For most people in business, proposals are not a joy – they’re simply a hassle.
Proposals chew up a lot of your time and resources. You spend hours, days or weeks slaving away over them, and when you lose, there are no prizes for second place. Customers don’t give you useful feedback (or any feedback) and it can be impossible to work out what you’re doing wrong.
Imagine your most recent proposal has just been graded, and is sitting in a stack, on a desk, inside your buyer’s office.
On the bottom at level 1 are the proposals that are the most unappealing. If yours is in this part of the pile, we need to do some work on your message – what you are actually selling.
Above this at level 2 are the proposals the buyer found unclear; they didn’t quite “get it”. Here, we need to work on your presentation.
Above the line are the level 3 proposals the buyer sees as competent. On the surface, these seem okay, but they often lack evidence to support the claims you’re making. Without this, you won’t be winning business as often as you should be.
Where you want to be is at levels 4 and 5. Level 4 proposals are convincing, and show a level of strategy and insight that others don’t. At level 5, you’ve really made it; your proposals are so compelling that buyers simply can’t say no to you. At this level, you’ll be able to leverage more business, at better margins, because you are positioned as the go-to people in your market space.
Compelling and convincing proposals are a combination of style, substance and relevance. Problems happen when any one of these elements is missing; the “proposal” becomes a brochure, a report, or a presentation, none of which is likely to get you hired.
A proposal effort that isn’t getting you results can leave you feeling stuck and frustrated – like being trapped in the movie Groundhog Day. But no matter where you’re starting out, there is always a way to improve.
|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.|
Is it time to pimp your proposals? Stop wasting time and money on proposals that go nowhere. The Pimp My Proposals program will give you the feedback, content and structure you need to build compelling proposals that win business. Learn what you’re doing wrong, and how to fix it. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 03 9557 4585 to find out more.