What distinct advantage does your proposal offer?

In the proposal, you aim to convince the customer that you are the best choice to solve their needs and that you add the most value. But how do you make that distinction between you and the competitors clearly visible? Which of your qualities make you stand and give you an advantage?

We ask our clients in the Winning Proposal sessions what sets them apart. In other words, what their Unique Selling Points are. This question is often followed by a long silence. And just to provide an answer, they mention things like:

These are generic terms, meaningless words that can be applied to almost any company.
If you want to differentiate yourself, you need to be specific. For example: we deliver quality and are the only ones in the market who offer not 5 but 10 years of warranty.

But still...

It is challenging to express what sets your company apart from the competitors. What makes you more valuable to the customer? The following approach will help determine your Unique Selling Points:

Start with the needs, desires, and problems of the customer. Which ones do you deal with the most? Make an inventory of these things with your sales team. You’ll notice that your list will include around 20 to 25 customer concerns.

After you made the list, specify for each concern how you fulfil it and where the added value for the customer lies. Compare this to the claims and strengths of your key competitors. You may use a previous prepared battle card, SWOT-analyses or other sources of information to help you with this. Check on which points your competitors are stronger and weaker. Try to state it as objectively as possible. For example: If a competitor is not locally present, and you are, you fulfil the desire for a partner that’s close by more effectively.

It is essential that you avoid subjective value judgments, even if this is a very difficult thing to do. Stay alert not to engage in wishful thinking. You may have one customer who calls your competitor arrogant, but that doesn’t make them an arrogant company. If you score significantly lower on the ability to fulfil certain customer concerns, than it might be better to pass on those sales opportunities. The same goes if you notice that your prospect has a strong preference for a competitor. If so, let this lead go. Because no matter how well you fulfil their needs, the chance of landing the deal is slim. Keep in mind that you should never mention your competitor in your proposal. The value judgment you provide is biased and the customer will think so too. They might even find it rude, which will damage your image. Making you less sympathetic. . And losing sympathy means losing an important likeability factor.

The foundation for your added value is your product, service, advice, service, or method

For example: one of our clients was dreading the implementation of new business software. In their experience, new business software always used more time and budget than anticipated. This was the reason they repeatedly postponed the investment. That was until an IT company came up with a clear implementation plan, including clear phases, tasks, hours, and costs. This made the prospect of the implementation, which was first elusive and complex, clear and manageable. The added value the IT company provided was a clear implementation plan that keeps hours and costs within budget. Precisely what the client needed.

The customer wants proof of that which you claim (the E of the NOSE structure). here are three forms of evidence you can provide:

To go back to the IT company’s implementation plan, they facilitated the provision of evidence by taking the following steps.

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