How long should a commercial proposal be and what should I show in it?

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It doesn’t really matter how long your proposal is, though the shorter the better. Make sure you’ve got the following content, and make sure its not too wordy!

  • Make sure you demonstrate your claims
    • Anyone can claim to offer ‘excellent customer service’. Prove it – put up an image of your (glowing) web reviews.
  • Don’t make it too wordy. Otherwise it won’t be read
    • Use images instead of words – E.g. use logos of Master Electricians, Clean Energy Council
    • Break it up with headings
    • Keep it short and sharp
  • What makes you different
    • Are you local / national
    • Cheap
    • Quality
    • Here to stay
    • Specialist / Experienced
  • Make sure you have the following content
    • Testimonials – happy faces and statements that a) your company delivered the goods, and b) they are now getting massive bill savings..
    • Case studies. These are different to testimonials. It gives you the opportunity to tell a story about how you solved problems and made the whole process easy. The aim is for the customer to relate to the businesses in the case studies. Include pictures of solar panels on roofs, but for the customer to relate you need to put in content too.
    • Logos (images speak louder than words). We suggest a page of logos of businesses you’ve installed for, grouped by the industry type. If you’re targeting a specific industry, this will help your customer to feel “my competitor has solar, I’m missing out”
  • Product is important
    • But keep it to a minimum
    • What makes it different? What is your panel/inverters key selling points (for the customer).
    • Demonstrate your claims – anyone can say ‘quality’.
  • Look professional
  • Deliver ‘aha’ moments.
    • You’re pitching an ROI, solar is just the way its delivered. Focus on the financials
    • Clearly communicate the key financial selling points in easy-to-understand charts
      • Payback
      • Return on Investment
      • Internal Rate of Return
      • Cheaper Electricity from PV
      • Benefits that grow over time
      • Summary of Benefits
    • Seriously, the company that delivers that “aha, I finally get it” moment is the one most likely to win the job (and most proposals don’t do it well enough).

The one exception where its appropriate to have a page full of words is when you’re demonstrating that you’re tailoring a solution to the customer. Even then, break up the words with headings that summarise the benefits to the customer of your approach.

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