As business leaders we understand the importance of sales and marketing to grow our businesses. We spend thousands of dollars on a staff of sales people, brochures, flyers, internet campaigns and other methods to get the word out about our company, and the reasons to buy our products or services.
Are you ignoring, however, the last sales document your customer will ever see? I often see companies that have great marketing, brochures, and internet presence who fail to recognize that their proposal document is the last, and probably the most important, sales document that will ever be given to the customer.
At the time you are presenting your company to a prospect, and asking for their business, shouldn’t you be doing all that you can to win over the client and persuade them that your company is superior to all others. Here are five steps to make that happen:
- Winning proposals follow directions – When submitting a competitive proposal, we often receive instructions on what information to provide, and how the client would like to see that information in the proposal. Follow these instructions. Why would you not do what your prospect has instructed you to do?
- Winning proposals inform – Your proposal should inform the client about your company, your experience, your references and unique attributes of your offering to remove any doubt as to your qualifications.
- Winning proposals tell a story – Your proposal should tell an interesting story and be interesting to read! Tell your history, your successes, and your learning experiences in a way that puts a human face to your proposal. A client who can relate to your story is much more likely to want to do business with your company.
- Winning proposals set you apart – What sets you apart from everyone else who is looking for this client’s business? Let your client know what you can provide that no one else can. This is a great place for a letter of reference from a current client who was blown away by your product or service. We all have these experiences in our business. This is the time to tell all about it.
- Winning proposals are pleasing to look at – Your proposal should have graphics, charts, and illustrations that add to the content of the proposal and add variety to the facts and stories you are trying to tell. Have your proposal bound or presented in custom folders to further set your offering apart from the competition. By taking the time to present a beautiful, custom proposal, you are letting your customer know how important their business is to you, and how you will treat them as you do business together.
Remember that your proposal is a living document. You need to constantly update your proposal with each offering. Make each proposal a “custom offering” by carefully reviewing the needs of each prospect and tailoring your proposal to their needs.
After you win the business, make sure you follow up on the promises made in your proposal. Your client will remember what you promised in your proposal, make sure that you follow through on all your promises, and then do a little more. As you deliver on these commitments, you will build a bond with your customers that will cement your relationship and lead to a long lasting, successful, and profitable relationship.
Scott Murray is the President of Confluence Solutions. Confluence Solutions provides customized proposal templates that allow companies to develop customized presentations for prospective clients.