What is a cover letter?
In general, a cover letter is a letter or email that briefly states the content of the mailing. With regard to proposals, it is mainly an extension of a proposal, intended to introduce or clarify it. The writing can be given a concise and extensive form.
Why is a cover letter important?
Depending on what kind of proposal is sent, a cover letter always offers extra opportunities. With extensive project or service proposals, a cover letter often consists of no more than a few lines. This concerns what a customer or prospect can expect in the appendices, possibly supplemented with information about the approval and follow-up of the proposal. In the case of proposals for standard products, more explanation can be given by means of a cover letter and there is an opportunity to add more force to a proposal. Concise or extensive, an accompanying letter always positively contributes to the (building up of the) relationship with a prospect or customer.
What does a comprehensive cover letter say?
A personal salutation is important for both the extended and the concise form. Make sure that it is in the same style as the proposal. If the proposal is formal or if the prospect is not yet known, a salutation with Dear Sir or Madam and then the surname is sufficient. An informal proposal, on the other hand, starts with, for example, Hi John or Hello John.
With proposals for standard products, for example, a cover letter is a good means to explain and / or substantiate important matters. Proposals for standard products are usually elaborate proposals with little room to respond to the needs and motives of the customer or prospect. The role of a cover letter or e-mail is significantly greater in this case. Tendering companies articulate here the elements that are discussed in an extensive tailor-made proposal. In this way, one can briefly summarize the conversation in an accompanying letter. The customer or prospect will then notice that they have been listened to carefully. There is also room to emphasize the benefits when purchasing from the proposal company. Think of the speed and flexibility of delivery, warranty and other benefits.
Advice: stick to the so-called 80/20 rule. The biggest pitfall of sales professionals and entrepreneurs is that, often driven by passion for the product or company, the proposal is more about them than about the (situation at the) customer or prospect. Therefore, spend only 20% on things such as Unique Selling Points (USPs) or Unique Buyer Reasons (UBRs). If this is difficult, it is better to enclose a good company brochure or presentation instead of a description. Finally, they conclude with enthusiasm and something is mentioned about the follow-up of the quotation. In this way, the maximum is obtained from a cover letter.
Which one is written in a concise version?
When there is an extensive tailor-made quotation, chances are that all important points have been included. Think of the description of the current situation or the reason for the conversation, the desired situation and how, when and at what price this can be realized by the tendering party. Everything is there and yet it would be strange to send this document to a customer or prospect without a cover letter or email.
Certainly given the knowledge that a cover letter helps to build or strengthen the relationship with the prospect or customer, a few rules to accompany the quotation are advisable. One can refer to the conversation that was conducted and that the prospect or customer, as agreed, finds the proposal in the appendices. With an enthusiastic conclusion and mention when contact is made about the proposal, the message is completed and the customer or prospect feels respectfully approached. This in turn has a positive effect on the mindset of the customer or prospect. There is a good chance that the proposal will be opened immediately and with curiosity.
Example extended Cover Letter
Dear Mr. De Vries,
“Stronger through cooperation” you said last Thursday and we could not have been more aligned. During our conversation, in which quite a few ideas came up back and forth, we agreed that I would incorporate this into a proposal. You will find this proposal in the appendices. I would like to explain the quotation below.
Training instead of purchasing
As it became clear to both of us, the solution to the current problems surrounding your telephone exchange does not lie in the purchase of a new telephone exchange, but in a good training system. A system with which your current and future employees can quickly master the operation and function of the SN005 central.
As you can see in the proposal, we have also taken into account the training of your team leaders via a train-the-trainer course. In this way, all knowledge is retained and passed on to new employees. You will save on both the purchase costs of a new plant and the training costs for this new plant.
The prices in this proposal include a two-year warranty. Should there be any updates to this exchange during that period, your employees will receive free training.
Testimonials and customer cases
Since 2001, we have also provided training for the power stations that we sell. Organizations, including the call centers of Mercedez Benz and H&M, are very satisfied with this. With this training system they always have sufficient knowledge. On our website you will find a number of interesting testimonials and customer cases.
We are ready to teach your employees all the ins and outs of the SN005 central and are happy to work for [name of company prospect / customer]! I am therefore curious what you think of this proposal and I will contact you no later than [day] [date] at [time] to inquire about this.
Do you have any questions in the meantime? Do not hesitate to contact me sooner. Would you like to approve the quotation? Then you will find instructions in the appendices on how this can be done.
Example short cover email
Subject: Proposal [number] for [product / service]
How nice it is to be on the same page now, that bodes well for our further cooperation. At [name of company) we are in any case ready!
Attached our online and interactive proposal including a company presentation and the general terms and conditions.
I am curious what you think and will contact you no later than [day] [date] at [time] to inquire about this.
Do you have questions before? Use the ask-a-question function in the proposal or contact me.