In last week’s blog post, Michelle Baca presented the first four steps for developing winning proposals, which focused on the internal preparation of your proposals. This week, Krista Remer will complete the series on proposals by sharing steps five through seven with a focus on how to actually deliver your proposal and then follow up with your prospect to close the deal.
Before we dive into the last three steps, let’s briefly review the first four:
- Conduct a thorough needs analysis
- Produce the proposal itself
- Determine the “look” of your proposals
- Create a systemized, repeatable process
Now you’re ready to share how you’re going to solve your prospect’s problem and help them achieve their goals!
5. Deliver your winning proposal
Whenever possible, present your proposal in person. This allows you to answer questions and uncover objections immediately and read the body language of your prospect decision-makers as you take them through the proposal. If the decision-making process includes presenting to a committee, board, or another group, consider developing a short PowerPoint presentation to summarize the key points of your proposal. You should attempt to include both your “technical” partners or managers and your firm’s rainmakers in delivering proposals whenever feasible. Be sure to discuss in advance of the meeting what roles each person will play, For example, determine who will facilitate the discussion, who is the technical resource, and who is the main “relationship builder,” although all in attendance should attempt to establish rapport with the prospect.
When you cannot deliver your proposal in person due to distance or direction from the prospect, be sure to re-read your materials to ensure all of the information your prospect needs is supplied. Schedule a conference call or offer to facilitate a Zoom meeting with the decision-maker(s) as soon after delivering the proposal as possible to answer questions and address the next steps.
6. Close the engagement
Once you have presented your solution and conquered any objections, ask for your prospect’s business. The proposal itself won’t do this! There are several methods for doing so, including the:
- Straightforward close (“If there are no more questions, are you comfortable completing our paperwork and scheduling a date to started?”)
- Reverse close (“Can you think of any reasons why you wouldn’t choose our firm for this project?”)
- Trial close (“Provided you choose our firm, what do you view as the next step for us in this process?”)
- Assumptive close (“When would you like to get started?”)
Whichever method you choose, be sure the prospect knows you are interested in moving forward with their project. Be sure to keep any commitments you’ve made, too – like following up when you committed to in your proposal meeting. You might also consider sending a personal thank you letter or e-mail after your proposal meeting.
7. Take steps to perfect your proposal process
When you lose an opportunity, take the time to assess why you didn’t win, which requires asking the prospect to share their reasons for choosing someone else candidly – without defense. You may discover certain barriers - and keys - to your success by tracking what you learn and making the appropriate changes to your sales and proposal process based on this input. You will also gain insights when you ask clients why they selected your proposal, so be sure to ask them, too.
Follow these steps and create a consistent, firm-wide proposal process to increase your win ratio and generate more revenue for your firm!
Excellent advice might also add on last step to do postmortem on when your firm wins a proposal including, if possible, checking with client to see what clinched it
Great point, Howard! Thanks for your addition to this important process!