Business proposals are likely the last place you’d think of getting personal.
When was the last time in a B2B proposal you wrote “hey, you look really good in purple”? Of course proposals are not the place for that kind of personal comment.
However, substitute “you look really good effectively managing FIVE times your current headcount” for “in purple” and you’ve got the foundation for a potentially winning proposal. Obviously you’ll need more to that story but it’s a start.
But typically salespeople don’t. We fall back on a laundry list of logical arguments to hopefully sway customers into selecting our proposal. And while logic is needed, it’s not what consistently wins deals.
Customers Don’t Always Select 610% ROI with 3-month Payback
If you’ve been selling B2B for more than 10 minutes, you’ve come to realize that ROI alone isn’t compelling enough for customers to buy your offering and make a change. Logical arguments for dollars saved, time gained, and/or efforts multiplied aren’t enough to overcome the unspoken emotional tides that pull buyers in sometimes unexpected directions – like selecting a darkhorse from out of nowhere.
Customers buy on emotion and justify with facts: it takes both.
This is such an old sales’ statement that it’s often overlooked in the rush to find the next new silver bullet. I’ve added the “it takes both” because what successful salesperson would only use “emotion” to try and manipulate customers? That just doesn’t work anymore for customers with average IQs and/or smartphones.
Logic and facts are needed for a persuasive business case, but winning sales proposals need more.
Make it Personal, Speak to Their Intuitive Self
Research has shown that large complex sales benefit when selling to the intuitive, emotional side of buyers. That includes writing B2B sales proposals.
And that’s easy, once you have the sales intel but first you have to get it. So go get intel about the B2B opportunity, company performance, industry trends, and departmental status. As importantly, seek out intel about the decision makers themselves. Find out:
- Where are they in their careers (near retirement, just starting out, starting over, etc.)
- What are their ambitions (climbing up the ladder, holding on, keeping their head down, etc.)
- Where are their alliances / allegiances (execs they’re close to, influence of their mentors, alone in the crowd, etc.)
- And any other insights that point you toward understanding their motivation
Weave Individual Benefits into a Successful Business Case
With the intel about the individual decision makers, you can include their specific wants and needs into your proposal solution.
For example, one of your key decision makers is the 30-something Director protegee of the SVP. And this Director just happens to be ardently committed to championing the SVP’s new strategic initiative on robotics.
Your solution would be well served by showing how your offer supports and promotes the success of robotics in their workplace. How it will instill confidence in the robotics program to their peers, have a halo effect of cool compared to other departments, and make it exciting to come to work each day.
These benefits address more than the business justification and spell out the personal and experiential benefits for that key decision maker.
Even though you may at first feel you’re pandering to them personally, their work life will be impacted by their purchase decision. Why not help them succeed? After all:
- Which customer doesn’t want to look good in front of their boss?
- Which customer doesn’t want to save their company money, or improve its productivity?
- Which customer doesn’t want to do their job better, faster, cheaper?
At The End Of The Day
B2B sales proposals are written to deliver customer success at the company, departmental, and personal level. Your customers, as individuals, work for a living along with their peers. Their personal success and satisfaction at work is as much a reason for them to select your proposal as it is to help their company succeed.
So, when the time comes to write your proposal, get the sales intel, include facts and logic, and then make it personal. Don’t chicken out.
This article, “Proposals are Personal: Don’t Chicken Out” was originally published in LinkedIn.