I was reminded this week about a great book - 'The Jelly Effect' by Andy
Bounds (available at all good online book retailers, plus some "soon
to close but so much nicer" high-street outlets). I would love to say
that I was reminded about it because I had successfully used one of the
many tips included in the book, but no, it was for a far more negative
Now I'm no book reviewer, but what Andy says succinctly is: find out
what your client wants, show them you can do it, then shut up. I
paraphrase obviously, but I think he would applaud the brevity. Andy
reinforces the point that just because you've worked out a particular
feature of your service or product, and even if you've made it all the
way to working out what the potential benefit of that feature is, if
it's not relevant to the prospective client then you shouldn't say it.
You shouldn't waste their time or yours.
So, why was I reminded of it? I was looking at a proposal I had done
quite some time ago (isn't that where we all start when writing new
proposals?) and I was struck by how much "waffle" I had included. The
points were all valid, there were genuine benefits in there, but the
client had initially asked me a simple question and I had taken it as an
opportunity to provide them with lots of irrelevant information. Now,
this particular client knew me well. She knew I could do the job, that I
would do so quickly, effectively and with integrity, but I let my fear
of not getting the job dictate that I should include lots of supposedly
relevant "additional material".
In this instance the client decided to go with me, and indeed I did
the job and improved her business, but thank goodness she either decided
not to read most of my proposal, or if she did read it then she didn't
hold the time I had wasted against me.
So, lesson for the day for me was - when writing a proposal, if it's
not explaining a benefit that's relevant to the client, then don't say
I'll shut up now.