Reasons you may have trouble selling your proposals.

Not everyone has this problem. So, if you clicked on this blog post, and you don’t have this issue I invite you to include your tips in this post.

I work with vendor partners all the time. They are experts in their field…they are marketing strategists, web designers, digital marketers, PR specialists, branding specialists, creative directors and art directors, photographers and photo studios, videographers, product designers, packaging designers…YOU NAME IT, If its related to marketing and creative services, I work with them. One universal difficulty I have is in understanding their proposals. And ultimately I have to “sell” their work as part of an overall project. If I don’t understand it and it is homework for me, imagine them trying to sell it to a customer or prospect who is naturally less familiar with their specialty than I am. I often (admittedly much more often than I would prefer) have to review and revise their proposals multiple times to get them to make it a document that is not only easy to understand but convincing of “our” expertise in this area and compelling enough to the client to make an investment for the work. Not only do clients need to know you can do the work at a specialist level, they need to know you are easy to do work WITH. If your proposal requires them to do homework you are not likely a vendor with whom they want to do business. Do not add work to my plate, dude!

I’m patient with these guys, but I do often SIGH deeply when I get these documents. My vendor partners who are wonderful, talented people always value my input and refinement of their proposals but I really wish they would take a few moments to double check their document before they send it to me. Here are a few check list questions and suggestions I would like them to consider before they push the send button.

a. JARGON – Did I use industry jargon that only I understand? i.e. would your mother understand this document?  b. STATE THE PROBLEM – Did I describe with crystal clarity, the objective (problem my client has) in an opening paragraph with bullet points where possible! Lots of the readers of this document are A personality types…they do not like a lot of narrative…they look for the quickest route to understanding. Bullet points are heaven to them. c. INSIGHTS & OPPORTUNTIES – Did I include insights and missed opportunities? State the current situation demonstrate research you did and the  insights you derived which led you to your recommended approach. d. SOLUTION – For each of those opportunities, what is your suggested solution? And have you described it in terms mama can understand? e. CUT & PASTE – NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, EVER cut and paste from a previous proposal. You often don’t read it carefully and may leave other company names or data in the document and honestly (in my business at least) the previous solution rarely applies exactly as it did for the previous situation. This happens so often, and if I can detect a cut and paste, so can your prospects and clients even if it doesn’t contain typo’s. f. DON’T OVER INFORM – Only include information that is relevant to solving the problem. Don’t over inform. I don’t care about HOW you will do ever tiny thing you will do to solve my problem. I only care that you know what you are doing, just please demonstrate that in the proposal. g. STEP BY STEP – walk me through the steps. Name the step and in parentheses tell me what that step will do in summary (for the A types) Example:1. Discovery / Strategy (define scope of work & vision and create a wishlist), then follow it with a short paragraph of details for the C personalties. Then wrap it up with a list of bullet points of the deliverables for that step.

Example:

DELIVERABLES: 

1. Benchmark of current site metrics

2. Project Scope & vision 

3. Defined site goals / kpi’s

h. COMPARISON CHARTS – When possible, it is great to include charts. Here is where you are Mr. client and here is where we predict you can be over x period of time. i. SUMMARY OF COSTS – LASTLY, the bottom line. What is this investment going to cost? This must be crystal clear without a whole lot of explanation. If by the time the client / prospect gets to this page, your document should have demonstrated;

a. Your understanding of their issue

b. You did your homework and discovered insights they didn’t know about

c. You have the solution to their problem

If you have done this, your final page and final summary of the investment you are requiring them to make, this page should be salve for their aching issues. I hope you will find like I did how easy it is to sell your solutions when you streamline your proposals.

If you ever want an evaluation on your document. I’m happy to take a look. Afterall you may be one of my vendor partners one day!

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