What Buyers Think When They Review Your Proposal
Put yourself in the shoes of your buyer.
Truly understanding the pain points of a buyer is your ticket to working with them. Put some real thought into how they perceive you. Before submitting a proposal, go through it one last time and try to think of how they review your proposal. Think about their thought process and emotional response. It can be hard to step back to get a big picture look at your document, so we’ve highlighted 5 elements of successful proposals. Getting into the minds of your buyers while focusing on these elements is one of the key steps to success.
The look and feel of a proposal is essential to closing the deal. Does it feel like there was effort put into the writing and visuals? Did a seasoned professional create this proposal? Or is it a barely modified Microsoft Word template?
Whatever it is, it should look clean and professional. Avoid cheesy stock photos. Stick to amazing color palettes and font choices, and keep everything consistent. Most importantly – the aesthetics of your proposal should fit your company’s branding. Whether your website is crisp and modern, or quirky and colourful, your proposals should give off the same vibe and stay consistent with your branding.
Let’s play devil’s advocate here. If you were the one receiving your proposal, how would it make you feel? Would you be impressed? Would you be excited to work with the person who sent it? Does it convey confidence, professionalism, and effort? If your proposal doesn’t look slick and sexy, you’ve already lost.
2. Previous Success
No matter whose hands a proposal ends up in, they will question your ability to perform. Show off your past results and any related projects you’ve worked on. Whether a buyer explicitly asks for references or not, it’s a good idea to include them.
People need something memorable to tie your expertise to. Everyone loves a good story, so tell them one that sticks. 90% of all purchasing decisions are made subconsciously and stories run deep. Buyers need a story to link to your name. They need to see what you’ve done that speaks to repeating success with them. When asked who they hired on, they’ll be explaining who you are through your experience and expertise.
Imagine this buyer’s journey. You’ve done your research. You requests proposals from the top candidates. You’ve had a conference call or a meeting with their team. You’ve taken time to explain your unique strengths, challenges, goals and pain points.
Then you receive the proposal.
It’s clearly their standard template, sent out to everyone they meet with. It doesn’t specifically address anything you’ve talked about. They’re pitching the same solution to everyone. They didn’t listen to your needs. The chances of them listening to you while working together are going to be slim to none.
Templates are great for saving time. However, you still need to cater to the buyer’s specific needs. When a buyer reads a proposal, they’re looking for something that speaks to them on a personal level. Business can be cold. make your partnerships friendly.
4. Comparison to Competitors
“What are my other options?” will be a question that rings through a buyer’s head every step of the sales process. Once you submit your proposal, it’s time for the buyer to make their decision. Which company is the best fit for fulfilling the buyer’s needs?
It’s okay to be aggressive. What if you gave them an objective comparison chart? Going head-to-head with your top competitors in your proposal is a power play. You might not know their pricing but you can compare skill sets and capabilities. Being transparent about alternative options helps buyers evaluate their options. Showcase your competitive advantages and be honest.
5. Sell the Solution
Your proposal outlines everything you’re going to do to reach their goals. deliverables and deadlines. What you’re selling them are core services, expertise and ability to get the job done. But the only thing the buyer is really thinking about is that last one: getting the job done. They’re buying solutions. Put yourself in a position where the buyer is excited to put an end to their stress. End with a strong close and ask for the job.
“When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.” -Franklin D. Roosevelt
The Takeaway: Your buyer wants a personalized document that is a representation of who you are and how you’ll help them. Give that to them with an on-brand proposal that conveys your successes and results. Show off your skills, make them want you, and throw in a confident power play. Then, when you’ve landed the client, impress the hell out of them.