It's widely known, to be a sales person, one must be able to sell (for sure) through talking (over the phone) or meeting prospective clients -- to explain, seek clarification, convince, hence sell. All is done through persuasive "speeches" -- not in silence.
Understand. From that point of view -- having silent sales persons sound good-for-nothing. Totally agree!
But what about business proposals? Do you know that they are silent sales persons?
It's not a trick. It's true. Business proposals are silent sales persons. In bidding/tendering situation, sometimes, sales person is not allowed to speak with prospective clients. The only way to communicate with them is through proposal submission -- thus, this turns a proposal into a "silent sales person".
The proposal, a response to a tender or a bid, though is regarded as a "silent" person doesn't mean that it cannot "act" as a living and talking sales person. When it is written well, it can be even more powerful than a real talking sales person.
Destiny of well written proposal
A very well written proposal presents and communicates solutions and ideas so clearly as if they all jump off the pages by themselves and straight into the mind of the readers -- the proposal evaluators. A very well written proposal has contents that resonate with the evaluators' personal experiences and professional expectations. Hence, as they read through, they nod and nod their heads in agreement. A well written proposal leads to a smooth negotiation, and its destiny ends with a contract award.
As simple as that? Not quite.
In fact, it takes a whole of hard work before the writing part kicks in. So where do we start?
Well, traditionally we start with understanding the prospective client's requirements -- while this may still be a good place to start, but along the way, it is imperative to investigate the unspoken or unrecognised needs. These are the needs when well addressed in the proposal will make the evaluators' heads nod and nod.
In early 2010, I led a team to bid for an airport IT infrastructure project. The solution requirements were not difficult and it was not a complex project either. Yet, the prospective client issued a tender in search for a perfect supplier.
My intuition told me, at once, that the key to win the bid was not just understanding the requirements (which were obvious and common) and offering the same solution that others offered at a competitive price, but finding something beyond the stated needs written in the tender document -- the unspoken needs.
The silent sales person revealed the client's unspoken needs
True enough. It was not a solution that only involved hardware and software that made the evaluators nodded their heads in agreement. It was the unspoken need! The needs, which we eventually uncovered through persistent investigation, were the human resources part: the client had too many ground staff. It didn't know what to do with them.
We addressed these needs in the proposal-- how to handle the client's extra resources. In fact, we proposed to engage them as our onsite support team, and offered skills upgrade through technical training.
With that, guess what? Our silent sales person (our proposal) spoke the loudest. We won the project!
Now you believe me: A silent sales person does exist. If you haven't seen one, perhaps, it's a time for you to create one yourself. All the best!
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