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Expert Answers to Biz Questions

Listen in! Pick up some expert advice to a reader's question that we selected from CyberSchmooz.

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The Biz Question

Idea Cafe ran a practice sheet on news releases that was spectacular, so simplistic, just what I needed. I need the same format for a proposal...what goes in paragraph 1 and so on. I have a paralegal service, targeting attorneys and need help with how to present the service as a money-making alternative to hiring costly temps. Help me please!

Natalie

Answer from our Guest Expert Lillyvette Montalvo

Hi, Natalie!

I'd love to help you out with a good recipe for a "well done" proposal!

Brief Company Description (To Whet Their Appetite!)

The first rule of thumb for writing a proposal is to keep it simple, yet be very direct. Begin your proposal by giving the readers a brief summary of your company. Include some facts, such as:

  • When your company was established;
  • Your company's mission statement or objectives (Refer to your business plan for this one);
  • Years of experience in your field (If you have an employee, you could state something like "with 15 years of combined experience…");
  • Describe how your service can save them time and money (Be specific on your advantages over those temps.)

Cost Comparison (Talk Dollars & Sense)

Next, it's a cost comparison. Basically, you can't just tell them that your services are more cost-effective and leave it at that. Since you're trying to be their number one alternative -- and have them pass up those pork barrel temp services -- back up your claims with a market analysis. Roll up your sleeves and do some calling to research how much the temporary services actually cost them. Once you have all of your numbers, do a cost comparison.

Your cost comparison info can be based on the short-term and long-term. For instance, if you find out that some of your services are a bit more expensive for short-term projects, then be sure to include the long-term costs -- that's where you may have an edge. In addition, since you're already a seasoned paralegal, your experience will give you an extra appeal.

Other Facts to Consider

When researching price, find out if they use persons who actually have skills in your field or if they actually need some training to carry out the tasks they'll be assigned in a successful manner. This may prove to be your ace in the hole! No matter how minimal, training temps is a drain on their time and money -- not the agency's. Since you're a skilled professional in this area, you're ready to roll yesterday! Consider incorporating this in your cost analysis or even use this as a separate issue for your proposal.

Conclusion (a.k.a. Your Graceful Exit)

Conclude your proposal by letting them know how to reach you, and that if they would like to obtain some references, you'd be happy to provide them with some names and phone numbers. The latter will get them to contact you; in achieving that, you can demonstrate your professionalism and your willingness to work with them.

The Cover Letter (Don't Mince Words)

After you've got your proposal completed, write a brief cover letter for your proposal that lets the readers know that what follows is your proposal for saving them time and money. The key word here is, brief. Use a personalized salutation for each prospective lawyer you contact; thank them for their time in reviewing your enclosed proposal, which is about how your paralegal service will be of interest to them; and sign off in style.

Let's review. The following ingredients make up a healthy, well-balanced proposal:

  • A short, but sweet Cover Letter;
  • A Brief Description of Your Company.
  • A Cost Comparison (short-term and long-term)
  • Additional Data that reinforces your abilities and cost-effectiveness
  • Conclusion

Don't make your proposal too lengthy since you don't want them to toss it out with their junk mail. Simply include the cover letter, brief proposal, and your business card.

When asked for a more formal proposal directed to a specific project, you'll provide greater detail. Yet still try to stay as brief as possible.

Best of success to you!

Lillyvette Star Capital, Inc.

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