Thursday, April 02, 2015

Bill Arman


Asking for it


A modest proposal won't close the sale. Use these tips to improve your pitches.

May 5, 2010

A great proposal differentiates you from the competition. Photo: SyngentaAcquiring new customers is more important than ever as the industry works to rebound. One key to gaining more customers is preparing great proposals.

Why write a great proposal? It differentiates you from the competition, helps appeal to the buyer’s emotion and intellect, and serves as a tool for your commercial customers to help sell others i.e., HOAs, building owners and managers, etc.

Proposals are also important touch points. A good proposal sets the tone, communicates your expertise and tells clients what your company is all about. A bad one does the same thing – if you can’t put a several-page document together, odds are you can’t run a solid company, either. (See “Building a proposal” on page 56.)

Key tips for building a great proposal
When you sit down to write a proposal, keep these six things in mind:

  1. Focus on the customer. Your sales proposal is customer-centered. It defines their business, their current situation, the financial impact of the proposal and, most importantly, their needs and objectives. Go deep on them.
  2. Learn their needs and be a consultant. A compelling proposal results from a consultative sales process. Avoid “boilerplate” proposals, or proposals that read like poorly written brochures. Ask great questions to discover or uncover their needs. Address their needs in your proposal. Develop a list of 10 questions that gets to the heart of their challenges, and what is important to them in the service provider/customer relationship.
  3. Explain how you will solve their needs. Be specific by including methodology, scheduling and the staffing required to implement the solution. This reduces your buyer’s perceived risk and answers what you will be doing. How will you do it? How long will it take? Who will be performing? Your proposal should explain how your service will work to help with their business. The secret of successful proposals is to focus on what the prospect wants to hear.
  4. Show them the financial benefits. Your proposal measures how your service will make or save money. This provides compelling financial reasons to make a change.
  5. Show them non-financial benefits. Your proposal converts your service’s capabilities into buyer-specific benefits. These are the benefits that are not easy measured in monetary terms. Things like saving them time and anguish, making their life easier, making them look good, etc.
  6. Include pertinent Information. Your sales proposal assures the buyer that your organization can deliver on the contract. It includes a company profile that differentiates your company from the competition and details your certifications, awards and community giving programs. Whatever helps differentiate you from the competition.

The author is head harvester at The Harvest Group.