With the wealth of information available about all of the advances being made in marketing, it always surprises me how little is written about best practices when it comes to creating winning B2B proposals.
Here’s what you need to do:
Step 1: Information gathering. This may be through various sources – speaking with contacts, site visits, document review. Some of the questions to try to answer include:
– Why are they going to proposal?
– What are they looking for? – Who did they invite? – Who are the decision makers?
– Are there any objections/conflicts you need to address?
Step 2: Go-No go decision. Is this a proposal that you actually want to take on? First and foremost it’s worth remembering that B2B proposals involve a lot of work so you want to try to determine whether you realistically have a chance of winning before spending the effort. Your Go-No go analysis should take into account:
– Economic benefits – determine not only the immediate value of the proposal but whether it might represent additional profits through improved reputation, annuity work, etc.
– Reputational risks
– Legal risks
Step 3: Decide who should be on the team.
Step 4: Create a proposal strategy. Be sure your key messages enforce your unique differentiators and raise questions about your competitors. And show, don’t tell. Prospects want real examples, they don’t and shouldn’t just take your word for any claims you’re making.
Step 5: Practice, practice, practice. The best presentations are a dialogue with the customer. In B2B it’s all about engagement and how you connect with the prospect.
Step 6: Debrief. Win or lose, it’s critical to learn and improve. It’s usually best to hire an external person to do this to depersonalize the situation and arrive at honest, direct answers.