Welcome to Proposal May-hem, our annual tradition of posting anything and everything proposal related in the month of May to coincide with our attendance of the annual APMP (Association of Proposal Management Professionals) Bid and Proposal Conference. Lets kick this thing off and coincidentally our first topic will be “How to Prepare for a Kick-Off Meeting”
So an RFP has dropped into your world and you know your team is going to respond and planning must begin as soon as possible. Many people’s first thought is great, lets have a kick -off meeting and get the ball rolling but is that the right thing to do? Put simply, No. A kick off meeting is far too often a disorganized hodgepodge of ideas, differing opinions and unclear objectives which many times then requires a second “kick-off” meeting to actually get down to business. In the proposal world that is a waste of time that just won’t be tolerated. Lets now discuss a few key tasks that must be accomplished BEFORE the kick-off meeting.
Number 1 – Make it personal.
“The quality of a proposal is indicative of a company’s desire for my business”
These were the words of a CEO when questioned about the importance of a proposal within the sales process, and perfectly sum up just how vital these documents are to a winning campaign.
So the question is; how often does a proposal or bid document leave your building that you can hand on heart say truly reflects just how determined you are to win the deal?
“Mad Men” Sales Process
I was thinking of starting this blog off by saying something prophetic like “the sales landscape is changing” but in all actuality, the sales landscape has already changed and is constantly changing. In the old days, the salesman was in an education role where he would tell his prospective buyer all about how great his product was and how badly the buyer needed it. He would educate the buyer not only on what the product was but just how useful and essential the product is to the buyer’s life. Customizing the buying experience was not an essential part of the sales process either, most times the buyer was the one who had to customize themselves to the product. If any of you have watched “Mad Men” you probably have some idea of what I’m talking about.
Dr. Lynell Burmark, an associate at the Thornburg Center for Professional Development said, “…unless our words, concepts, ideas are hooked onto an image, they will go in one ear, sail through the brain, and go out the other ear. Words are processed by our short-term memory where we can only retain about 7 bits of information (plus or minus 2) … Images, on the other hand, go directly into long-term memory where they are indelibly etched.”
In a very interesting article entitled The Power of Visual Communication by Mike Parkinson, he brings to light that “according to a 3M-sponsored study at the University of Minnesota School of Management it was found that presenters who use visual aids are 43% more effective in persuading audience members to take a desired course of action than presenters who don’t use visuals.” So if the aim of graphics is persuasion, a proposal should be the first place to use graphics.
“My fear now is of cliche, of complacency, of not being able to feel authenticity in myself and those around me.” – John Hawkes
At the cost of sounding clichéd (pun intended) here is an excerpt from a blog by Jayme Sokolow, the recipient of Fellows Award and a Vision Award from the Association of Proposal Management Professionals for his contributions to the proposal profession. We found this hilarious but completely true:
Best of breed
If you are not selling puppies, why claim that your solution is the “best of breed?” The phrase comes from the world of show dogs.