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You have a service that you truly believe can fill the gap, and now you need to bring it to life. The right timing, a way of reaching those potential clients and of course a good business proposal are key.
Then, there's the matter of convincing future clients to sign off on your plan. Proposals aren't finished the moment you send them, that's just half the task completed. The other half is in getting the client on your side and have them think that it's in their best interests to move forward with your offer.
If you're looking for ways to up your chances of landing that deal, follow these steps.
If you've worked the marketing front, or tried to sell a product or service before, then you'll know that benefits are actually more important than features. It makes total sense to start the proposal with your client in mind. Spell out the benefits they will get from your services, what will change and how you'll deliver what's promised in the proposal.
Your clients will be more interested in how your idea can save them time, bring down production costs or change their business. For every feature, have a corresponding benefit and elaborate on that more. Make it easy for your clients to understand and see what you can bring to the table. More importantly, the plan should make potential clients excited about what's to come.
The majority of proposals are delivered and introduced with a meeting. Presenting the proposal should be as smooth as your written proposal. Rehearse, go over it slowly and carefully and keep on refining it until the presentation is well-oiled. Your close should be a natural progression to the moment the client decides to agree to your proposal. Look for telltale signs that the client is conducive to the plan to possibly seal the deal right then and there.
This isn't an optional part of the proposal. Always prepare for objections as you won't be able to fully address any questions or concerns that could come up. Feedback, questions and "what-ifs" are just part of the process, so make sure you're equipped with the right answers.
Try to anticipate the concerns that may come up with your own FAQ notes. Put yourself in the client’s shoes and write down answers for the most common objections. These should be short and to the point to prevent confusion. Deliver it in a confident manner so you convey trust and confidence.
Try to keep a defined line between answering key questions with regards to the proposal and questions that are part of the service. This can save clients creating on-the-fly solutions that put control out of your hands. Try “That’s something we can define in our first meeting or in the discovery phase”.
The golden rule is to keep following up until you get a definite, straightforward response. Don't assume that they're not interested if nothing happens after trying once. There are various reasons for the non-response, and it could be that they'd want to speak to you over the phone or in person rather than email. They may have points they need to clarify or other stakeholders to consult.
Call to address any hesitation and see how you can convince your client to sign up. Follow up to get a clear answer, even if it's a no.
Add Great Sign-Off Solutions
Old-fashioned proposal sign-offs are, well, outdated. Today, clients expect consultants to provide easy, intuitive and convenient solutions, including sign-off procedures.
Instead of sending the form via courier or email and having your client scan, print or fax it back, make it available online and with a secure signature platform. If you can, use web-based proposals which are viewable on browsers for a faster sign-off (and less nail-biting).
Believe it or not, deadlines are great motivators that work in business proposals as well. It's one way of saving time and effort making numerous follow-ups when you know that your clients will have an answer by X date.
Make it less intimidating by creating boundaries that are within your client’s needs and set timelines. This can make them react and get you an answer to your proposal in a timely manner.
This can also work in your favour when your projects are stacking up, allowing you to negotiate turnaround times. Proposing a start date (and end date if required) can also imply not only that your services are valuable and in demand, but also conveys urgency for a proposal to be accepted prior to the start date.
Start working on business proposals in collaboration with your client's goals and objectives, but be flexible. This way you get them involved with your project. You could have the perfect proposal template, say one from Qwilr, or a killer sales pitch, but chances are that the plan or pricing structure will be modified when the client takes a good look at it. Clients who have had a hand in the plan won't quickly reject the proposal because they feel a sense of ownership.
Follow these steps and you'll have a greater chance (and a more pleasant) business proposal experience. Be professional, confident and clear so you can close the deal on your own term.