Your IndustryNov 26 2015

How to construct persuasive proposals

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Reaching a verbal agreement with clients is among seven ways in which financial advisers can make their written proposals to clients more persuasive, according to Andy Bounds.

Mr Bounds, author and business consult, said, firstly, a convincing written proposal should serve as a confirmation to what has been discussed in a meeting prior to the formal submission.

Secondly, advisers can make the proposals more streamlined by conferring with clients when it comes to the content of the proposal before it is written.

He said: “To bring this up in your meeting, simply say ‘I don’t want to bore you by sending irrelevant information. So let’s agree what the headings of the proposal will be’.”

Step three requires advisers to agree a follow-up prior to sending the proposal.

Mr Bounds said: “If you’ve ever written a proposal, you’ll have experienced the ‘black hole of doom’ that many proposals fall into. You send it. You don’t hear back. You then worry – do you chase at the risk of annoying her or wait and feel powerless?

“The simplest way to resolve this is: agree before sending it when you’ll speak afterwards. Something like ‘so, I’ll confirm what we’ve agreed in a proposal for you. When shall we speak again to discuss it?’”

Step four is to ensure that the title of the proposal and subsequent section headings are eye-catching, while step five involves devising an engaging covering email.

The latter should be short, well written and remind the client of the pre-agreed follow up. In addition, the proposal attachment should be labelled in a similar fashion to the title of the email.

The sixth step is to include an action timeline.

Mr Bounds said: “When people buy, they want certainty. So, help her visualise how things will go. Timelines work really well for this. They clearly show who is doing what, by when… And that, the sooner she agrees to go ahead, is what will happen to her immediately.”

Making the piece easy to read for clients is the final tip. This can be achieved by writing short paragraphs – four lines maximum – sentences, phrases and words, according to Mr Bounds.

He said: “I know you think she’ll print your proposal, turn off her email, put the phone on divert, go into her favourite room with a cup of tea and devour it over many hours. But she won’t. It will be a skim-read, so it must be easy to read quickly.”

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