If you’re a vendor, there are lots of ways to lose business opportunities. Here, some free advice on how to make sure your proposal remains at the bottom of the stack at decision time:
1. Don’t ask questions to try to clarify, and draw out, what the client really wants and needs. Just slam out that proposal and cross your fingers that you hit the mark.
2. When you cut-and-paste from prior proposals that you’ve submitted to other companies, be sure that you leave the wrong company name in once or twice. Also, bad grammar and misspellings are recommended to help assure the client that you are, indeed, detail-oriented.
3. Take whatever off-the-shelf stuff you have, or prior approaches that you’ve taken, and re-package it. Clients appreciate a lack of creativity and thought.
4. Either include so little detail that no-one can tell what you’re actually proposing, or make the proposal so dense with boilerplate lingo and excessive detail that no-one can stand the process of considering you.
5. By all means, spend no time on attractive graphics that easily summarize your solution in an at-a-glance, 30,000-foot fashion. Most clients have tons of time to process a myriad of words and come up with summaries themselves.
6. When presenting the budget, don’t give any breakdowns. Also, be sure not to present creative alternatives, options, and different levels. Just try to get clients locked into one big round number.
7. Don’t listen. Clients are not as smart as you, and they need to remember that.
If you follow this advice, you’re sure to succeed. At helping others win the business.
Courtney Benson says
Your o so right on!
Bob Rodman says
Don’t print my response. I started to laugh because you violated rule 2…you have a typo: yo instead of you.
And best of all Courtney doesn’t seem to know the difference between your and you’re…or is she using a modern Engish short hand???
Just kidding around!
You pass the test! We’ll just pretend that it was deliberate (now that you found the INTENDED misspelling, I corrected it) to see who would win the eagle-eye contest.
Grate Job re-enforcing point 2 about misppelings!
Shane Gibson says
This extends into the rest of the sales process. How many sales people and marketers still think it’s about THEM? I had to laugh at point 2 though. I was writing two proposals last week and accidentally wrote the name of one client in the other proposal. Those of us who are big picture doers should really get everything proofread before it leaves the office. I posted a comment and a link to this entry on my sales blog:
Nick Moreno says
Your article would be very funny if it wasn’t so true! A sales proposal should start with a great Executive Summery because that’s one section that’s sure to be read. Keep the Executive Summery as short as possible and very focused on exactly what you are proposing and how your client will benefit from it.
Founder, Head Sales Coach
The National Sales Center
Sales Sage says
I enjoyed your entry and I am sure that even the best of us have been guilty of one or two of these at some point in our career. I especially agree with point #2. So much so that many years ago I implemented a rule in my company that makes it mandatory for every formal proposal to be proofread by by at least 2 other people in the organization. A second and third set of eyes can almost always find the mistake our own tired eyes didn’t see.