If you’re selling a service, proposals are part of your processes. They are the documents that your ideal customers will use to differentiate you from your competitors. They’re more than price lists. They have to be more than templates. They must do more than sell—they must serve.
The modern-day definition of an effective proposal varies greatly from those of the past. It’s more than a tool for price comparison. Your prospective clients will use it to determine if you’re the right brand for them.
So how can you convince them of that?
I have a plan.
Tailored Proposals, from a Unique Brand
We talk often about how the key to selling is serving. It’s your job to offer as much value to your customers as you can, at all opportunities. You may have never considered this, but offering value starts with the proposal.
When prospects see that you’re already giving them value before they become customers, they’re likely to say “Hey, if I’m getting this much value already, imagine how much I’ll get when I’m a customer.”
So how can you write proposals that serve? Here are my top tips:
- Never Use Templates or Price Lists. I’ve referenced this above, but it bears repeating. When a prospective client receives a proposal that is not tailored to his or her needs, they immediately know they’re not worth your time. And from that, they will deduct that being a customer of yours will be nothing special. Create a system for writing proposals by keeping a loose outline to guide your writing, whilst avoiding cookie-cutter communications.
- Employ Gap Analysis. The competition has gaps in its service. You know this because you’re reading reviews of their brands and you’re talking to your ideal customers (some of whom are their clients). Use this knowledge to write proposals that work to fill those gaps. There’s no need to name the gaps (or those other brands) specifically. Instead, make direct connections with your prospective clients by giving them information and advice that demonstrate how you will meet their [so-far unfulfilled] needs.
- Conduct an Interview First. Before writing any proposal, connect with the client, to gain a solid understanding of their specific challenges, pains and needs. This could be in the form of a telephone interview, Skype call, questionnaire, or any other type of information-gathering method you see fit. Use what you learn to demonstrate, through the proposal, how you will meet their needs. This will prove not only that you’ve listened, but that you understand their requirements and that you’re equipped (and ready) to meet them.
- Express your USP. Your Unique Selling Proposition is that thing that differentiates your brand from the competition. It’s the thing you’ll use to position your brand in the market and the thing that people will remember most about your brand. A proposal is a great place to exercise your USP, in a way that directly impacts the people who will appreciate it most intensely. Maybe your customer service is above-average, or your production process more innovative. Express this through your proposal, to set it apart from the others.
- Make it a Gift. When your prospects are finished reading your proposals, they should feel that they’ve learnt something, acquired something or experienced something unique. Now is the time to let go of the idea that you must keep all of your intellectual property under wraps until they’ve signed a contract. Instead, give freely in order to establish trust and to give them a good indicator of what more they can expect to receive. This is a simple (and cost-free) path to customer acquisition.
- Make a Recommendation. Refer back to your initial conversation or survey completed by your potential customer. Think of some advice you could give them, so they can move forward and improve their business or their life…even if they don’t contract with your brand. Sound crazy? Believe me, you’ll get used to the idea. You’ll notice an increase in the number of accepted proposals, and you’ll remain top-of-mind in your ideal customers’ brains, even after they contract with the other guy.
Unless you’re selling a small-pound item, proposals should be a regular part of your sales process—and they can always be improved, to make better impressions, build trust, expand lists and increase profits.
Need more help with proposals? Or help with finding your USP, your best survey options, branded language or your ideal customer? Then you need the B.R.A.N.D. Building Bootcamp, where you’ll learn the three strategies I used to take my business from £0 to £18,000 in just 12 weeks. Click here to learn more and to register.