Read any book on sales or proposal writing. Go on a sales training course. One of the first topics that will be covered is features, advantages and benefits. Ultimately, any proposal whether verbal or written down has to persuade someone to take an action and this is done by demonstrating the benefits of taking that course of action.

In a smaller sale, especially with products it is often easy to list benefits, but with larger proposals you will have to search harder to understand the client’s business problem and explain the benefits of your solution – that is, how effectively and efficiently your solution solves their business problem.

Your solution should demonstrate not only value in price, but in the services that you offer. Value is the balance of cost versus benefit, therefore you need to be explicit in highlighting the benefits to the client.

Often when a contract has been lost, the client will tell you that you were too expensive – but no-one ever gets told that they won because they were the cheapest. It is the best solution that usually wins, the one that offers the best benefits. This may be the most expensive solution, but it still may offer the best value.

So how do you create customer value? Firstly you need to take time to understand the customer’s needs. When you receive an Invitation to Tender, get back to the client immediately with questions. Call them. Ask for a meeting. You may have been involved with the client pre-tender and have an understanding of their business.

You must be able to demonstrate an understanding of their business need in order to demonstrate that your solution will deliver the required benefits.

When writing your proposal, use content tailored towards the client and their business problem. We all copy re-usable text, or boilerplate in proposals – but customise it to the client. Include their name, especially in the executive summary. Let them know that the proposal is about them, not about you.

Directly address your customer’s issues and offer persuasive ideas with distinct solution benefits and support your arguments with evidence. When have you delivered a similar service or solution in the past? How did that client benefit? Demonstrate your ability to deliver on your promise.

Make sure a value proposition is clearly laid out and easy to understand. Can you include a return on investment model for the client? If so do it you are showing the client you understand how to save their business money.

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