4 Pitfalls sabotaging your proposals

Oftentimes when we get to the proposal stage with a client, we assume their business is a sure thing. But if you have been in this business for a while, you know clients have ample time to back out — and occasionally they do. We’ve exposed 4 proposal pitfalls to help you learn how your proposal structure and process could be working against your business and, more importantly, strategies to avoid these issues.

1) No Pain:

If you were effective during your first interaction with the prospect, you were able to discover some of the pains they want to rectify. But in the time that passed from that first conversation, they may have forgotten why they are seeking out your expertise in the first place. You need to help them remember their pain. All too often when proposals are created, they are templated and focused on what you, the provider, can do. Make it personal instead. Speak directly to the specific pain the prospect expressed, and remind them why they need change — and why they need you. Use the proposal as an opportunity to highlight their issues, and prove how you can solve them.

2) No Urgency:

Don’t just make a case for why the prospect needs you, but prove why they need you now. “With each day that passes, you are losing “x” dollars by doing this manually. If you implement our solution within the next six weeks, you would save “y” dollars.” Help them realize the longer they wait, the bigger their issue will become. Give examples of why this is an urgent matter and how your solution can remedy the pains in order to activate the urgency to address those pains.

3) No Differentiation:

Chances are, your proposal sits among a pile of others your prospect is reviewing. Be sure your proposal provides clear examples of what you do that your competition cannot. How do you stand out? How are you different? How do you provide more value than others? Why should your client employ your solution, even if your price is higher, instead of someone else’s? Use your proposal as an opportunity to highlight the specific things only you can do to help take your prospect to the next level.

4) No Presentation:

If you are like most, your inbox overflows with junk and jumble that you may never open. If you send a proposal to your client’s inbox, there is a good chance it too will get lost. And worse, you are missing out on an opportunity to personally explain your solution, which could help prove your value to the client and investment in their business. Instead of just emailing the proposal, plan a call, a face-to-face meeting or a web conference to walk them through the essentials, and to prove why not moving forward with you could be detrimental to them achieving their goals. Show them they are important by giving them the time they deserve to better understand how they can move past their current problem.

Do not let your proposals be a hang up. Instead, make them the key to beginning a new client relationship. Your proposal is your opportunity to prove your worth and value — and a generic proposal, not tailored to the audience’s situation, will likely not be compelling. Put yourself in the prospect’s shoes and think about what would help you make the decision to choose your solution.

Stay tuned: Next week we will hit this topic again — providing some key elements to developing and delivering winning proposals.