Would your proposal get a standing ovation?

When we're pitching something new to a customer, our main task is to convince them that will be better off with us than they would be without us. This means transporting them to a brighter, bolder future that they never knew existed; something that too many proposals simply fail to do.

Recently, I saw the stage show Velvet, a disco mash-up featuring burlesque, circus performers and one of Australia’s most enduring pop stars, Marcia Hines.

In the real world, the show ran 90 minutes. In the Velvet world, this felt like only 90 seconds. It was that good.

From the opening bars of the disco classic If You Could Read My Mind to Craig Read’s exuberant, pink and yellow lycra-clad hula-hoop act set to the thumping beat of Shake Your Groove Thing, Velvet was like being transported straight to Studio 54 circa 1974. By the end of the show, DJ Joe Accaria had every single person in the Malthouse Theatre on their feet clapping, cheering and dancing to Earth, Wind and Fire's September – one of my favourite songs of all time. As a pitch for the life-changing power of disco, you’ll never see anything better.

When was the last time you could honestly say that a pitch or proposal you worked on got that kind of reaction - from you, from your team, or from the customer?

Instead of offering a tantalising glimpse into a better future, many proposals feel like a slow descent into purgatory.

Something important gets lost in the translation between the vision in our heads and the words that come out on paper. That’s a real shame, because the picture in your head is often a lot more enticing and transformative than the pitch on the page.

A study of 418 executive-level buyers at companies with more than 100 employees by Forrester Research found that 74% of buyers chose vendors who have worked with them to turn a vision into a clear path to value, compared to those who simply respond to a request.

Next time you’re working on an important pitch or proposal, picture a magical place – the place that you know exists – and take your customers there, instead. Then they’ll be clapping and cheering; at least, on the inside.

Robyn Haydon is a business development consultant specialising in business that is won through competitive bids and tenders. Her clients have won and retained hundreds of millions of dollars worth of business with many of Australia’s largest corporate and government buyers.

Re-Engage is my training and coaching program for organisations with multiple major accounts. It will give your people the framework, skills, and confidence to lead contract renewals with your existing customers. Email info@robynhaydon.com or call 03 9557 4585 to find out more.