Commentary & Analysis
If You Can’t Write the Proposal, Don’t Expect The Sale
By WhatTheyThink Staff
Published: February 27, 2007
--- Special Feature If You Can’t Write the Proposal, Don’t Expect The Sale By Jeannette McMurtry, MBA February 27, 2007 -- Forgive me for stating the obvious here, but a critically important part of selling is the business proposal. As intuitive as this concept is, its amazing to me how many professionals take this step for granted. It’s not enough to schmooze business associates, buy them dinner and drinks, impress them with your intellect and wit, and then hand over a ledger style estimate. Business proposals should be a direct reflection of your business’ strengths To be most effective, business proposals should be a direct reflection of your business’ strengths --the quality of your offerings and service, and the emotionally-fulfilling experience your customers enjoy. They must excite and inspire in order to close. For example, if you compete on the extras you provide that others don’t, your proposal should communicate this in a way that excites prospects about the uncommon value you offer. In my case, I sell myself on my ability to create emotional connections between customers and brands. As a result, my new business pitches must create emotion among my prospects. When I succeed at exciting them about the impact I can make and inspire them to reach new heights for their business, I most often close the account. The key here is that the proposal does for them what I intend to do for their customers. Emotional Selling I call the above process of creating emotionally relevant business proposals emotional selling. When your proposals are founded on direct relevancy and create enthusiasm and other emotions, you’ll likely see an increase in your lead conversion rate. Emotional selling might seem like a bit of a stretch for the on-demand business, but it's not. Today’s marketing managers are under a great deal of pressure to be accountable for results and overall ROI. To feel secure in their jobs, they need services that allow them to track and report results, show increases in response rates and sales, and operate at maximum efficiency. Business proposals should show how you can do this for them, and thus provide them with emotional security, a sense of achievement, and relief from the pressure and stress they feel daily. Consider including response rate comparisons for personalized marketing programs and other marketing methods. This story just gets better every year. When your proposals are founded on direct relevancy and create enthusiasm and other emotions, you’ll likely see an increase in your lead conversion rate. Personalized vs. Generalized Make your prospects feel like they were worth the effort to put together a proposal just for them. Include their logo, reference them by name, outline the needs they expressed to you in detail, and so on. If you do this, you’ll give them a sense of the attention to detail they can expect when working with you. A hurried proposal that shows no thought to their specific requests sends just the opposite message and likely won’t increase your chances of getting the business. Here are some steps that will help boost the impact of your business proposals: * Start with a summary of the business need at hand to let your prospect know you listened to them and understand their needs. * Show how your services and suggestions will help meet the business goals they’ve shared with you. * Outline satisfaction guarantees, friendly return policies, customer service programs that might help to eliminate any fear of doing business with you. In other words, make an effort to show them that their satisfaction is more important than your gain. * Customize a loyalty program that offers relevant rewards for their ongoing business. * Describe in detail any appropriate training or service programs to illustrate the total experience you offer. * Make it look professional. If it’s sloppy, not well organized, or looks dull, you will present the same image for your customer service and finished products. Never let even the smallest detail slip as it is a reflection on how you will produce their work. Everything you do during the selling process should work toward making customers feel secure, comfortable and confident about working with you. Nissan, and other companies, get great mileage from customer reference programs which provide prospects a list of happy customers they can call to get the real scoop on a company’s products and customer service. When I bought a pre-owned car a while ago, I asked the dealer if I could speak to the previous owner. Within the hour I found myself talking to this most credible spokesperson. His satisfaction, trust and enthusiasm for the dealer with whom I was working was a powerful influencer in my decision to buy the car. Include a list of customer references in your proposal before you are asked. And then take care of these most valued customers as if your life depends on their happiness, because in all reality, it does! I’d love to hear from you. If you have any questions or suggestions for future topics. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.