Why is writing a business proposal often a waste of time and effort? Here are three reasons:
- They waste time you could use searching for other prospects or working on building business with current customers
- They end up being written for tire-kickers, giving away pricing or packaging information who may even just be collecting proposals to try and bargain for a better deal. Some may even be “undercover shoppers” for one of your competitors.
- They give you a false sense of optimism that you’re writing a proposal for actual work that you’ll be getting. Most of the time, you’ll just be wasting your time and never hear back or worse, they went to one of your competitors using your proposal as a blueprint to get a better deal.
Now, this doesn’t mean that writing business proposals is always a waste of time. What you have to decide it when it’s actually worth writing a business proposal or not. So, how do you know when a business proposal could lead to a productive customer and when it’s a waste of time? Here are 5 things to consider before you bother writing a business proposal to a lead.
- Does the lead want a proposal, but seems indecisive or unwilling to be direct about their needs? Don’t just offer a proposal. Offer instead to follow up when they can give you a clear idea of their needs and move on.
- Is the lead still shopping around for the right fit? You might be one of a dozen companies that lead has contacted already. Send them info and follow up, but don’t write up a proposal just yet.
- Did the lead immediately demand a proposal? These leads tend to be impulsive and likely to back away. Send info, follow up, but save your time on writing up any proposal.
- Is the lead qualified to even afford what you have to offer them? Can they commit to actually paying you, or do they just love your ideas and want to take your time for free? If they want to play and can’t pay, invite them to join your email list and pass.
- Does the lead seem to be asking questions that seem unrelated to what they seemed to want in the beginning? Are they probing you on every single thing that you do? They’re either a tire kicker or a competitor is trying to scout you out. Hard pass if you can sniff these out.
If you ask yourself these things before writing a business proposal, you will save you time. You’ll also be able to commit more time and resources to your current customers. Don’t waste hours falling into the proposal trap. Don’t be afraid to walk away from a lead that’s not ready to commit. The best leads won’t even want a proposal in writing until they’re actually ready to buy. If a lead wants you to propose to them before they open the checkbook, best to avoid that engagement that will likely end in heartbreak.