Writing and submitting proposals takes time away from what you need to be doing: talking to prospects, assessing needs, helping prospects understand your firm’s unique abilities to deliver the results they desire, agreeing on the value you can deliver to them, and performing the work.
A proposal isn’t a starting point or work in progress. Instead, it should serve as a clear, concise summary of what will be accomplished for the prospective client and the value they will enjoy.
Here are some suggestions for formulating proposals that can ultimately help you close more business:
- Don’t include details about what you’ll do to deliver the benefits outlined in the proposal. The client should already trust you and be convinced that you can deliver the desired results. You can talk about process, develop methodologies, and help them understand what you’ll do, but this doesn’t need to be in the proposal/agreement. Spend time helping your client understand you, your business, your experience, your capabilities, your commitment, and the process you use. Details will just bog down the agreement, and that’s not good for anyone.
- Provide three options in your proposal for accomplishing what the client desires: one with a minimalist scope of services, one with a “middle” scope of services, and one with an extensive scope of services. Of course, the fee requirement for each will be different. One great benefit of the “multiple options” strategy is to get the client to move from “who do I choose?” to “which option of yours do I choose?”
- Identify and work only with the decision-maker or ultimate buyer – the person who can approve the agreement and sign the check. Proposals to non-buyers are a waste of time (and paper and ink). When a non-decision-maker says you have to work with him, explain that your company policy prohibits you from working with non-decision-makers … and that you’re only able to work directly with decision-makers. There is a lot at stake, and neither of you can risk miscommunication or errors due to not involving the decision-maker.
- Establish and include the project’s business objectives in your proposal. Not the deliverables, methodologies, or tasks to be performed, but the objectives that will be accomplished for the client. Include the value of completing each. The items can be for either the company or the person you’re working with (or both).
- Include measures of success for the project. These are the things you’ll both use to evaluate and ensure that progress is being made.
- Don’t deliver the agreement until everything is agreed to between you and the prospect. Each time he or she asks for a proposal, drill down on the terms that need to be clearly agreed upon. Explain that, once you agree on terms, you can deliver a proposal containing the agreed-upon terms. When you have an agreement, and they’re excited to get started and see results, tell them the proposal will be on their desk – in writing – the next day. Then make it happen. There’s no need to present it in person because they’ll need time to review it anyway.
- Include wording about it being contingent on agreement of the fees to be paid. When the client asks for the fees, tell him or her that the first priority is agreeing on what you will be doing before you can provide fees. Then, once the proposal has been reviewed and the prospect has agreed to all the terms, provide the fee proposal with an investment stipulated for each option. Include ROI estimates in your fee proposal for each option. Then, agree with the prospect on when you will follow up (after he’s had a chance to review the fee proposal) if you haven’t heard from him or her already.
This information was gathered from The Business Owner Journal, a publication that offered expertise for the business owner.
Image by Stuart Miles