Writing Proposals

The client says, “Your recommendations sound terrific.” That’s good. Then the client says, “Can you put together a proposal? Something I can take to my boss, Mr. Sale Stopper?”

That’s good too. Right?WRONG!Why? For a couple of reasons:First, if you haven’t already noticed, customers learn in “prospect school” that the best way to avoid buying is to procrastinate. When they do this, they are neither saying “no” nor “yes.” The result is that they can maintain the relationship with us (the seller), continue to pick our brains (maybe even getting our expertise for FREE and buy from the cheapest bidder), all without making any sort of commitment. This sets the tone for the future relationship. A relationship that is “one-sided.” A relationship where WE have to perform, yet they can continue to postpone, delay and maybe even not live up to their side of the bargain. Even if we do get the business, we can end up working like dogs while they drag their heels with decisions and pay us in their own good time.Sound familiar?The second reason to not just roll over to the proposal request is that it may give them reasons for NOT doing business with us. Since proposals are not an interactive process, we may inadvertently say the wrong thing and never even know why we lost the sale.Here’s the way I recommend handling the proposal request:PROSPECT: “Can you put together a proposal for us?”
SELLER: “Sure, no problem. May I ask you a question?”
SELLER: “If we are able to develop a proposal that is acceptable to Mr. Sale Stopper, what would happen next?”
PROSPECT: “We would do business.”
SELLER: “Great! If I understand you correctly then, only you and Mr. Sale Stopper are responsible for making the final decision to move forward?”
PROSPECT: “Correct.”
SELLER: “Sounds good. Let’s review some of the things that we need to put in the proposal to make this happen. You mentioned our weekly service call. What else should we include? What are your key concerns? What are the best solutions? What is most important to Mr. Sale Stopper? Really? Why? What things will be important to you and Mr. Sale Stopper in the future? What would be the main reason Mr. Sale Stopper would not approve the proposal?”
SELLER: “This is great. Do you think we’ve developed a winning proposal so far?
PROSPECT: “It sounds good.”
SELLER: “Perhaps I can help you further. Customer service is critical to our firm, and for this reason we have a policy on presenting proposals. Our company requires us to deliver the proposal and present it directly to the buying team. This eliminates any possible confusion, maximizes use of your time and gives you a chance to ask questions. When do you think we may be able to do that with you and Mr. Sale Stopper?”
PROSPECT: “Well, maybe next Monday at 10am.”
SELLER: “Great. Now let’s look at another scenario. Even with all the elements that we have included in the proposal, it is possible that Mr. Sale Stopper might not go for our proposal. In that event, what would happen next?”
PROSPECT: “Well, I guess we wouldn’t do business.”
SELLER: “Sounds fair. When would you anticipate making that decision?”
PROSPECT: “Well, a few days after the proposal, I guess.”
SELLER: “That sounds reasonable. So if I understand you correctly, Mr. Sale Stopper and yourself will make a final decision on this by Wednesday, at close of business?”
PROSPECT: “I think we can do that.”
SELLER: “Great. I’ll be working on putting in writing what we’ve developed today. Can I ask one more thing?”
SELLER: “Can I call you on Friday to just check in and confirm everything. Perhaps you and Mr. Sale Stopper might think of something else that needs to be added to our proposal?”
PROSPECT: “Sure.”With this technique, we have significantly increased our chances of developing a winning proposal, as well as lessened the chance of continued procrastination. Most importantly, this is no longer OUR proposal. It is the CLIENT’S proposal. We have strategically secured agreement in advance of putting things in writing. We have created greater value to the proposal on agreeing to a presentation time rather than just mailing or delivering the proposal to the client. And we set a deadline for the approval or denial of the proposal.I will assure you that this technique works nearly every time. It does, however, require practice. If you are interested in learning how to implement techniques such as these, inquire about our upcoming class, “Out-Marketing the Competition.” In this class we work on branding, differentiation, proposal development and how to make our marketing initiatives more persuasive, compelling, client-centered and profitable.

Posted in Marketing Strategies, Sales Improvement, Uncategorized.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *