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A Framework for Creating Persuasive Proposals

Persuasive Proposals

As a professional proposal writer I’m always looking for a ways to craft persuasive proposals. What would be even better though would be to have a framework for creating persuasive proposals. Something I could use again and again in my proposal writing efforts. And I finally think I’ve found it.

Tom Sant has authored a very good book on writing persuasive proposals with the very straight forward title, Persuasive Business Proposals. In it Tom discusses a framework for persuasive proposals he calls the NOSE pattern. NOSE stands for Needs, Outcomes, Solutions and Evidence.

What Tom correctly points out in his book is that most proposal writers spend too much of the proposal presenting their solution and not enough time covering the other three elements. It makes sense. Most proposers are excited to talk about their solution and all that that it can do for the customer. Unfortunately, it’s the other parts of the NOSE pattern where the business is usually won or lost.

The first two elements of the NOSE pattern, stating the customer’s needs and identifying their desired outcomes, play two very important roles. First, they establish trust, and people don’t buy from people they don’t trust. They establish trust by letting the customer know that you know what they want. That you’ve put their needs and outcomes first (literally). Until a customer trusts you, the details of your solution don’t really matter.

The second role the needs and outcomes play is to establish a context for your solution. Now when you present your solution you can connect it back to their needs and outcomes. It lets the client know why you’re recommending the solution you are. Without the context, your solution is like an island out in the middle of the ocean. With no relationship to anything.

The final aspect of the NOSE pattern, evidence, is the one that really seals the deal. Presenting a solution without any evidence that you can actually do what you propose will leave your client with uncertainty, hesitant to go forward with your offer.

The evidence you present can be anything from case studies to references to awards or recognition. But, according to Tom, there is trick to making it persuasive. If you want your evidence to be effective, it must be quantifiable. Give it a number. And if you can put a number on it, you might as well graph it. Quantifiable evidence in graph form is the most persuasive evidence you can present.

So, there is the framework I intend to incorporate in my proposal writing going forward. A big thank you to Tom Sant. If you want to know more, I highly recommend you pick up his book. In the meantime, give his ideas a try. It just may help make your proposals winners by a nose.

If, on the other hand, you’d like help writing persuasive proposals, click the button below and let us hear from you.


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