There’s a trick to creating business proposals that grow your business. And it involves an additional pair of skills that may be new to you. It also requires a good amount of sleuthing.
ARE YOU PROPOSAL HUNTING?
In case you’re confused, I’m not asking if you’re trying to get somebody to go on one knee.
Rather, I’m wondering if you’re constantly looking for the next opportunity to get a business proposal in front of somebody.
It’s a common problem.
And I know this because I’ve been there.
At one point, my event business was counting 12 staff over 2 different locations. It felt like this massive hungry beast that was always demanding the next feed.
I was very good at organising events. But sales and marketing weren’t exactly my forte.
That’s when I hired a salesperson.
Several years later… I know why!
We’re Technicians NOT Sales Gurus
As I said, I’m not alone in this.
Accountants, web designers, social media managers; we all have this thing in common: we’re technicians.
We started our business because we’re rather good at something.
And that thing isn’t sales.
But as your business continues to grow, we can’t avoid having to look beyond the word of mouth at some stage.
4 Areas You Need To Nail To Create Business Proposals That Grow Your Business
Once you hit that mark, the options for your future path are very simple:
- You choose not to go down the stepped-up sales game road. You keep your business the same as it has been: you serve people you know and pursue the referrals you get. Nothing wrong with that!
- If growing your business is a desire for your journey ahead, you will need to step up the sales game. And that, of course, starts with creating business proposals that grow your business. Rather than continuously hunting for opportunities to submit a proposal and then hope for the best, we need to start looking for winning business proposals. Quality over quantity.
But how to write a business proposal that wins more clients?
In a few words, you need to…
- get clear on your market.
- understand the problem those people have.
- somehow capture the desired outcome they're looking for.
- create the exact solution to help them.
Which I’m guessing is sounding very BLAH, BLAH, BLAH!
Maybe you’ve heard it all before, BUT WHAT DOES IT MEAN!?
So let’s unpack this baby.
Business Proposals That Grow Your Business - Area 1: Your Market
What market needs the service you are offering?
Are you a website designer serving accountants, or health professional, or are you working for not for the profit sector? Are you limiting your services to a specific area? A specific age group? A specific demographic?
Before you even get started on figuring out how nailing business proposals grows your business, you need to narrow down your market.
As for the qualities you’re looking for, your market needs to…
- Be in need of the services you are offering
- Have the finances to purchase your services
- Be easy to target
- Be a growing (like app developers) or established market (like accountants)
The key is to narrow down your market - the mistake most service providers do is choose a market that is too broad.
This was my very own mistake. I used to call myself a multi-disciplined agency. Now I am a professional conference organiser doing business events only for the association and the government market.
Business Proposals That Grow Your Business - Area 2: The Problem or Challenge
What’s the problem or the challenge your market has?
Once you've chosen your market, it all becomes about the problem and the solution your ideal client has.
You have to understand the pain points!
BUT HERE’S THE CATCH!
Sometimes the symptoms appear just surface-level, BUT you want to identify the real problem!
This requires you to do some sleuthing. You need to dive deep into the layers of the problem your prospect has.
I probe for this during the first conversation I have with my potential clients before I start working on my winning business proposal.
I ask some very targeted questions. For me, these are:
- Do they lack capacity?
- Is their challenge technology?
- Is their challenge knowledge?
Business Proposals That Grow Your Business - Area 3: The Desired Outcome
What does success look like?
Once you have identified the REAL problem, you want to translate this into the outcome they have in mind. This is the third area you need to nail to create a winning business proposal.
DON’T JUST ASSUME YOUR PROSPECT EVEN KNOWS WHAT THE REAL PROBLEM IS.
I picture it like this:
When your prospect contacts you, they find themselves on Problem Island. Your business is the vehicle that will bring them to Desire Island.
The question you want to answer is: What does Desire Island look like?
My favourite questions to find out are:
- What does success look like to you?
- Where do you want to end up?
- One week after the event, how do you want to feel?
- What are you most proud of?
With that knowledge, we’re ready to tackle the home-run in creating an incredible business proposal.
Business Proposals That Grow Your Business - Area 4: The Solution
What is the missing piece between their current reality (the problem) and their desired outcome?
In other words, what kind of help do they want to see in your winning business proposal ?
This probably falls into a few categories
- They may not know how to achieve their desired outcome. Call it a lack of expertise.
- They may not have the time it will take them to achieve their desired outcome. (In order to take them from Problem island to Desire island, they already have a canoe, but you have a helicopter.)
- It may be in the too hard basket and they need to reduce the effort and sacrifice it's going to take them to achieve their desired outcome.
THIS IS WHAT I DIDN'T UNDERSTAND FOR SO LONG IN MY BUSINESS.
The Importance Of Value Proposition In Your Proposal
See, for years and years, I had no idea what the real pain points of my ideal client were. I always knew what Desire Island looked like. I knew what my prospect’s ideal outcome was, because I always understood what we were trying to deliver.
But- AND HERE’S SOMETHING IMPORTANT - I always developed the solution around the punch list my clients would give me. I would create a solution around the list of things they told me they wanted me to do.
I thought I was creating a winning business proposal, offering exactly what they asked for.
AND STILL THEY DIDN’T CHOOSE ME!
I knew I was good at what I did.
But it was like my business was the best kept secret in town!
THE PROBLEM: I WAS CREATING THE PROPOSAL FROM MY TECHNICIAN MINDSET.
As soon as I shifted that approach, everything became so much easier.
The Long And The Short
I’m not going to lie: figuring out how to write business proposals that grow your business is not a 2 minute job - it takes time.
You need to take time to assess, test and refine; assess, test and refine.
But once you have clarity on your market (your narrow market), your prospect’s problem, their desired outcome and how you can help them go from Problem Island to Desire Island , it changes everything.
Go beyond what appears like the superficial symptoms and peel back the layers to the real problem. Make sure you show you understand the pain point and how you are going to handle that, rather than giving an answer to the list they provided.
When you know this about your client, they feel seen, heard and understood.
And THAT, I discovered… is the different between winning and losing proposals.
Do You Need Help?
I hope this episode can help your business ahead and improve your proposals.
If this is new to you, go back to the start of the blog (or podcast), get a piece of paper and
go through it again.
But also…get your hands on MY FREE IRRESISTIBLE PROPOSAL BLUEPRINT to give you the focus you need to create business proposals that grow your business.