How to Use Graphics in your Professional Business Proposals

Utilizing graphics in your business proposals is vital. Why?

Our brains react differently to visual input than to language or textual input. What we see has a vast effect on the decisions we make, the way we feel, and even who we are. In fact, we probably overlook the profound effect that visual stimuli have on our everyday lives. From beverage choices at the coffee shop, to charts and graphs at the office; we receive visual information hundreds, maybe thousands of times each day. Studies have shown that over 90% of all communication is non-verbal. For example, a sign using graphics can portray the same information to us in a fraction of the time it might take to read a sign explaining the same information. This is exactly why it’s so important to use graphics in your professional business proposals.

When?
Have you ever completed a professional business proposal only to realize its way too lengthy? Ask yourself this: Could you replace a wordy explanation with a simple graphic or exchange a long paragraph with a simple info-graphic? Perhaps its pertinent that you deliver important information to your viewer in a quick and simple way. Here’s an example: Which of these would you quicker respond to if posted on your neighbors fence?

This very simply demonstrates how quickly we are able to receive important information via graphic and how valuable it can really be in certain situations.

How?
Now we know why graphics are important and when they may be helpful but how do we go about putting them to good use? Here are some real examples of how to write a business proposal that includes valuable ways to use graphics and visuals
1. Photos – A single simple photo can tell a lot about who you are without saying a word. Use high quality photos to demonstrate your style, persona, quality of work or even…yourself.
2. Portfolio/Examples – Perhaps you are a photographer, artist or designer; properly placing examples of your work shows your viewer exactly why they should hire you.
3. Illustrations – Let’s say you are a furniture maker, engineer or builder and you want to show your audience what something will look like once it’s built. You may find it quite difficult to explain in professional language, but a simple illustration makes it simple and easy for almost anyone to understand.
4. Tables, Charts & Graphs – Show pricing, list options, features, & tools, graph your competition, display metrics, or showcase unique features. Tables, charts & graphs allow you to provide pages of information in one single graphic.
5. Text – A graphic can even be a piece of text, delivered in a graphic manner. A stop sign, for example, delivers direction in a recognizable way. Take your viewer on a tour of your proposal by using graphic direction, headers, borders and boxes.

Remember, use graphics as a way to simplify and optimize your proposal. Always use high quality images and make sure they are simple and easy to understand.

Proposal App Feature Upgrade – Won/Lost/Pending Buttons

Proposal App Feature Upgrade – Won/Lost/Pending Buttons

. Win, Lost and Pending buttons have been added to the dashboard so you can score your opportunities with the click of a mouse.

Why is scoring your wins something you’re gonna love? Because unlike your kid’s soccer game; in sales, someone DOES win, someone DOES lose and we are encouraged to gloat. Scoring makes keeping score that much easier.

Hats off to the guys with the pointy-heads, our developers did a nice job with these. The buttons are big and round and pleasurable to click, but more importantly they light up when you do. And what’s more exciting is that they do math for you. Once you set an opportunity as Won or Lost, ProposalApp does the math at the top of the dashboard and let’s you keep add up your glory. It’s complete proposal management at your fingertips.

ProposalApp: Just one feature away from a Nobel Prize.

How to Rock that Elevator Pitch #2 of 3

In our last article about the art of pitching we learned that most of us suck at it and it’s because we give an honest answer to this question: “So what do you do for a living?” Truth is amigo; no one cares what you do for a living. What they care about is how it could help them or if your answer could entertain them.

Zig Ziglar said it best when he wrote, “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help enough people get what they want.”

Well, here’s the importance of how you articulate what you do: You need to couch it in language where they will immediately understand the value for them. Most people don’t do that. Most people do one of two things:

A. They make the listener wait too long before they connect the dots. Like the oral version of a mystery novel, they wait until the end to explain the relevance. Five minutes later….“And so that’s why our product is superior. It keeps nuclear bombs from exploding when there is an earthquake.” Well, I wished you’d started with that!

B. They explain it in their own language and expect the listener to put the pieces together and figure it out. “Well, clearly people understand that by my having a CLSM and AFLD designations that I am more qualified than most people in this industry.” Oh really?

Why do we expect our listener to be active and engaged and willing to help? It’s not your Mom you’re pitching to you know? You are pitching someone with little time, little attention and little more than self-interest driving them. They are not interested in helping you. It’s the other way around!

OK then professor what are they interested in, you ask. Well, they are interested in themselves and the transformations that we can create for them. They are interested in vehicles that can get them from here – what I call STATE A, to there, STATE B. Wherever STATE B is, they think it’s better than here and if you can be the solution for them, you’ll hold their attention.

What you need to do is start with clarity BEFORE you pitch. You need to be clear about what you really do for a living.

Some examples:

You don’t clean windows; you give people a better view.
You don’t sell shoes; you help people walk with style.
You don’t sell insurance; you help people live their values.
You don’t do consulting; you deliver clarity about problems.
You aren’t a graphic designer;you make ideas into tangible, attractive things.

Know the transformations you really create with what you do and suddenly you are pitching at a higher level.

Where to start? As yourself, “if I had three clients I’d like to clone, who would they be?” Next, define their STATE A. What was facing them when they hired you? What problems or obstacles stood in their way? What opportunities were they dying to capture but couldn’t? Be specific and dig deep.

Then do the same thing for STATE B. See clearly how they were better off. What was life like for them on the other side? They hired you to organize their staff training manual, so what capabilities do they have now? What opportunities can they capture now because that is behind them? You made someone a logo, what is true about their sense of brand now? What can they do now that they couldn’t before? You sold someone a life insurance policy, how do they feel now? What is true for them now?

It’s HERE where we’ll find the clues to build a solid elevator pitch. KNOW THE TRANSFORMATION and you will know the core of where you create impact for others.

5 Ideas for a More Powerful Consulting Proposal

If you’ve gotten the impression that you’re proposals aren’t cutting through the clutter, there are plenty of variables to consider. Is it your price? Is it your timing? Does your prospect understand what you are offering? Too much jargon? Here are 5 ideas for a more powerful consulting proposal.

Reduce your concern by addressing these five ideas for creating a more direct, more powerful proposal:

1. Graphics sell ideas better than words. Use them!
Sometimes a picture really is worth a thousand words. Include professionally designed graphics that explain your concepts, ideas and process. If you can sell it on a napkin, it’ll stick and if they can explain it on a napkin you can close the deal. Make graphics that are light on text and work them into your proposal.

2. Leverage video to create a unique experience.
Nothing will enhance your professional proposal better than a solid sales generation software like www.ProposalApp.com. This unique proposal writing software allows you to add video, links and your attachments to a customized webpage and create a WOW experience each and every time.

3. Frame it, and then solve it.
The consulting starts the moment you propose. Start creating value with a solid re-framing of the problem as they see it. What are the stakes for them, what (in their words) are the risks they face and the opportunities they are excited to capture? Frame the issue before you propose how you’ll solve it.

4. Make it easy to do business with you.
How do you prepare a simple business proposal? Nothing ruins a solid proposal as quickly as a painfully detailed outline of services. Make sure you make it easy for people to say yes by asking yourself very simply…would I get excited by this? Could I simplify it? Could a nine year-old explain it? If no, get out the red pen.

5. Include specific action
Absurdly, many proposals don’t have clear and direct actions in them. If it’s not your nature to direct others confidently your proposal is just information. You simply have to be the leader here and tell them what to do next to move things along.

With so many distractions for prospects and clients, it’s easy to get lost in the clutter. Remember, each time you send a proposal it’s an audition for doing the work you love. Show your stuff and bring your best by creating a client-centric experience.

The ValuePitch – How to Rock that Elevator Pitch #1 of 3

The ValuePitch – How to Rock that Elevator Pitch #1 of 3

When it comes to pitching your wares nothing hurts more than to hear, “No thanks, I’ve already got a guy”. Ever heard that one? Sure you have. “We’ve got a guy”. “We loved your presentation, but we’re already working with someone”. It doesn’t matter what industry, those are four of the crumbiest little words you can ever hear when you’re selling. “We’ve got a guy”. Or “a Gal.” Doesn’t matter. Deadly.
And what makes this particular objection so infuriating is its very nature. At the essence of that remark is the suggestion that you are identical to their guy. It’s the idea that since you have a career title that’s exactly like their guy, you two must be identical twins in terms of your capability, your experience, or the results you’ll achieve.

The perception, gang, is that you are like a toaster; hey, I’ve already got one of those and I don’t need two of them. Tucked inside that little remark is the insinuation that there is absolutely no difference between you and what you offer and someone or something they think they already have and “since you’re all alike”…there really is no compelling reason for them change.

So what do you need to do about it?
In this three part series, I’ll show you a structure to pitch your value that’s concise. I’ll show you how to write a proposal that is fun and totally unique to you. To give you a preview, the secret here is that most of us tend to bury the lead when we talk about ourselves and what we do for a living. Most of us share information that’s pretty useless to the listener. We talk about what we do and what we have and oddly expect our listener to understand what that has to do with them. It’s not that we’re lazy, just a little dumb sometimes.
And the listener, what are they interested in? Well, just like you, they’re interested in themselves. So what do we do about that? Well, instead of talking about us we talk about people like THEM that we serve. Talking about THEM is the only thing that will hold their attention. And so that’s our model.
The top 1% producers know something that a lot of folks miss and it’s really simple. Through well-intentioned but really inaccurate information, a lot of folks have been taught to share about themselves, to serve the listener by sharing so much about what they think or what they have or what they do. And no one really cares. They’re not really that interested.

What they really want you to do is cut to the chase and tell them what they get. You cannot bury the lead when you communicate, and “what they get” IS the lead. The lead is the transformation that you create for them. That’s what we’re interested in. We’re all just self-interested human beings and what we want to know is how we can be transformed by what you’re offering.

Proposal App Feature Upgrade – Dashboard

Proposal App Feature Upgrade – Dashboard

The need to know what’s happening with your sales can become an obsession. I know it has with me. I have to see where we are, when they’ve looked and what they think immediately after sending a professional proposal.

Now with ProposalApp I can do it! With all of my proposals in one place, I have more certainty than “peeking in their office windows”. I’m talking about a complete proposal system that handles all aspects of proposal management. FINALLY! One Dashboard to rule them all!

With this exciting new feature from the people that brought you the Video Widget, the Duplicate Feature and the Proposal Microsite – this new feature is a doozy. It actually includes several features within itself.

Here are a few of its’ groovier attributes:

It’s a calculator: The dashboard adds up all of your professional proposals and tells you simply how many you have, how much they’re worth and what your close ratio is.

It’s a secret window into the client’s office: Want to know if they are looking at your proposal, how many times, how recently? The dashboard will show you.

It’s a proposal management tool: Because you can sort and filter through the proposals you need, the dashboard allows you to monitor the production of your entire sales force.

It’s a scorekeeper: Won, lost, pending; you make the call and ProposalApp will keep tabs. However, if you are looking to focus your attentions on what’s working, knowing which proposals close and which ones don’t is a big advantage.

Using an Explainer Video in Your Professional Proposals

The power of video can no longer be ignored, and using an explainer video in your professional proposals can give you that something extra. Video is fun and sexy, and allows you to tell more, sell better and move emotions. While good writing has its place, it certainly doesn’t come stock with a musical score!

When it comes to selling your ideas, nothing beats a solid Explainer video and the impact of a solid script, beautiful graphics, a heart thumping score and compelling voice talent. An Explainer is a video with a script and pictures that explain what your product does. It poses a question or states an argument and then explains how your product addresses it. It’s Easy.

So what’s the anatomy of a solid Explainer? Is there a “secret sauce” out there to improve the way you sell? Maybe.

Here’s the anatomy of GREAT explainer so you can make your mark!

1. First is the “grabber” or “Why” statement: A grabber is a headline or a question that will draw your viewer in about why your product matters. We like a solid question, as is, “Are you still attaching your proposals to email?”

2. The “What” statement: This is your elevator pitch; your job here is to nail the value proposition to the floor. In one sentence you must make it clear WHAT it is that your product does.

We use this: “ProposalApp, proposal management software, allows you to create a web-based, video-enhanced professional proposal using video, links and your value proposition all in a microsite that you share with a prospect and can track with our dashboard.” It’s fully integrated proposal management.

3. The “How” statements: Our transition here is to communicate how it works. We’ll usually say something like, “So, how does it work?” and then we tell about 3-5 individual features.

4. Now it’s time for the “Now” statement. This is the call to action you’ve heard so much about. Without one, your explainer script isn’t going to direct people well. Remember, you’re the leader. “So how do you get started? Go to www.proposalapp.com and sign up for our free trial” or something like that.

The main thing to remember about your explainer video is that you clearly break up the segments of your script. Take your viewer through the thinking and then ask them politely to take action.

Good Luck!

ProposalApp, Proposal Management Software, is Going to Rock Your Close

ProposalApp, proposal management software, came to a crossroads recently friends….it happened about four months ago. We knew we had a good product, but we also knew we were far from excellence. We knew our proposal writing software had a solid foundation and ability to stand out in the world of proposal management. Our marketing efforts were working to some extent and our blogs, advertisements and affiliate programs were just starting to take off. But, we knew it wouldn’t last.

As you can imagine, it was a hard road to travel and when we finally elected to tell the whole truth, it was depressing. We’d been working our tails off for months and yet we were essentially going back to the drawing board.

It was then that we made an uncommon choice. We decided to be great.

ProposalApp is back. It’s better, it’s smarter and we’re confident it’s going to totally transform the way you sell. We think it’s an outstanding product and we’re now more proud than ever to offer it.

Thanks for coming back, thanks for sticking with us and thanks for being good enough at what you do to force us to bring our A game. You deserve it.

Jon LoDuca for The ProposalApp Team

How A Proposal Management System Creates Efficiencies In The Sales Process

When sending an online proposal, do you always know when it’s been reviewed? Do you know how many times? Do you know how many people are looking at it or how recently? Of course you don’t.

It’s a blind alley. You fire off a proposal and then wait a few days so as not to appear overzealous before calling to follow-up. When you phone to check in, you have no idea if they’ve even looked at it yet. You’re really going in clueless.

I can change that.

If you haven’t already heard of Proposal Management Software, I’m about to make your day. Proposal Management Software like ProposalApp (www.proposalapp.com), helps marketing and sales professionals create a more impressive proposal using video, graphics and clear and simple interface…and equally valuable: proposal management and analytics to stay on top of what you’ve put out there.

Imagine your morning started like this: You come in to the office, log in to ProposalApp’s proposal dashboard and see that you have ten proposals out on the street right now worth over $3M. You can see through the dashboard that your close ratio has been about 60% so far and that a few people on your team have been doing a little better, bringing the company average up to 75%.

So, when you take a look at the most recent proposal you’ve delivered for Jamison Electric, you can see that it was reviewed yesterday and nine separate people have taken a look see. You’ll know it’s time to call them up and close.

Proposal Management Software is the next best thing to sitting on the prospect’s desk and asking, “Did you look yet? How about now? How about now?” Take advantage of technology and join the competition in the movement to leverage and systematize your sales process. Your prospects are waiting.

How to Write a Business Proposal: Top 5 Deal Killers

The way that I see it, there is a special ring of hell set aside for sales people. It’s not for the reasons you might expect though. I don’t hate sales people; in fact I rather like them. Sales pros are the world’s foremost communicators. They are the fluent, tenacious and creative drivers of change, growth and commerce. They make the invisible tangible and live in a “results-only” world. I’m a fan.

Nevertheless, there is a ring of hell set aside for them, and it’s not for being “salesy”, it’s for so often being stupid.

Do you want to know how to write a business proposal? There are five Deal Killers hidden inside many professional proposals that every sales and marketing professional, sales leader/trainer, small business owner and freelancer ought to know about and confidently avoid. If they don’t it’s just plain ignorant. Here’s the list, pitchforks are optional:

1. Not being a problem solver. You can’t be a problem solver if you don’t listen and you can’t be a listener with your mouth open. Shut up for a minute, take a breath and just be present. Selling isn’t telling and your proposal should reflect it.

2. Giving in too easily. Most people give in too fast and too easily. If you aren’t passionate about helping me then why would be passionate to buy? Imagine I’m drowning and you have the rope; you throw it couple of times and I miss it, so you leave me to sink. Would you really give in so fast? Make tenacity a reflection of your desire to serve. And if you don’t have a product you can rally behind, find one.

3. Not differentiating. It’s not up to me to figure out what you have or why you are unique, better or different. Help me see it, taste it, touch it. Help me understand the problem you solve and stop talking features. Use video, charge more, send a card, send a pony…do something different.

4. Not being a professional. Here’s what’s required to sit at the big kid’s table: Show up on time, do what you say, finish what you start and say please and thank you. If you can’t meet me there it’s not going to happen. How does this translate? Send your professional proposal with my name in it, with details that reflect you know something about me, and make sure you send it quick lest I forget I’ve got a need with your name on it.

5. Not being ready to win. A great entrepreneur client of mine reminded me of something that is so obvious it’s easy to forget: NFL players drill for hours so that in the game, under the lights and with all the noise, they don’t freeze when something great happens like making an interception or having a great running lane to charge through. Many a foolish sales person is quick to pitch