It’s time to rethink your tired and boring proposals. Reevaluate the colors and the graphics. Listen carefully to what your client or prospect told you during your initial meeting with them. Your client’s comments should dictate the overall theme of your work, and you should consider adding humor whenever you can, if it is appropriate. Humor will engage your client or prospect, and it will add to your enjoyment in presenting your work. Remember, buyers seek an “experience” with us over simply a product or result.

Recently, a prospect of mine told me he felt like he had been “strapped to a barrel” at his company’s last renewal. Our firm capitalized on the opportunity to use barrel images throughout our proposal to let the prospect know he was heard. The cover of our proposal was an old black and white photo of the first man to plummet to his death in a barrel over Niagara Falls. We were awarded the business on the basis of our qualifications, which were creatively presented.

Here are my top ideas for innovating with proposals:

1. Use trendy colors to keep the appearance fresh. We use Microsoft Publisher for our proposals, making it very easy to change color schemes as trends change.

2. Revisit your logo. What do your logo and tag line say about you? We wanted ours to say we are approachable, informal, here to serve, creative and easy to get in touch with.

3. Eliminate tired images, ideas and buzzwords from your materials. The more your proposals look and read like your competitors’, the harder it will be for you to distinguish your firm from them. Eliminate empty words and phrases like “trusted advisor,” “partnership” and “quality service.”

4. Challenge yourself to redesign your proposal pages and refresh your materials at least every 12 months. Invest in a quality color printer for your office and stop sending your materials out to be professionally printed — it stifles creativity and innovation. You will keep your competitors guessing as to what you’re going to do next.

5. Inject humor into your proposals every chance you get. For example, your life insurance section could politely remind people that despite all medical advancements, doctors are unable to defeat death, the chance of which still remains steady at 100%.

6. Think about how you talk about your services. People rarely care about buying from the oldest and the biggest agency in town. They care about what you can do for them. Make sure your agency’s proposals shine with tangible examples of your passion, great response times, innovative ideas, and unique methods and philosophies.

Editor’s note: The preceding Million Dollar Sales Idea was originally published in the August 2007 issue of Life Insurance Selling.

For more Million Dollar Sales Ideas, click here.

For more on sales presentations, see:

7 tips for improving your presentation skills

Visual works for CI sales

Show and tell