It wasn’t until the early 1990s that I began the part of my career that involved complex proposal writing. Let me set the stage: Most of our requests for proposal came in by fax machine or by snail mail or courier.
We also banged sticks together to communicate. We scratched symbols on stone tablets. Our projectors were powered by oil lamps. You get it.
Back to proposals.
Did any of you have that teacher who gave trick tests? You know the ones with detailed twenty-item instructions with the final step that read: “Ignore the previous steps and use the rest of the period to finish your reading assignment.”
There were penalties for revealing to the rest of the class that the test was a trick. Suffice it to say I read every test through thoroughly before proceeding.
What I learned from this was how to budget my test time. I knew which sections would take the most time and I got a sense of the teacher’s rubric. That is, I figured out what parts of the test they were weighing more heavily than others.
RFPs are tests from our customers.
As my career progressed and I became the person managing other salespeople, I discovered that they didn’t have the same teachers I had. They overlooked keywords and phrases in the RFP like, “The CEO’s presentation will include our latest commercial campaign and television ads.”
“Do you understand what they just told us?” I ask.
“Huh, what? Um, we need video projection?”
“They have spent perhaps millions of dollars on TV commercials and the CEO is going to present them. We need to explain the best way to do that, why it’s important to do it that way, and why we should be the ones to do it!”
“But that will be expensive!”
Now it was my turn to say “Uh huh.”
Much of my approach to value-based selling grew from my years in the proposal mill. The sooner you can figure out what any particular customer is really trying to buy, the faster you can meet their need.
This week’s blog focuses on Customer Buying Styles and how to leverage them.Read the Blog