As B2B purchasing gets more professional, most professionals can expect to be writing more formal quotations. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, we live in the age of consensus decision-making, which means that your buyer will probably need to present your proposal to fellow-managers or colleagues, in order to secure a consensus to go-ahead with you.
Not surprisingly, I spend more and more of my time working with clients on their proposal-writing and the steps that lead up to this point. A real value-centred proposal is very compelling to buyers: particularly those higher up on the food chain…. as long as it passes the following six tests:
1) It is primarily about the client and their world, not just about you. Hint: make the first page entirely about them and don’t even mention your company until Page 2.
2) It clarifies the objectives of the work you are doing together, including the tangible and intangible benefits that the customer gets. Hint: use numbers and estimated value that you have calculated together with the customer.
3) It outlines some of the complications to be overcome and risks to be avoided, as discussed with your customer. Even if your quotation ends up more expensive than that of the competition, this is the section that illustrates the cost of under-investment. It also builds your credibility.
4) In the light of the above, you advocate for the right choice of approach, not just choice of you as a supplier. If you keep this distinction in mind, you will write a more thought-provoking document and not just an advertorial for your company. Ideally, this choice of approach includes the “reframe of requirements” you have achieved during your discussions.
5) It emphases what the client needs to do, in order for the project to be successful. Paradoxically perhaps, this adds to your credibility.
6) It highlights any impending time-imperatives — such as regulation changes or hardware out-of-warranty dates — that the client needs to be aware of.
Do we always get to meet these conditions? Of course not. The six tests above define the ideal value-centred quotation and you can still produce a worthy document without fulfilling all conditions. However, the closer you can get, the more likely you are to win the business.
In my next free webinar, I’ll be going over the process above in more detail using real proposals. Join me on Thurs, May 17th at 12PM GMT. We’ll review:
Key headings of a value-centred quote
How to talk through numbers with your customer
Crucial questions to ask the customer before quoting
Pitfalls to avoid
How to check you are doing the quote with the right person