Messages that Matter: Question 5—What products or services can we offer?


Posted By Dr. Tom Sant | Nov 08, 2012


7 Key Questions to Answer When Writing a "Killer" Sales Proposal

We have been reviewing the seven key questions that you must be able to answer to write a winning proposal:

  1. What is the client’s problem or need?
  2. Why is this problem worth solving?
  3. What results does the customer seek?
  4. Which specific result is the most important?
  5. What products or services can we offer that will solve the problem and deliver the right results?
  6. Of the solutions I can offer, which one is the best fit for this client?
  7. Why are we the right choice?

Question no. 5 is often the easiest of the seven to answer, because it gets right to the heart of what we know and love the most—our own stuff.

What products or services can we offer?

Usually there are several ways to solve a problem or meet a need. It's important for us to take the time to brainstorm. Look at all of the approaches and all of the combinations of products and services with an open mind. You are addressing the seven questions early in the proposal writing process, ideally at the kick off meeting, so there is no reason not to consider anything and everything.

For example, suppose you have a client who wants to prepare mid-level managers to assume greater leadership roles. Currently they have to recruit a majority of senior leaders from outside the company because their own mid-tier of management does not seem ready to take on bigger roles. What can you do for them? Well, you might be able to meet the client's needs by offering two-day workshops at the client’s sites around the country, training all of the mid-level managers on the skills and knowledge they need to move up. Or you might be able to do it via a series of Webinars delivered live and then archived for future reference. Or you might propose developing a computer-based training experience that can be downloaded and reused throughout the organization. Maybe you can just give the candidates a book to read, followed by a test.

You get the point. There are lots of possibilities here. And when you start thinking about combining some of them, the range of solutions becomes even richer.

The more creative you can be in combining what you know about the client’s needs and goals with what you have to offer, the more likely you are to separate yourself from the pack and develop a truly client-centered solution.

One word of warning, however. Do not throw things into the solution that you propose to the client that are not relevant to the client's needs. Sometimes you hear managers say, "Be sure to include material on our diversity training program along with the management leadership stuff."

Why? They didn't ask for diversity training. They have not identified it as one of their objectives.

"Yeah, but they need to know we offer it. It's important that they know we have that capability."

Really? Important to whom? When you throw things into the solution mix that are totally irrelevant, your proposal will inevitably sound self-serving. The proposal is not the right time to up-sell or cross-sell. Stay focused on the answers to questions 1 through 4 and you can avoid making the mistake of recommending irrelevant products and services.

One of the challenges faced by the sales professionals and proposal writers in large organizations is knowing what's available. That's where sales enablement and proposal automation tools become invaluable. Rather than expecting everyone to have an encyclopedic command of every possible solution your firm offers, you instead can give them access to the information they need, organized based on logical search terms. Give us a call, and we can demonstrate how the Qvidian products can help everyone on your team do a more complete job of selling what your customer needs.

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