Recently I had a conversation with a manager where she was expressing concern about the language she was seeing in their proposals. In reading them over, the words were crisp and highly descriptive. The problem was, the language and terms were those they use in their own internal discussions—their industry jargon. This is a problem.
Don’t get me wrong here. I am sure your company has invested millions of dollars and countless hours to develop products you are very proud of. But, you see, that is the problem. We are marinated in the attributes of our product and all the details that make it such a superior solution. We are then basted in research showing the weaknesses in competitive products, and when all this is compiled, we have little more than a persuasive brochure. Too bad, because product knowledge is available everywhere—including your own website. If all prospects need is knowledge about your products and your competitors, they certainly don’t need a salesperson in the mix.
In 23 years of sales consulting, I have heard managers and salespeople refer to the “training” their company provides. When you peel back the layers, the vast majority is product training. Is it any wonder proposals are bloated with product information as they are garnered from shared drives with thousands of PowerPoint slides, making proposal assembly quick, painless and hopelessly product focused.
If you going to provide on-air promotional announcements, for example, what role do they play in the overall plan? How that does solve a problem in the client’s business or help them capitalize on an unrealized opportunity in the marketplace? Do you even know what they are trying to accomplish?
Your proposals should tell a story on what you have learned about this unique prospect in all your research and your conversations. The proposal should go on to explain the concept or idea(s) you are presenting to address high-level needs and opportunities. Further, it should explain how each of the components you are proposing fits together as a solution. Otherwise, they could have gotten your product information from the site.
The manager I met with told me the prospect they were speaking to said, “I liked your proposal but I couldn’t see how your plan helped me address the objective I had in mind.” They went with the other guys.