When I first started Red Branch Media, it was easy to get new business. People knew my reputation, they assumed, being a consultant, my work would be cheaper (it was), and friends who had long wanted to collaborate but couldn’t due to competitive interests now leapt at the chance to work with me. YAY!
As my business has grown from consultant to consultancy to firm to now-agency, it feels like the proposal process has changed. As I mentioned to my friend Mary Ellen Slayter (@MESlayter) the other day (founder of the fabulous Reputation Capital Media), back then, my close rate was darn near 100%. My only focus was signing new business, delighting clients and staying away from the wine until at least 5pm, or 4…3:30 is the absolute earliest.
Today, staying away from the wine is still a problem. Also, though, my close rate has gone right through the floor. I’m lucky if we win 60% of the proposals we send out. And for a while, that really hurt my little entrepreneurial heart. Why did no one like me all of the sudden?
Until I realized, these people don’t KNOW me. I need to woo them, I need to make the proposal less about me and more about them. Rocket science, eh?
So we changed some stuff:
- We got rid of a wonky proposal system that made us look unprofessional.
- I started taking courses around sales. Selling a company is different than selling yourself.
- I invited the team to assist with elements of the proposal that I did not have expertise in (digital media, SEO, etc).
- We began using more visuals in our proposal process.
- We built out proof points and case studies to assist where prospects needed more support.
- And finally…
I empathized. Instead of assuming my prospect understood how much value we would bring to the table, I showed them. I stood in their shoes (as a CEO) and tried to figure out what I would need if someone were asking me for $5,000, $10,000, $25,000.
- I would need to see their face.
- I would want their full attention.
- I would want proof that the plan they had would work.
- I would want to know how to get out if I were displeased.
- I would need to see their dedication to my business success.
- I would need to speak to them often and on my timeline, not theirs.
In short, I’d need to make them an offer they couldn’t refuse.