Today’s post is by Stu Heinecke, the best-selling author of How to Get a Meeting with Anyone and host of Contact Marketing Radio. He is also the co-creator of NASP’s “The Power of Contact Marketing” training program, a Wall Street Journal cartoonist, hall of fame-nominated marketer, and founder of Contact, a first-of-its-kind contact marketing agency dedicated to helping sales teams connect with their most important prospects and assigned accounts.
Clearly, I don’t know enough about making proposals.
I mean, I do a good job producing a readable document that can be easily shared, covers all bases, and makes a visually appealing presentation of what I want to do for a client. And they do result in business.
Still, I know I should be including an e-signature feature from DocuSign or Adobe in my PDF proposal documents. I know it makes it easier for the client to accept the terms of the proposal – and data seem to indicate that e-signatures greatly speed that acceptance. I know I should be doing it, but haven’t gotten around to it yet. Sound familiar?
Then I recently listened to a year-end episode of Barb Giamanco’s Razor’s Edge podcast (listen in at 14:49). The compilation includes snippets of her interviews with Anthony Iannarino, Mark Hunter, me, and James Muir, author of The Perfect Close. As I listened to Barb and James discuss their best practices for proposals, I realized there are simple changes that would allow me to create a far greater level of connection through my own proposals.
Barb makes the point that the way the proposal is presented makes a big difference in the outcome. She never sends a proposal without scheduling a meeting to go over the whole document. Even then, the proposal doesn’t go out until just a few minutes before the call.
James presents his first-version proposals as a scope document – and, again, doesn’t send it until a few minutes before the meeting. He walks the client through the whole document. He purposely makes the scale of the proposed action larger than the clients expect or want, leaving room to scale back to what he actually wants to sell and what the client actually wants to buy.
Presenting your proposal live creates several advantages over the method of sending it, waiting for a reply, and endlessly following up – a method that may or may not result in a sale.
But no one does a proposal quite like Curtis Brooks. I interviewed Curtis on my Contact Marketing Radio show, to learn how he uses proposals as contact devices to gain access to Fortune 1000 C-suite executives.
His proposals are always unsolicited – never the result of previous meetings – and always audacious in their scope. The documents follow a seven-page format, always produced in PDF and printed form – the former delivered in an email, the latter by mail. They’re carefully researched to reflect a direction the company needs to take to realize a strategic goal, and produced as quick-read, graphic-intensive storyboards.
Executives usually respond by initiating meetings, saying, “I like the way you’re thinking, but we should meet to adjust some of your assumptions.” And bingo – the proposal has done its job.
Listen to my interview below and think about what you can do to improve the outcomes of your proposals.