Many firms lose business opportunities because they approach with proposals in the wrong way. By mistaking proposals as conversation starters instead of confirmation of earlier discussions leading to a contract, firms can alienate potential partners. Here are common mistakes businesses make regarding proposals and what can be done to create better business relations.
Focusing on cost instead of valueAs much as you may want to justify your costs, if that's all you present to clients they may look elsewhere. Part of getting a good deal has to do with what you can do for them to help bring them more customers because that's what they're really paying you for. If price was all that mattered, then it wouldn't be hard for kids in a garage to undercut any price in return for ineffective solutions. That's why you need to emphasize the value you can bring to clients beyond cost savings. Let them know your track record at bringing more business opportunities for other clients.
Bypassing the step to qualify the prospectRemember that before you make a proposal you have to learn about your client's needs. Jumping too far ahead and trying to close the deal too suddenly tends to be a recipe for failure. Hard selling might have worked better last century, when competitors were miles away, but now alternatives are just clicks away. If someone doesn't like your proposal, they can develop a list of alternative candidates in a matter of minutes using the internet.
So before you fire off a proposal, first find out what the client's goals, time frame and challenges are and if you can meet them in both the short and long term. You need to also find out what the client thinks of your services and how they measure success.
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Skipping past developing a relationshipAnother task you need to complete before the proposal stage is establishing a relationship that is confirmed by the prospect. If you skip this step and just send a proposal, it will likely end up in the same tall stack as other proposals that get overlooked. Since purchasing if often driven more by emotions than logic, you need to let them know you are listening to them and that you sincerely care about their needs. By sharing commonalities and showing appreciation, you can build trust.
Not acting like a partnerIf you approach a relationship like an order taker, you will blend in with many other faceless marketers who make it clear they're just out to get sales. But if you explain why your services are effective at expanding business and assure prospects how you can facilitate their needs, you will have a better chance at standing out as a partner.
Lack of clarity on pricingDon't waste time by pushing products or services that make no sense to the prospect. Be more cognizant of their needs and focus on the package that works specifically for them. Start off with the package that makes most sense for their goals and budget. At the same time, offer clarification on what they will be missing if they elect to go with a cheaper package for the sake of cutting corners.
Avoiding a proposal processAlways be prepared and organized enough to offer appropriate custom solutions. Once you learn the prospect's goals and desired metrics, develop a proposal that states campaign goals, benefits, key analytics for measuring success, time frame and budget. The bottom of the form should include a place for the prospect's signature.
Failure to set expectationsWhen the prospect requests for the proposal, which is a major step toward their commitment, contact them by phone or in person to confirm specific details of the proposal. By this point, you are past the stage of persuasion and there is a need to begin speaking in terms of how you expect to get the job done.
Lack of credibility and persistenceThe final step toward getting the contract signed is demonstrating your credibility with as much communication as possible to answer the prospect's questions. Make sure your email correspondence is as professional looking as possible with a clean design that inspires confidence. Consistently follow-up, but remember to exhibit patience.