following of happy clients in your wake.

Before publishing the text, you have to check how it sounds and looks. Often, a text that looks fine on paper sounds simply horrible.

Similarly, write an “elevator pitch” for each of your employees. Practice several dozen, pairing up with them until they become automatic. Explain to your employees that for each person they meet at any event they will be saying this speech as they hand out a business card.

Make Your Written Word Charismatic

1. Use the spoken word (and style) of your clients.

2. Address a specific person.

3. Add photos or pictures.

4. Make the text visually attractive with:

• Short sentences, words and paragraphs;

• Bulleted lists;

• Subheaders;

• Wide margins, borders.

5. Use the active sentence structure.

6. Make your text as simple as possible.

7. Take away difficult words, generalizations and negations.

8. Get rid of abbreviations.

9. Proofread your text.

Use your clients’ speech, the words they use and the style that is familiar to them. Use active sentence structure. Try to use active voice. Do not use two verbs in a row. Your objective is to reconstruct live, spoken speech with imagery in your text.

Use short sentences – popular women’s magazines, for example, use the “if there is a comma put a period” rule. Get rid of complex and compound sentences. If you have a choice of two synonyms – use the one that is shorter. Cross out all general “fair nothings.”

Write paragraphs that are five to seven lines long and leave spaces between them.

Many readers simply scan the text, glancing at the headers. That is why everything you need to say in your text, your key points should be clear after scanning.

It is best to align text to the left than to justify it. Do not use the indent.

Use tables and numbered lists. Use bullets as well as numbers in your lists.

It is easy to check your copy: read the text as if you were a radio announcer. Cross out things that are difficult to pronounce. The text should be interesting to listen to. If it is incredibly boring it will not be allowed on the radio – change it.

Video Copy Writing

You can place any videos, including client video testimonials on your website or on www.youtube.com or www.slideshare.net.

All texts that you write, as well as all testimonials that the clients write can be video recorded. Nowadays, everyone has a camera on their computer or phone, so it is very simple to make a video and post it on the website.

It would also not hurt to make a presentation of your text, post it on www.slideshare.net and its video, voiced by you, on www.youtube.com. Any text that you have turned into a video will be watched by a lot of young people who prefer watching to reading. That is why you should make a sound and video recording of everything you can, everything you have already written – it’s just a matter of minutes.

It works especially well if you can see that a person is not parroting a memorized text, if he (or she) stammers a little or looks for the right word; these things should not be too glossy. Your objective is to catch people emotionally. That is why we take the live speech of live clients. It is OK if your video is not smooth, not glamorous – it works. You will not “hook” clients with a sleek, set-up video.

An advertising video on our website, for example, is a sample of what can be done in half an hour, with no strain or great effort, simply reading the ready-made text off a screen. The text rolls on the screen and we simply read it in the background. People like it – and that is the important part.

Video copy writing is in, and it works.

A Selling Presentation about Your Company as a Book (Marketing Kit)

Your objective is to create a written selling presentation. Create it in soft copy, but it is also a good idea to print it as a brochure on letter size paper in a nice binder or folder.

The presentation should include the following elements and answers:

1. Your logo and an advertising picture. Your company name;

2. Advertising slogan;

3. What your line of business is and what exactly do you do;

4. What problems you solve;

5. What your clients get from working with you;

6. Who your clients are and who cannot be your client;

7. Reasons for your clients’ problems;

8. Scare the client with consequences of not solving the problems;

9. Suggest options for the client to solve these problems;

10. What your company offers as a solution to the customer’s problems

11. Compare your offer to those of your competitors by parameters that are to your advantage;

12. “Why us”;

13. Write emotional stories and legends about your company’s creation and growth as well as about the company owner.

14. Your catalog. Your services or products – starting with the most expensive ones and going down to the cheaper ones;

15. Educational brochures (white papers);

16. Give answers to typical objections;

17. Present testimonials of your happy customers;

18. Answers to client questions (FAQ);

19. Your portfolio. Note your largest and most famous clients, show a list of clients, the number of clients or orders;

20. Provide links to publications about you, to your articles and books;

21. Provide contact information;

22. Create an order form or a questionnaire for those who wish to become your clients.

23. You must have a call to action!

Corporate Publication in PDF for Your Clients

Make an e-newsletter (3-10 pages long) with useful articles for your clients and send out new issues monthly. Offer the newsletter archive for download in return for an e-mail address. Your newsletter should have 80% of useful or entertaining content and 20% of your advertising. Write articles; post cartoons, demotivators and jokes; publish tests. Your newsletter articles must be unique, i.e. the reader should not be able to find them on other websites prior to publication. The articles must also be useful and practical, the techniques described should be easily applicable and the results obvious. Advice, step-by-step instructions, templates, tables to be filled out and check-lists all work great for this.

How to Write Good Articles

1. Think about your clients’ concerns. What questions do they ask you or on forums? Select one idea for your article from all these problems.

2. Formulate the key point of your article in one sentence.

3. An article has three parts: introduction, body and conclusion.

4. Introduction or lead paragraph: what is your article about, why is it important to the reader. Get the client interested.

5. Body: three-five key points of the article with two-three sentences each. Make up sub-headers.

6. Conclusion: summarize, draw conclusions.

7. Think of a catchy name.

8. Read your article out loud. Is the order in which the points are presented logical? Are there transitions between different parts of the article? Iron out the wrinkles and ambiguities, explain or substitute difficult words or professional terms. Make the text as simple as possible. Make the article clear to a 10-year-old.

9. Give the article to a proofreader or set it aside and proofread it yourself in a few days.

Hard Copy Letters for B2B Clients by Regular Mail

1. Select 50-100 of the most attractive potential clients. Find out which employee makes the decision on your issue.

2. Call to verify that the person still works for the company and that you have the correct mailing address.

3. Send a letter to this employee personally in an envelope without a logo. Handwrite the address.

4. You can enclose something 3D in the envelope – you will make your recipient curious and your letter will be read.

5. Compile a series of at least seven letters – one letter will not work.

 

Summary

1. Teach your employees to write copy.

2. Make your written word charismatic.

3. It is better to pay for the writing of a good article and publish it for free than to pay for a publication of copy that is of no interest to the client.

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Date of publication: 23 January 2018
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