One of the most frustrating elements of being an IT Solution Provider or Managed Service Provider (MSP) business owner is when you’ve put time and effort into a sales proposal for a client, send that proposal to them and then... everything goes quiet.
Sadly, this is an all too familiar scenario for many MSP’s. It is frustrating from your perspective, because while you’d like to win the business, if that isn’t going to happen then you would at least like to know why you didn’t win the business. When the prospect goes silent - ignoring your phone calls, emails and voicemails - it’s very frustrating for you.
So how can you avoid this common scenario? By using up-front agreements.
As with everything you do for a client, you must ensure that the client sees value within it - or else they won’t treat it (or you) with respect.
The same is true for proposals.
I’ve been very outspoken in my view that MSP’s should Stop Writing Sales Proposals and do accept that while you should try to avoid writing them due to the time and energy they can sap (often, with no realistic chance for reward) they are at times a necessary evil.
By ensuring that your client appreciates - and values - all the time and effort you put into a proposal, you’ll go a long way to establishing a good rapport with them and making sure that win or lose the business, the channels of communication stay open.
The next time a client asks you to deliver a proposal, ask them to clarify why they need this. Sometimes it’s because they want more information - in which case you can discuss their queries directly and avoid submitting the time to writing a proposal.
More often than not though, when a client asks for a proposal (or uses the dreaded “let me think about it” phrase) it’s because they aren’t ready to buy but are uncomfortable saying “no” to your face.
The first lesson here is to make it easy for a prospect to say no. While you would prefer them to say yes, at least if they say no you know where you stand.
The second step is, if you agree to write a proposal, to create an up-front agreement with the client in exchange for the proposal.
So, rather than blindly agreeing to deliver a proposal with no commitment on the clients behalf, why not ask the client for an agreement that if you take the time to write a proposal - would they be willing to commit the time to give feedback on it, even if they choose not to work with you?
Most clients I’ve met would agree to this without hesitation, and it’s this small step of adding some accountability to the clients process after they’ve received a proposal that can make all the difference between a client giving you feedback on why you didn’t win the business, and ignoring your phone calls and hiding!
While I’d always suggest that you avoid writing a proposal until you have a very solid reason for doing so from a client, at times they are necessary.
Always remember that your time, energy, experience and expertise goes into writing a proposal - and this is valuable. Ensure your client appreciates that value by creating an up-front agreement with them to give you feedback on your proposal - whether you win or lose the business.
Creating an up-front agreement before delivering proposals can save you a lot of time and frustration, and it can help you improve your proposals for the future - enabling you to win more business.