Policy Works blog | Commercial lines bliss

Five words to never use in your proposal

Written by Kathleen Kotchon | Feb 25, 2016 8:16:00 PM

Is your proposal full of fluff that distracts from its objective? Other than to close the sale, is your objective perfectly clear? That is, is your proposal making random suggestions or offering concrete solutions? It’s all subliminal and choosing the right words are powerful.

Going through proposals and removing passive or unnecessary words is often the quickest way to improve proposals, and highlight where your producers may need to ask more questions or offer solutions without being too pushy.

Here are my top five words to remove or change in your proposal, especially in your cover letter or conclusion:

1. Should

‘Should’ is a word that represents the past or the future. And you want the proposal signed sooner, not later. "You should purchase this coverage," or "I should get back to you on Monday” sounds wishy-washy. Replace ‘should’ with commitment words like ‘must’ ‘need’ or ‘promise.’

2. Very

Mark Twain summed it up with his famous quote: “Substitute 'damn' every time you're inclined to write 'very'; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.”

Can’t argue with that.

3. Really

Which sentence sounds better? “This coverage is a really good price” or “This coverage is competitively priced.” ‘Really’ suffers from the same inferiority complex as ‘very’ in that it doesn’t really change the objective of the sentence. Really, this is too much.

4. Intend

‘Intend’ and its buddies ‘attempt, contemplate’ and ‘have in mind.’ These words indicate incompletion. As Yoda once said, “do or do not, there is never intend.” Or something like that.

Never use this word or dispute the Jedi Master.

5. Obviously

Obvious to whom? ‘Obviously, self-explanatory’ and ‘straightforward’ come off as insulting and lazy. Replace ‘obviously’ with ‘evidently’ or ‘clearly.’ You can also try getting rid of these words altogether.

If your brokerage is not using templates to create proposals, adopt a process as soon as possible. Templates are the best way to begin fitting your proposal into your customer’s environment. For example, you may have an excellent proposal template for a contractor that you use repeatedly but this template is a poor fit for a completely different class of business like a hair salon.

Put yourself in your customer’s shoes—you’re not selling a product or service by itself, you are proposing a way to improve their business.