3 Ingredients to Successful Proposals

Robert-photo-w-icon-150-4-7-10-FINAL4-150x150There are three key ingredients that help earn a customer’s commitment on your proposed solution.

Gaining customer commitment on your proposal begins by identifying the key stakeholders in the customer’s decision, learning why they are influential, and aligning the benefits of your proposal to meet their needs. This enables the development of advocates for your proposal within the customer’s organization, and reinforces your position as a problem-solving business partner, not a peddler. Responding to requests for quotation without following this stakeholder identification/aligned proposal process communicates that you are a commodity supplier, chasing the order but not the relationship.

Once you have a more comprehensive understanding about your prospect’s business, include these 3 ingredients in your proposal to synchronize it with the needs of the key decision-makers:

1. Produce quantifiable financial value

Specify how your solution will produce quantifiable value, a financial benefit, that helps execute their strategies and achieve their goals. Since your real competition is the customer’s current process, learn what works well about it and what they need to improve. Seek first to improve their revenue by explaining how your solution can increase their sales, productivity or throughput. Solutions that increase revenue and promote growth build more enduring relationships than those that reduce costs. If revenue enhancement is not an option, then seek to save time or reduce materials cost, inventory or waste. Describe your proposed benefits in the language of management, the language of money.

2. Strengthen competitive advantage

Learn the uncommon value of your customer’s business, their distinctive competitive advantage that has enabled their growth. Once you have decided how to propose the quantifiable financial advantage your solution will produce, enhance your description of that benefit by defining how it also strengthens their differentiation and competitive advantage.

3. Win when they win

Convince them that you are more interested in helping them make them money than in taking their money. Contribute to their success by engaging in the long-term generation of value.

    • Learn how they will define success for their project and suggest metrics that enable the evaluation of results produced by your solution versus their goals.
    • Propose two or three alternative solutions – customers appreciate options and offering them reduces their decision risk.
    • Connect your compensation to generated results through gain sharing, performance validated final payment or bundling discounts for future purchases of related items.

How do your proposals describe the quantifiable financial benefits you can produce?

How do you convince your customers that you win when they do?

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