Anyone who’s ever been asked to write anything gets writer’s block at some point. In sales, few moments are worse than when the excitement of “great, they asked for a proposal” turns into “what the heck should I write?”
Everything that seemed so clear during your discussions suddenly is a big sticky mess in your head, and you’re not sure where to start, let alone how to finish.
Here are some tips for dealing with proposal writer’s block:
- Keep the end goal– a successful project– in mind at all times. The goal is not just to write a proposal, or even to close the deal. It’s to make the project successful. Keeping this perspective will help you frame the proposal properly, especially in areas where you may need to ask more questions.
- Have a great template. This will give you a path. You can always modify it as needed. (See How to Write a Sales Proposal in 6 Easy Steps for what you might want to put in your template.)
- Take pictures. Sometimes the best way to brainstorm and lay out solutions is on a whiteboard. Go wild. But what happens after you leave? If you need to work a whiteboard, keep adjusting it until it really reflects the solution. Then ask if you can snap a picture with your phone. (I’ve never had anyone say no.) Now you’ve got a picture of the solution that you can:
- Add right into your proposal.
- Turn into a diagram and add into your proposal.
- Simply guide your writing.
- Take good notes. Remember to ask what the prospect’s ideal solution should include (and what it can exclude). Take a pass through your notes to organize them into the sections of your template. You’re not going for grammar, or phrasing, let alone perfection, just capturing ideas and moving them to the right place.
- Move through your now-populated template, organizing, paring, and refining. (Here are some more tips on writing.)
Now you should have a workable proposal draft. In many cases, this will take 5-15 minutes. In other cases, it may take hours (even days if you need to coordinate with other people), but you don’t have to sit there staring at a blank screen. Once you have your draft, you can discuss with colleagues and your prospect, if needed, to get the proposal into final form.