The Proposal: Make Sure You Get it Right
One of the tasks that takes up a large portion of my time is writing system proposals. I do this in collaboration with my IBIS colleague John Cracknell in the U.K. I actually look forward to putting a proposal together, as time-consuming as it is. One of the motivations is that we have been told by several prospects and printer vendors that our proposals are among the best they've ever seen, from anyone. So, bragging rights out of the way, let me expound on why your proposal is essential to your sales success.
I have seen multi-million dollar digital system proposals which are basically line item price lists. Your prospect deserves better. After meeting with the salesperson (or sales team), the prospect should expect a document which is explanatory, clearly laid-out and comprehensive. This is particularly critical with digital systems, which, in many cases, differ widely from offset technology and workflow. A well written proposal says to the prospect that a) you've taken the time to clearly understand their needs, and b) you've put together a solid system approach to solve their particular production problems, and it is one that gives them opportunities to bring in more business.
At IBIS, we start with an overview of the prospect's application(s) and how our systems will handle their formats. The roles of the various system components and their function within the application are explained. We provide a workflow analysis, as well as a detailed system layout. We explain the system specifications and performance. Most importantly, we provide a table of estimated throughputs with the prospect's formats and materials.
Make no mistake, there's a lot of "salesmanship" within the document. We explain all of the advantages of our technology. But it serves the entirety of the proposal. System options are described in their own detailed appendices so that the prospect gains an understanding of what they do. And, finally, there is a table of contents so that the reader doesn't have to flip through the pages over and over to find the information they want.
If you're out there selling six- or seven-figure systems, make sure you spend the time and effort to ensure that your proposal clearly explains your system, its advantages and all of its configuration and options. Don't hand your prospect a price list generated by software. They deserve better.