Proposal Writing Tip: What Your Clients What to Hear

Proposal Writing Tip: What Your Clients What to Hear

The following is a guest post from Bidsketch founder Ruben Gamez. Check out his awesome proposal builder software!

When it comes to sales, attracting your audience, and building a community, words are a powerful tool. Used correctly, they can be your secret weapon. Ignored, and you’ll suffer the consequences in your sale pipeline.

This post offers you one proposal writing tip that helps you figure out what your clients want to hear. After all, the tactic is very simple.

Proposal Writing Tip: You have to talk your client’s language!

Proposal writing tip

The fact is, your client has a particular problem he (we’re just going to use the pronoun “he” so we don’t have to go back and forth with he/she!) wants to solve, which he thinks about in specific terms. And if you don’t know what this problem is, and how he thinks about it — in other words, what language to use — there’s just no way to close a deal with him.

Nothing you say will interest him!

This probably sounds obvious now I’ve said it. And yes, these kinds of tips are obvious…but they’re really HARD to figure out on your own without someone else pointing it out to you!

Here are some do’s and don’t’s of writing in the language of your client:

DO talk about the reasons behind *why* your client wants what you’re offering.

DON’T assume you know those reasons in advance. This is a killer mistake! For example, say you’re a web designer, and a car wash owner comes to you for a new site. It would be easy to talk about the enticing modern aesthetic of the redesign you’d like to offer, etc etc. But…what if they actually want a new site because clients are having trouble finding their car wash on a side-street? What if they want a mobile-friendly site with a prominent map and clear directions? What if they actually think their existing design *is* enticing and modern-looking (even if it isn’t), and you just offended them?

Now, obviously you can’t know all this in advance — but it’s DEFINITELY possible once you’ve identified them as a likely client. Because…you can just *ask* them 🙂

And this gets us to the “telepathic” secret…

Use your client’s exact words in your proposal.

I know, this feels weird — you’re afraid they’ll notice and think you’re up to something. But in fact, quoting key phrases back to them is incredibly powerful. It’s a sales technique used by some of the most persuasive people in the world, and basically it works because people are helpless against their own thoughts. Using their own words to offer them something makes the offer virtually irresistible.

[Tweet “Use your client’s own exact words when solving their problem. This makes it personal.”]

(And even if they *do* notice, they just think, “Wow, they were really listening!” And that’s also a GOOD thing.)

DO talk about the *benefits* in your proposal, your client hopes to get out of what you’re offering. For example, if you offer photography services, your client might want you to make his employees (and thus his company, and ultimately himself) look good to others.

DON’T talk about *features* in your proposal without tying them to benefits. For instance, telling your client about how you can provide HDR photos might sound impressive to you, but it’s meaningless to him — unless you explain that it makes them look more vibrant and life-like.

This illustration is a great way to show you that benefits and features are two different things. You might want to buy a bed with all of these features, but what you really want is a good night’s sleep without your back hurting in the morning!

(Note: I discovered this on the Kissmetrics blog – they are amazing!)

Here’s an example to illustrate how to use client language in proposals:

If you’re doing an initial consult with a client, you might have some questions and answers that look like this:

Q: Why are you looking to create a new company portal?

A: We’d like to improve internal communication.

Q: Ah, OK. Can you tell me about some specific problems you’re seeing due to this lack of communication?

A: Sure. Every year in our employee survey, communication is one of the biggest complaints. Employees say that we don’t listen to their concerns and suggestions on how to improve the company.

So here’s what you might write in your sales proposal:

“Every year, the employee survey shows that employees feel like management doesn’t listen to their concerns and suggestions on how to improve the company. The new company portal is going to change that perception. This portal will…”

And so on and so forth. See how easy that is? Your client wrote your proposal for you!

Speaking your client’s language is something you can do in *any* marketing material (and you should!)– but your proposals are definitely a key place to do this, and it’s very easy too.

Getting straight to the point in your proposals, and talking your client’s language can lead to surprising results. According to our research at Bidsketch, you not only get more closed deals — you can also command higher project fees.

Who doesn’t love free proposal templates? 

Bidsketch is a quick and easy tool that will help you make this strategy a consistent process. Check out the proposal creation tool at Bidsketch.com. There you can also access dozens of free proposal templates (yay!) and get a free trial to see how it can benefit your business and your sales process.

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Create professional looking client proposals in half the time. Win more projects with online proposal software, Bidsketch.

About Ruben, founder of Bidsketch

Originally a software developer, Ruben bootstrapped Bidsketch while working full time and was quickly able to grow it into a profitable business. He spent several years working for a billion dollar payroll company. There he helped build and manage a custom proposal system that was used to regularly win seven and eight figure deals.

After learning about the psychology behind closing large deals and helping friends with their client meetings, he decided to make it his mission to take away the pain from the proposal process.

Center of Influence: The one sales strategy you can’t do without

The one sales strategy you can't live without.

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People do business with people they know and trust. And chances are, you refer people that you know and trust as well. When it comes to growing your business and expanding your pipeline of potential customers, it is important to establish a healthy network of people who believe in you, believe in your value, and believe you have something valuable to offer and are willing to pass your name on.

Center of Influence: The one sales strategy you can’t do without

When I was working for a leadership development company, this was called the “Center of Influence” concept. It’s something that was originally coined (I believe) by Paul J. Meyer, one of the fathers of the personal productivity boom. You can read his whitepaper about the center of influence concept here (gotta love the font and the clip art – classic 80s!).

I saw this strategy demonstrated by a mentor over a several year period. His pipeline was always full – but he also knew the value of his service and was willing to ask for the sale. Even if you execute the COI concept well up front, you still have to ask for the leads!

While it’s not the only tool in your tool belt, having a center of influence network is a valuable strategy to keep in mind as both a marketer and sales professional.

To reap the benefits from creating a “Center of Influence” network, follow the steps below:

1. Define a Center of Influence: What does it mean?

An individual who makes a great center of influence for you is someone who:

  • Believes in what you are selling, and what you have to offer
  • Is influential with a number of people
  • Is willing to give you names
  • The names given to you are at least partially qualified prospects, more than just leads.

2. Brainstorm potential people: Who fits this description and definition?

  • Current and former clients/customers
  • Former employers/co-workers
  • Family members
  • Friends
  • Vendors
  • Networking contacts
  • Professional service providers (banker, accountant, lawyer, etc)

3. Schedule a meeting with at least 5-10 potential center of influence candidates.

  • At these meetings or during these calls — Talk with each person about your business goals, and your desire to meet with them 2-3 times a year as a center of influence.
  • *NOTE – it is important that you believe in their business as well and are willing to do the same in acting as a center of influence for them!

4. Refine your list.

  • Finalize your most valuable center of influences.
  • Make sure you have their contact info, as well as a good understanding of what they do and how you can help their business grow as well.

5. Communicate regularly.

  • Send them personal emails each month with recaps on leads, updates on your business, and ask how you can help them.

6. Nurture your network.

  • Continue to nurture your center of influence network. And keep an eye out for future relationships, knowing that a COI may not be right forever, but for a certain period of time.

7. Follow-up.

Learn the value of the F-word. Seriously. One of the clients I work with has an employee who is constantly at the top of the sales charts, and her advice points right to value of follow-up. She calls herself Sally F-U Smith. Follow-up, follow-up, and follow-up. We’re all so busy that the winner is many times the one who stays in the game (genuinely) the longest. Keep up your stamina, and reap the benefits.

Last but not least — examine and analyze your center of influence network on a yearly basis!

The Center of Influence is a sales strategy should help keep your pipeline full – and if not, you may want to reconsider your product and value proposition. If people don’t believe in you and what you’re selling, that could be a problem.

Do you have additional suggestions? Please – feel free to comment and add additional sales strategies or ideas for building your network!