Long Proposals Make Great Landfill

That’s right – Long Proposals Make Great Landfill…if you attended Friday’s teleseminar you’ll be receiving an audio copy of it shortly, but a few points for everyone are in order…

The Wall Street Journal reported just a few days ago, we are in the “texting” generation, and those writing proposals might take note here; people want it short and to the point.  The days of writing lengthy documents to close a deal are long gone, and long documents are destined to be delegated downward to the lowest common denominator.  But don’t expect that group to read it either.  Some tips on keeping it short:


  1. Cut out all company overview commentary.  By the time they buy from you they will know who you are.  Plus, it’s all online.
  2. Don’t bother writing about your client either.  Why an executive would need to read about their own company in your proposal is beyond me.  If they don’t know what they do, you’re selling at the wrong level.
  3. The more technical specifications you include, the more likely the reader will require IT personnel for interpretation.  Instead, focus on bullets that outline the proposed benefits and leave it at that.
  4. Your longest section should be your options.  Make them easy to understand and building upon one another.  Stop at three of four options, all stated at a high level.
  5. Price based on milestone and avoid lengthy explanations on how your prices are computed.  When asked, be ready with a concise answer.
  6. And to really make this simple, avoid proposing until there is a verbal agreement.  At that point your document becomes an agreement.
  7. Make the signing page big and easy to read, but cut down on terms and conditions which may be pages too long.  If you don’t plan on suing your client, you don’t need every detail covered.  Limit your liability and cover your ability to fix things if not acceptable to the client.

© 2010, David Stelzl


4 thoughts on “Long Proposals Make Great Landfill

  1. David — re: “#5. Price based on milestone and avoid lengthy explanations on how your prices are computed. When asked, be ready with a concise answer.”

    My company provides hosted voice services — cloud-based telephone services. I’m unsure how we would price based on milestones outside of what we are doing now –> charge a monthly recurring charge and one-time fees for the phones. What are a few examples of basing pricing on milestones?

    Thank you,

    1. David – in a managed environment you are always selling against measured and perceived risk with supporting operational efficiency. The milestone comments may not apply to you as much here. Your sale starts with an analysis/justification to move to the cloud. Greater availability and integrity of service without as great of a threat of downtime or data loss. The analysis/design/conversion/ (and perhaps equipment fee) may be one or more phases or line items, and perhaps analysis is complementary to measure risk. The monthly fee is then justified as a way of maintaining required level of service and managing at an acceptable level of risk, as a recurring operational expense. If the required equipment is purchased it should be summarized as much as possible to avoid shopping.

  2. Hi David,

    Sorry I couldn’t attend the teleseminar. could you share the audio file with me too.


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