I have submitted my proposals in several places but no response, what am I doing wrong?
Most professionals hate writing in general and proposals in particular which makes it bad because it’s actually very hard to do something well if you hate it. Some of the very best account executives, program managers, engineers, designers and business owners that I have met cringe at the thought of having to put their thoughts on paper. So what are the likely errors you’ve made that will Never earn you a call, or makes your proposal a dustbin potential?
- IT IS NOT ABOUT YOU! Now this is a Major mistake most Entrepreneurs make. They go on harping about their product and their company forgetting that the main goal is to “own” a piece of the prospects mind! Focus less on talks about you your product or your company… Sell more on Value! What does your prospect stand to gain and drive in that message persuasively, not just informatively.
- Calling your proposal “Proposal”! Drop the Cliche. I get bored seeing entrepreneurs send me any proposal titled “A proposal for…” Spare me pleease! There are a thousand and one creative ways to get a decision maker stuck at your proposal but the one way to get your proposal deleted is to tag it “Proposal”. Learn to pitch the value of your proposal from the word Title page for instance if you are selling a training on Risk Management to a Bank; a topic like “How XYZ Bank can effectively Manage Risk and Improve it’s Bottomline” Sounds better in selling Value than a flat “A proposal on Risk Management in Banking Training”.
- So they have this brilliant idea that will be a solution to a prospective client, or they actually have all it takes to win an RFP(Request for proposals). What should be next of course is to put their thoughts on paper, and they start to fidget and quickly they start to look out for ways to escape the task the most popular of which is what I call Proposal cloning. Working as a Content Consultant with the National bureau of statistics, I have seen a lot of cloned proposals. What you as a person, do not know is the fact that Cloned proposals (where you tend to grab an electronic copy of somebody else’s proposal, go ahead to change the client’s name to that of the new prospect and then fires it off to the organization that called for an RFP) are the very first we tend to throw out of the pack or are quick to delete out of our inbox.
- Another approach is the “Detailed garbage” approach. The author puts together a string of case studies, documentation, product slicks among others in a bid to impress the client and sends it off painting a message that says “whatever you really need out of all these, you can layback and sort it out that is your problem!” Please note, Customers don’t want bulk, they don’t want IRRELEVANT details. And they don’t want to do more work than is necessary to get your drift.
So you lay back and ask why my proposition is not attended to. Or you sit day after day in your office and expect the phone to ring at anytime with the call for a presentation then ask when they take too long, why haven’t they responded to our proposal?
Writing a contract winning proposal could prove to be a lot of work. I see people wince, at the thought of having to put together a lot of details that may even look tiresome. You need to bring your business side plus your psychological insights, your communication skills, and your creativity together in one package.
The value of your proposal is laden in the fact that it is the only means you have of communicating to the highest levels of your client’s organization. It represents your ideas, your product and services, and your company to these people. By creating a powerful tailor-made proposal, you cast a larger shadow. You may be tempted to ask, why do I need all these carefulness when I could easily clone another proposal or get a boilerplate? The gist is, you never know where it’ll end up! Will it be read by the Manager, the CEO, or by a committee of evaluators?
So if you think you are not up to it yourself, why not get another professional to help you out? Because writing a proposal is often the most truly professional thing you do.