January 3, 2022

Have you heard about the 5 proposal sins? They like to sneak in to most proposals. And if you don’t catch them, it will cost you that project win.

All too familiar: Your team is back from the client. Unhappy faces wherever you look.

No need to ask how did the presentation go? Partners, managers – all looking annoyed and disheartened. The answer is there for everyone to see.

I’ve been part of it; I know exactly how it feels.

But there will be a next time. And it can be better.

You need to learn the 5 proposal sins so you can eliminate them from your next proposals.

What they are? Let me tell you!

1. It’s all about you.

You’re proud, I know. Proud of what you and your team have done. But, in the end, it’s not really about you, right?

The client wants to hear “we can make you look great” not “we are so great”. There is a difference.

2. Long and boring proposals

Often mind-numbingly so. Do you work on the larger the project, the more pages the proposal? Many do.

But look, there’s a saying in sales: you confuse, you lose. And long, boring presentations don’t have a point. Nothing special or insightful. It sends your clients to sleep.

3. Framing the prize as a spend

If your clients don’t understand the return it will lead to you losing the project. You have to spell it out.

The value you are bringing is an investment, not a spend. And one that will bring results.

4. Losing sight of the client’s problem

Listen, your client doesn’t care about general trends, who you are, what you have done etc. It’s true.

They only care about their problem; the reason they need to hire you, or that other firm.

So get to the point and make it clear you understand their problem. And how you can solve it.

5. No call to action

The presentation is done. Good job. Sighs of relief. And then nothing from the client.

Why? Because you make it hard to say “yes”.

No call to action and no clear next steps.

The client has seen a lot of presentations and now they are stuck. When you leave it open at the end of your presentation they don’t know what to do next. And remember: the answer to client-confusion is always no!

No more excuses

And now you know what to look for it’s easy to fix.

Stop bogging clients down! Hold your team and yourself to account and give the 5 sins a swift kick.

I have a blog post and video for each of the proposal sins; get started here with the first one.



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