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Why a professional proposal matters

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An attractive and accurate proposal will allow you to get your foot in the door. Then it's up to you to sell the job.

Spring and fall are proposal time for most landscape and lawn care professionals. We try to gauge clients’ satisfaction with our service and develop relationships with new prospects. No matter the impetus, a professional proposal distinguishes you from your competition.

Before addressing the structure of professional proposals, consider the twin concepts pride and professionalism. “Do you have pride in what you do, or do you apologize for it? Have you ever thought about it? Do you take enough credit or pride for the magnitude of responsibility and professionalism that you offer your customers?”

Professionalism goes beyond clean trucks and uniforms. It entails everything we do daily to be different and better than the competition—training, education and business knowledge gained through experience. If you have pride in your profession and you are a trained professional, you have more confidence in what you do. As your confidence increases, your desire to be better than your competitors grows, giving you a better opportunity to close the sale.

Do you have a plan?

Professionally defining who you are helps you define who your prospects need to be. Attracting a more professional client—residential and commercial—helps you increase profit margins. A professional clientele expects a more professional service, a client more willing to pay for the benefits that coincide with hiring a professional contractor.

By definition, to bid is to try or attempt. A proposal is to make an offer. Although the words are often interchanged, perceived value follows the word proposal.

Anything you can do to increase the perceived value of your service increases your opportunity to close the sale. Does your current proposal format say that you “need” the work or “want” the work? Although we all need work to stay in business, the last thing your potential client should perceive is that you need the work. If your proposal sends that message, clients will more than likely want to negotiate to a lower price. If your proposal says that you want the work, they may still negotiate price, however, the playing field is more level.

Clear and concise

Industry-specific jargon leaves clients confused. Use language and phrases that your prospect understands. If your prospects don’t understand what you’re saying they cannot make an educated decision to buy your services.

Use a question and answer sheet corresponding with your proposal to explain your service in detail. There may be occasions when you’re talking to someone other than the person actually making the decision to hire a contractor. In that situation, if you do not have a written explanation of your services, the message could be lost or distorted from one person to the next.

Take the time to develop a proposal format that your prospects can easily understand. List each service individually, such as mowing and trimming, pruning, mulching, fertilization and weed control and annuals, to name a few.

Double check your professional proposal for obvious spelling and grammar errors. Also, double check your list of services and fees.

Perhaps, you’ve been to bid openings, where some of the proposals were less than professional, maybe even a hand-written proposal torn out of a notebook. A professional proposal will not guarantee you a sell; however, it will guarantee you a professional image and greater perceived value.

Keep calling

Sales are the result of many factors including perceived value, a professional proposal and following up after the proposal. From the time the telephone rings, begin laying the foundation that your business is more professional, different and better than your competition. Don’t just send out your proposal and wait for a response. Follow-up your proposals within two days with phone calls to prospects.

Many times, the prospect has had time to review multiple proposals and may have a few questions, but do not pick up the telephone to call you.

Persistence is a virtue, not a sin. Thorne Sales in Nashville, Tenn., stated that 50 percent of sales people call once and quit; 40 percent of sales people call twice and quit; 10 percent of sales people keep on calling; 80 percent of sales are made after the fifth call.

In other words, that 10 percent make 80 percent of the sales. In what group do you want your company to be included? An attractive and professional proposal gets you in the door. It tells the prospect that you’re proud of what you do. Then it’s up to you to sell the job. Keep calling. Most of your competitors won’t.

 

— Wayne Volz owns and operates Wayne’s Lawn Service, in Louisville, Ky. Contact him at
WaynesLawn1@aol.com.

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