The 5 W’s of Writing Persuasive Proposals

    November 21, 2002

As with a verbal sales presentation, your written sales presentation should have a beginning, a middle and an end.

The beginning addresses the prospect’s situation, thanks them for the opportunity and identifies with their specific needs.

The middle includes all the selling information about your product/service and company and …

The end includes the “move forward” strategy including an action plan and “the next step”.

It should also address the 6 questions of selling:

“Who, What, When, Why, Where and How”

.. or more specifically:

What products and services do you sell?

Who is your target market?

Why do they need your product and your company?

How can you prove that your product or service fulfil their needs?

When do they need to make a decision?

Where can they get it? What’s the next step?

When creating your “template” document, answer each of these questions in detail.

The Products and Services You Sell

List each product. The easiest way to do that is to (in the first instance) create a table like the one below and list the following elements against each product or service. List as many as you can think of.

Also list things like:

* 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.

This information can either be used in whole or you can create programmable functions that enable you to select the benefits that are most important to a particular client. (If you’re working with MS Word, we can help you do that in an effective manner.)

Create a table with the following headings:

* Product

* Feature

* Advantage

* Benefit

* Investment (price)

* What do they receive for their money

Who is Your Target Market?

Some businesses sell the one product to different target markets with different sets of needs. Others sell a range of products with one target market for each type of product. Then others still 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 various products and services to, 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 price and vice versa.

Why Do They Need Your Product and Your Company?

What are their buying needs?

Do they need to:

* save money

* make money

* increase efficiency

* save time

* comply with government regulations

* avoid losing money

* enjoy more relaxation

* 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 against each target market and then show how you product fulfils these specific needs.

Again, this information can be re-used by simply selecting via some “multiple choice” macros that you can program into your word processing program.

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:

* Service
* Quality
* Turn-around times
* Flexibility
* Capacity
* Range
* etc.

Note the word “proof” in the above heading. This is very important in dissolving buyer scepticism. How can you “prove” the above reasons why.

Your proof can include:

* Testimonials – the more, the better

* Case studies – show problem, background and solution

* Test results – include sources

* Guarantee

* Company and team profiles outlining your experience and qualifications

Most of this information can be re-used in its entirety.

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: