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The 6 W's of Writing Persuasive Proposals
By Kris Mills

1. Who Are You Selling To?

Knowing who your customer is and what motivates them to buy is very important for a number of reasons.

It's important because it enables you to get a feel for what their needs are and how you can fulfill those needs.

It's also important to understand if your business sells the one product to different target markets with different sets of needs.

AND ... if you sell a range of products with one target market for each type of product.

OR ... if you have a broad range of products and services with a variety of target markets buying a variety of their products.

By articulating which target markets you sell which products and services to, then listing the needs and buying motivators of each of those groups, you can then match various benefits of your products to best suit the unique needs of your various buyers.

For instance, let's say you're a business forms printer and you provide an in-house design and film preparation service, short turnaround times, precision quality and a great price.

Some types of clients are more likely to be interested in the precision quality than the short turnaround times or the price. Others will be totally price driven.

Knowing which is which will help you tailor your sales presentation to suit their specific buying motivators.

2. WHY - Why Do They Need Your Product and Your Company?

This is a follow on from the previous "who" question.

Does your buyer need to:
bullet save money
bullet make money
bullet increase efficiency
bullet save time
bullet comply with government regulations
bullet avoid losing money
bullet enjoy more relaxation
bullet etc. etc.

Why do they have these needs? Is it because their business is growing quickly? Is it because times are tough?

Write these factors down and include them at the beginning of your document.

Now for point #3.

3. WHAT ... What is your product or service and what are its' benefits to the buyer?

Once you have identified who you are selling to and what their needs are. Introduce your product. Talk about it's features, it's advantages, and most importantly, what it will do for the buyer in real terms.

How does it compare with competing products

If selling services, what process do you go through to ensure the client receives results

Once you've done that, then turn this information into sentences within block of text that talk about the product, and list the various benefits in order of importance.

To organize this information in a logical format (for in-house use only) create a table with the following headings:

  1. Product
  2. Feature
  3. Advantage
  4. Benefit
  5. Investment (price)
  6. What do they receive for their money

4. HOW ... How can you prove that you're the right company with the right product for their needs?

Next, write down the reasons why they should buy from you and NOT your competition.

What's your "Point of Difference"?

How do you compare with your competitors in terms of:
bullet Service
bullet Quality
bullet Turn-around times
bullet Flexibility
bullet Capacity
bullet Range
bullet etc.

Note the word "proof" in the above heading. This is very important in dissolving buyer skepticism.

Your proof can include:

  1. Testimonials - the more, the better
  2. Case studies - show problem, background and solution
  3. Test results - include sources
  4. Guarantee
  5. Company and team profiles outlining your experience and qualifications.

5. WHAT - What is the next step?

Tell your buyer how to buy and make it easy for them to do that. Show them how to make their product selection, tell them what the process involves, what your payment terms are and how to pay.

The easier you make it for them to purchase, the greater the chances that they will purchase from you.

6. WHEN - When do they need to make a decision?

Knowing the answer to this question helps you develop a good understanding of how qualified they are as a buyer.

If they're not ready to purchase for another year or so, there's no point putting together a fully blown proposal now because pricing and product features may have changed by then.

On the other hand, if they need the product immediately and you can deliver the product to their door in a matter of hours when your competitors have a 3 week delay, there's a good chance that you'll win the sale.

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I Almost Flunked English But Went On To Make Millions of Dollars Writing Sales Copy
The most important lesson you must remember is this: If you learn nothing else but the proper use of psychological principles in writing sales copy, you will always make more money than you'll ever need.

Kris Mills of Words that Sell ( ) is a top selling copywriter, trainer and author of numerous how-to guides including Proposals and Tenders (Bids) that Sell. Kris has also produced a FREE ebook entitled "11 Bid Writing Sins and How to Avoid Them". To arrange a FREE copy, visit:

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