The upside for unsolicited proposals can be big – if used in the right situation. However, don’t forget the downsides, revisit Part 1 – The Downside if necessary and remember that unsolicited proposals can do more harm than good when seeking new customers.
And there is the key to the upside – it’s not new customers but existing customers where unsolicited proposals are gold. In sales parlance unsolicited proposals could be called “cross-selling” or “up-selling” (though up-selling in today’s economy is rare).
So here’s a look at the powerful upsides of unsolicited proposals to existing customers. Of course you know there are no guarantees but if you don’t try you are guaranteed getting what’s coming to you, like it or not.
Sidestep Rebids & Renew Contracts Ahead of Termination Dates
This is the best use of unsolicited proposals – to proactively avoid the inevitable rebid of your large customers’ contracts.
Your primary goal is to resign a new agreement, hopefully with a longer term. If that’s not available, your goal is to gain multiple-year extensions to your current contracts.
If your customer is hurting financially (and who isn’t) you can proactively re-scope and re-engineer your service to lower costs – not your margins. Re-engineering often adds nominal points to your bottom line.
And who better to know what can and can’t, or shouldn’t be redesigned than you, the incumbent supplier?
Here’s Why Your Customers Want It
Customers want to avoid a rebid process too, but only if they value what you and your firm does for them. If that’s the case, this is why they’ll want your unsolicited proposals:
- Avoids transition pains if they change suppliers & go through the learning curve again
- Saves them time & prevents distractions from the rebid process – they have better things to do
- Keeps their favorite supplier (you)
- Gives them proactive cost savings, which they can: a) use to cover a budget shortfall in another area b) present to their boss & get the kudos
- They’ll get the opportunity to recalibrate their internal customers’ expectations based on the new scope (IMPORTANT NOTE: you’ll definitely want to help your contact get out this communication. You’ll be the one taking the heat for a change in service levels if your contact hasn’t notified their internal customers).
Expand Your Services to New Locations
More than retaining flagship contracts, unsolicited proposals enable you to pick up new sales with your existing customers. Consider doing the following:
- Ask your contact for the inside story of who, what and why things are at their other locations (the where).
- Ask them to make an introduction (real or virtual) to their counterpart, along with a testimonial about how great your service is.
- With that data and intro begin the discovery phase of how you can help those new locations fix their problems and make their improvements.
Here’s Why Your Customers Want It
- It extends their prestige within their company by recommending a great supplier (you)
- It’ll be a good fit as you’re already familiar with their company culture
- They’ll have a bigger hammer in negotiations with you (Procurement likes this)
- It’ll reduce their number of suppliers as you’re already in their system (A/P likes this)
Expand Your Services @ Current Location
You’re likely already doing this (cross-selling), but if not, complete your due diligence on providing additional services to your existing customers. Then submit an unsolicited proposal, don’t wait for them to ask.