By William Mellor
Vice President & General Manager
As a site location consulting firm, we see a lot of proposals from a lot of different communities, and let me just say, 95% of them aren’t worth reading. That might be hard to hear, but it’s the truth.
We just finished a project in West Plains, MO, where they hired us to revamp their proposal and create a base template that they can customize for each new business prospect going forward. This has been a growing area of our business and that trend is likely to continue.
The field of Economic Development has become ever more sophisticated and increasingly critical to a community’s sustained growth, but proposals are seemingly not getting much attention. When we issue an RFP for our site location clients, the proposals we get in response turn my desk into a hellscape of endless and indistinguishable heaps of paper.
No proposal stands out from any other. This is true, not just of the physical appearance, but of the content as well. Once you have read 1 or 2 proposals, you have read 90% of proposals. This is unfortunate because it means that a lot of great places are going to be overlooked because they blew their first impression. We, as site selectors, love learning about and traveling to new places, but proposals so often fail to do justice to the places they represent.
I would concede that Economic Development is a relationship-based industry, and no proposal – no matter how good – is not going to win you a project. But alas, you have to follow the process, and the process requires a proposal.
I would also clarify that the proposal is not meant to win the project outright. It is meant to get you to the short list – then your carefully crafted client experience, devilish good looks, and killer sales pitch can win the day for you!
You have to create a proposal that stands out from the first time that your prospect lays eyes on it. That means investing in some type of nice, presentable binding. Since you only have to create a few of these per project, the cost should be minimal.
More importantly, the content inside needs to be highly customized to the needs of the client. That includes everything from identifying the cost advantages in your community compared against regional competitors, to incentives, to Gantt charts of construction timelines and capital outlays, to guarantees that you are willing commit to the project. The list goes on, and it is only limited by your imagination. Take the time to fully understand the project and the needs of the client, then craft meaningful ways of luring them to your community. These are the things that catch the attention of site selectors.
If you want to increase your conversion rate, you need to have a strong proposal. Having a strong proposal means offering a unique package that sets you apart from your competitors. Even still, you won’t win every project, but you are certain to be short-listed more frequently. And that gives you a chance to put your devilish good looks and killer sales pitch to good use!
If you want more information on how to create great proposals, you are in luck! Check out our webinar on Winning Projects: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/perfect-proposals-how-to-attract-your-next-manufacturing-employer-tickets-35178649287