Why proposals are never, ever, going away

Raise your hand if you love writing proposals. No hands? That’s not at all surprising. Most people hate writing proposals. We find them a time consuming, mind-numbing, brain draining, frustrating chore. Yet buyers love receiving proposals, and this method of pitching for business is not going to go away anytime soon.

Why not?

Imagine for a moment that you’re got an important social event coming up. (Not really a stretch, with Christmas and the party season right around the corner.)

Maybe shopping isn’t your favourite thing. But looking at your closet, things are pretty dire. You really need to buy something new to wear.

  • You could go to a crowded shopping centre and fight it out with dozen of other people for a car park. Then, you’d have to slog your way through dozens of stores in the hope that one of them might carry what you are looking for. It’s a drain on your time and patience.
  • Or, you could stay home, and check out the online stores for options. You wouldn’t have to fight the crowds, but there's still a lot of stuff to sift through to try to find something you might want. This takes a huge amount of time.
  • Or, here’s another option – you could book a session with a personal shopper. You’d tell them what you want, they would sit you down in a dressing room with a glass of champagne and bring you outfit after outfit to try on. This isn’t a drain on your time or your patience. In fact, it's almost like going to a day spa.

This is exactly the experience that buyers get when they put out a brief or tender and invite a response.

They get a whole bunch of people bending over backwards to craft a proposal that fits their taste and needs. They don't have to go out and foot-slog around the market. They don't have to listen to 20 people pitch in person. They don't even have to talk to you if they don't want to.

Why would they do all that work, when they can get you to do it for them for free?

If you think that proposals are an imperfect way to pitch what you do, you would be right. But they are not going anywhere, because they simply make the buyer's life very easy.

It all comes back to the distribution of labour. Under the old system of buying, where buyers had to take the time to build a relationship before they did business with you, most of the effort was theirs. Under the current system, the position is reversed.

So proposals are never, ever, going away. Even if you hate doing them, you still need to find a way to make them work for you.

If this is a problem you need to solve in your business, talk to me - I can help.