Proposals and Chefs

 

Posted By Qvidian | Mar 09, 2016

 

I love food. And I mean that in the go-out-of-my-way-for-the-best-taste-ever kind of love of food.  Friends know the way to my heart – through my stomach.  And I’m talking all kinds of food – from the best taco stands eating tacos al pastor standing in the street, to the best four-napkin-burger, to discovering things that taste like nothing I've had before - and that I can’t even pronounce.  Regardless of the food, I’m always in awe of those who have the creativity, the discipline, and the drive to make it all come together for my benefit.

Believe it or not, this is strangely similar to how a great proposal is created.  There are many people involved, with specific responsibilities, and all have to come together to create something your customer will like – no love – in order to facilitate a purchase.  How does my mind relate a good proposal to a great meal?

Everyone Has a Role

Executive Chef, Sous Chef, Prep Cook, Line Cook…there are many roles in a kitchen, and all have a specific, equally important responsibility.  Prep cooks’ responsibility is to prepare the ingredients for the chef. They chop, slice and dice, weigh portions, pre-season meats - do all the work required so the chefs can then do their jobs by taking those ingredients and combining them into the desired plate the customer orders. Good chefs will tailor the plate to the customer – don’t eat red peppers?  That’s cool, substitute onion. They adapt to the customer and use the ingredients that are available to execute the plan.

Now think about your proposals.  Sales people, writers, proposal managers, subject matter experts – all have a specific, equally important role in the proposal process.  And good proposal processes are always thinking of the customer first.  This deal a little different than the last?  No problem – we can adapt and tailor the proposal to meet their needs.  The ingredients used are the content assets needed to assemble the final plate, er proposal.  So maintaining an up to date and accurate content library for these assets makes sure you’re using fresh ingredients so your proposal isn’t spoiled.


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It's for the Customer, Not You

Ever go to a restaurant and ask for a steak medium-rare, and the server says, “Sorry, we only cook to medium-well or well done.”  Huh?  What do you mean I can’t get it the way I want it? Who are you to tell me how I like my steak?  Good restaurants have eliminated this and will serve it how the customer wants, regardless of if the chef prefers it another way.

Your sales proposal needs to adapt the same way. If you understand their needs and desired outcomes, you can tailor the proposal accordingly. Otherwise, you’re trying to serve them someone else’s interpretation of what’s good.

Passion and Creativity Shows

As part of my food obsession, I’m also obsessed with Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen.  While a little dramatic, watching how a team works in the kitchen under his direction is fascinating to me. One of my favorite lines of his is, “You’ve given up! You just don’t care!” when he sees a plate that is below his standard.

This is true in your sales proposal too.  If you copy and paste from the last deal, it’s going to sound like it was written for someone else (um, it was). Your buyer is going to read it and think, “They just don’t care.” And just like someone’s passion for cooking shows on the plate, the passion for your customer’s success will show through in the proposal.

So next time you’re working on that arduous RFP response, or having to turn around a sales proposal in a crazy-short amount of time, don’t forget to think about what you’re serving your buyers and ensure your food - er, proposal - obsession shows.