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Customer Centric Proposal Writing


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This presentation will provoke creative thoughts to create & submit the right business proposals.

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Customer Centric Proposal Writing

  1. 1. 1 Tremendously improve your business acquisition through Customer Centric Proposal Writing SPIN, Chennai Talk on 4 May, 2013
  2. 2. About the Speaker •  More than 20 years experience in Quality Management and Process Improvement. •  Process improvement consultant, who helps clients in countries like India, USA, Japan, China, Taiwan, Brazil, Australia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Philippines, etc. •  Earlier jobs include Vice President of Corporate Quality at HCL Technologies and Manager, Quality at Oracle India. •  Visiting faculty to many Universities and Business Schools including Anna University, Chennai & Great Lakes Institute of Management, Chennai. 2 Raja M. Rajamanickam Managing Partner, ProXL Consulting, Chennai – 600 101 •  Defined end to end sales process, including the Proposal Preparation Process, in the earlier corporate role. •  Prepared / reviewed more than 200 proposals covering all major verticals and clients in all 5 continents •  Lean Six Sigma Corporate Champion, Certified Scrum Master, Certified CMMI Lead Appraiser, Trained Management Consultant and a passionate trainer. •  Holds ME (Industrial Engineering) from PSG College of Technology and Exec. MBA from Great Lakes Institute of Management.
  3. 3. Agenda   Why do Customers need Proposal?   & Why shall we prepare proposal?   Major Challenges of Proposal Preparation   Seven Golden Rules of Proposal Preparation   First Three Rules in detail… 3
  4. 4. 4 Gather and clarify complex information On the possible solution to their problem Compare offers from various vendors To make decision makers job easy Get the maximum value for their money To make sure they are not exploited To provide the customer with right information • To persuade them to give the order Prove your capabilities on the required solution • To make decision makers job easy! To close new business & customers • To remain competitive & grow To Slow down the aggressive sales people Some times! To become responsive sales people Always! Why do Customers need Proposals? Why do we prepare Proposals? or, Why should we?
  5. 5. Major Challenges •  Close business by “putting it in writing” •  Your audience may know nothing about you •  Sell a complex product or service to non-technical buyers •  Most decision makers are extremely busy: – they are already bombarded by lots of messages •  Complete the proposal that has to be submitted yesterday! •  Effort involved - Lots of mid night oils! •  Work from a “virtual office,” or the road 5
  6. 6. 6 The Final Challenge: And the results usually reflect that fact! Most people HATE proposal writing
  7. 7. 7 The “Seven Deadly Sins” of Proposal Writing *   Failure to focus on the client’s business problems and payoffs – contents sounds generic   No persuasive structure – The proposal is an information dump   No clear differentiation compared to others   Failure to offer a compelling customer value proposition   Key points are buried—no impact, no highlighting   Difficult to read because they’re full of jargons, too long, or too technical   Credibility killers--misspellings, grammar and punctuation errors, wrong customer name, inconsistent formats, etc. * “Persuasive Business Proposals” by Tom Sant SevenDeadlySins
  8. 8. 8 The Business Impact  Longer sales cycles  Low sales force productivity  Loss of credibility with customers  Lost business  Failure to penetrate new accounts and new markets  Wasted effort  Low morale
  9. 9. 7 9 SEVEN GOLDEN RULES: How to consistently write Winning Proposals?
  10. 10. 10 Seven Golden Rules 1. Your proposal shall love your customer; not you! 2. A Proposal must sell; not just tell 3. KISS your proposal; big is not better 4. You lose on communication; not on price 5. Investigate more; write less 6. Repeat your success; don’t be happy with just one 7. Check your health; often
  11. 11. 1 11 Rule # 1 : Your proposal shall love your customer; not you!
  12. 12. 12 Unfortunately, Most Proposals Create a Wrong Impression “It’s all about us.”
  13. 13. 13 Broadcast on WII-FM What’s In It For Me? People are most interested in their own issues and their own business They trust people who understand those issues and put them first Customers buy benefits, not features…
  14. 14. 14
  15. 15. 4Ps of Marketing is dead ! Product Place Price Promotion Solution Accessibility Value Education 15
  16. 16. 16 What Does This Mean For Your Proposals? •  Focuses on client’s needs •  Presents solutions to business problems •  Looks toward long-term relationships •  Partnership orientation •  Analyzes payback, ROI, impact on business •  Integrates value-added offerings into strategy •  Focuses on products, technology, etc. •  Presents information in reaction to a request •  Short-term focus •  Vendor/buyer orientation •  Builds on profit margin •  No controlling strategy--line- item selling
  17. 17. 17 Seven Questions * to Help You Create a Client-Centered Proposal •  What is the client’s problem or need? •  Why is this problem a problem? •  What goals must be addressed? •  Which goals have the highest priority? •  What solutions (products/applications/services) can we offer? •  What outcomes/results will each solution produce? •  Which solution is best? Customers (may!) mention what is needed, but not why they are needed… * “Persuasive Business Proposals” by Tom Sant
  18. 18. 2 18 Rule # 2 : A Proposal must sell; not just tell
  19. 19. Diamond Rule of Proposal Proposal is NOT a technical document Proposal is a sales document 19
  20. 20. What Does This Mean For Your Proposals? You are NOT writing to Inform But you are writing to Persuade 20 ‘Sell the sizzle not the steak’ - Elmer Wheeler
  21. 21. Your Proposal must be written to support decision-oriented thinking 21
  22. 22. 22 How do People Make Decisions? •  The Assumption: •  Rational •  Logical •  Systematically weighs all the evidence •  The Reality: •  Fast and frugal •  Intuitive, personal, based on impressions •  Uses the least amount of evidence possible •  Seemingly impulsive
  23. 23. 23 What Does This Mean For Your Proposals? •  IT’S NOT ENOUGH to give the customer a company overview or history •  IT’S NOT ENOUGH to give the customer just a technical spec •  IT’S NOT ENOUGH to give the customer just a price quote
  24. 24. 24 Find out what Your Customer Worries About •  Keeping costs to a minimum •  Providing on-time delivery, providing good customer service •  Competing effectively against national and global competitors •  Minimizing overhead and staffing needs •  Generating profit
  25. 25. 25 So, how to create Decision Oriented Message?
  26. 26. What do you see in common? 26
  27. 27. What do you see in common? 27
  28. 28. 28 The Four Essentials of Winning Proposals - The Persuasive Paradigm •  Needs: Demonstrate the understanding of the client’s key business needs or issues •  Outcomes: Identify meaningful outcomes from meeting those needs •  Solution: Recommend a specific solution •  Evidence: Convince the client that you’re competent to deliver - A compelling reason to choose your recommendation over any others Hitting it on the N-O-S-E ! (Options: Provide some options (atleast two)) (Long NOSE !!!)
  29. 29. 29 Why Are These Factors Critical? Because evaluators look at proposals in terms of: •  Responsiveness: Am I getting what I need? Or merely what they have? •  Competence: Can they really do it? Can they live up to their promises? •  Value: Does this offer return a high enough value to the organization to justify moving forward? People buy from people they TRUST
  30. 30. Check your failed proposals This could be the reason… 30
  31. 31. 3 31 Rule # 3 : KISS your proposal; big is not better
  32. 32. 32 “If you wish to persuade me, you must think my thoughts, feel my feelings, and speak my words.” --Cicero The Cicero Principle
  33. 33. 33 •  Audience Level (Speak my words) •  Audience Type (Think my thoughts) •  Audience Role (Feel my feelings) •  Expert •  Highly informed •  Acquainted •  Uninformed •  Analytical •  Pragmatic •  Consensus-seeker •  Visionary •  Decision Maker •  User •  Gatekeeper Cicero’s Three Points
  34. 34. 34 Writing to the audience Key tips: •  Provide content specific to the market •  Aim for the right level of expertise •  Avoid business jargons •  Prioritize your points in the order of importance to the audience •  KISS--keep it short and simple
  35. 35. 35 Which One Would You Read First? Proposal Proposal For Jasmin Infotech Your first ten words are more important than the next ten thousand words - Elmer Wheeler
  36. 36. 36 Effective Case Studies Tips: •  Keep them short •  Use the PAR format: • Problem •  Business problems, not software requirements • Action •  Focus on your unique delivery process • Results •  Quantify results if possible •  Use a quote from the key decision maker
  37. 37. 37 Present the Impact Graphically Graphics and Color increase persuasiveness by 47%! Videos are even better
  38. 38. Proposal FAQs 38 •  What is the ideal length of a proposal? •  Isn’t it bigger the proposal, better? •  Is it better to submit the proposal earlier than the deadline? •  to show our efficiency/effectiveness/interest/quick response •  Why don’t we start our discussion with our company background? •  After all the proposal is for informing about our company •  How to organise the proposal writing team? •  Full Time or Part Time (shared responsibility) •  Internal or External? •  What font is better? •  What format is better? Word or PowerPoint or PDF?
  39. 39. Proposal FAQs… 39 •  Do we need to respond to all proposals that come in our way? •  How to decide, if not? •  How to identify ‘our’ CustomerValue Proposition? •  for this proposal? •  How muchValue is enough? •  Is it different in different scenario? •  What is the right structure of proposal? •  Shall I use a standard template? •  What shall be the structure of Executive Summary? •  How long shall that be? •  Where shall we spend more time? •  Shuttling for information or structuring the information?
  40. 40. Contact Us For all your proposal solutions… Raja M. Rajamanickam Managing Partner ProXL Consulting Chennai – 600 101  Training  Consulting  Handholding  Proposal Reviews