"10 steps for a successful proposal"

Pitching and quoting training

Competition in the market is increasing and in more and more cases you have to submit a quote to win a new assignment. However, offering is time-consuming and a thorough approach is often lacking. A lot of time is lost in determining the strategy and collecting the necessary information. And the success rate is often low.

With this step-by-step plan you significantly increase the chance of success.

Assess the request for quote

First check carefully what the real question of the customer is. Often there is a 'question behind the question'. You should identify any ambiguities or questions as early as possible and remove them together with the customer.

2 Qualify the quote request

Determine if you are going to make an offer. Important criteria are:

  1. Do we know the customer?
  2. Were we involved in this question before the request for quotation?
  3. Can we make a distinctive offer that matches our services?

All these criteria determine how big your chances of winning are and help you decide whether or not to submit a quote. In order to limit risks, it is also important for large quotations to have the customer's delivery conditions assessed by a lawyer, so that they can be discussed with the customer at an early stage.

3 Assemble a quote team

If you have decided to participate, build a quote team based on the complexity of the quote. Determine who fulfills the following roles: quotation leader, writer, content managers, designer and independent reader. Of course, one person can take on a number of roles, but by involving several people, you generally get a better offer.

Keep a kick off

Hold a kick-off session to discuss the request for quotation. The quotation leader ensures that the information about the customer, sector and the various parties involved becomes transparent. In this session you will also discuss the customer's buyer network to understand the influence of the different stakeholders in the purchasing process. The quotation leader makes a schedule based on the outcome.

Make appointments with the buyer network

After the kick-off session, try to make face-to-face agreements with the customer to better understand the questions and wishes and to get any questions answered. You can also use this opportunity to build or strengthen your relationship with the customer. Prepare these agreements well with the right questions and an agenda that you send in advance in combination with other materials that strengthen your position. After each interview you make a short conversation report and share it with the quotation team. Wherever possible, go to the conversation with two people so that all signals from the client are properly received.

Define the storyline

The quote leader and writer create a storyline for the quote. This is the coat rack and often the format of your quote. Only when the storyline and all elements have been determined do you start writing. Make sure you know the question behind the question, and how your team can contribute to solving the customer's problem with a distinctive offer. Also determine what advantages and disadvantages the proposed solution has for the customer. Determine per person in the buyer network what influence he or she has on the decision and how the solution fits with his or her business and personal agenda.

There are three types of buyers: economic buyers, users and technical buyers. These roles are present in one or more persons in every buying process. Only the economic buyer decides, the rest has influence. Also, having a coach in the buying process is an excellent way to increase your chances of winning.

7 Make a distinctive offer

Determine a distinctive offer (value proposition) based on customer needs and the wishes of the various buyers. The crucial question here is: how does the offer help to solve every buyer's problem, how much effort do they have to make and what extra do they get what they don't have yet? You can only make a distinctive offer if the demand (needs and wishes) of the customer's buyer network is clear. Also look at your position in relation to your competitor and what makes you unique, and what is most relevant to the customer. Make it as easy and attractive as possible for the customer to buy your unique offer.


Determine the pricing strategy

Each offer has an appropriate price. Think carefully about what price means to the customer and provide a unique offer that not only compares the customer with competitors on price. You do this by a unique proposal, the price of which you link to (conditions) in the offer. Create a number of options for the customer to choose from, identify the best alternative the customer can choose and make it as attractive as possible. It is often good to mention these options in your quotation so that the customer can choose for himself. Show clearly how your price is structured. If you give a discount, explain why and under what conditions. You cannot win on prize, but you can lose!

Write the quote

Then write the quote in correct and understandable language, without jargon. Use the language the customer uses in conversations as much as possible and refer to this as well. Use active verbs and avoid business, distant language. Always have the draft quotation 'read' from someone who was not yet involved in the quotation. This reader should be critical and ask questions by getting into the customer's skin. You adjust the quotation based on his comments. Don't forget to have it checked for language and typos.

10 Offer the quote

Make sure you submit the quote in time, preferably first. If possible, do this personally by making an appointment. Since few do this, it shows that you care about the customer and gives you the opportunity to work extra on the relationship. In addition, it shows how much you want to get started with the assignment and you can give a brief explanation. If that does not work, make sure that everything is correct and that you make it easy for the customer.

If there are any presentations after the quotation, prepare them well. Always call the customer afterwards to ask whether the quotation has been received in good order, if you have not been able to offer it in person.

Do you want to learn more?

Do you have questions or do you want help from an expert in the field of quotation and pitching? Please contact Geert van der Lande (e-mail: geert@4future.com, phone: 06 5266 0586).

Or sign up for the training 'Pitching and quotation with results". In this training you will not only learn how to make successful quotes, but you will also immediately get to work in practice. Due to the interactive and small-scale approach, there is plenty of attention for your specific learning objectives and situation.

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