In Nancy Duarte’s book Resonate, she says there are people who produce reports, which are ponderous, comprehensive and certainly difficult to read. At the other end of the spectrum there’s cinema, which people will pay to see and be entertained.
In her opinion, a proposal should fall in the middle of this spectrum, and I couldn’t agree more. It should borrow aspects of education from a report but also rely heavily on the entertainment value of cinema. A proposal needs to motivate, not educate, especially if it’s aimed at an overworked professional.
This is pretty straightforward advice. The last thing your prospect needs is a hundred-page report. What they need is someone who approaches as a true professional, builds rapport, and provides a solution that a worker bee can take to management with a capital budgeting request. The more the internal champion and the actual decision-maker(s) can extract their “why” from what they’re reading, the more smoothly the sales process will go.
Here are some questions you should ask yourself before you tailor your one-page proposal to your prospect:
- Why would anybody want to do what I'm suggesting?
- Could I make the “why” more compelling by including non-utility-cost financial and non-financial benefits in addition to the most obvious utility savings?
- How can I connect the dots between this project and how they measure their own success and prove this is in their best interest?
Translating those things into something story-based and cinematic is a surefire way to motivate a potential customer to jump on board. You won’t have to parrot a sales script or read something aloud; you can speak directly and concisely to your prospect’s needs and make it clear you’re offering something they need and want.