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Dust Off Your Old Proposals — You May Find a Vein of Gold

Your file of prior proposals to your existing customers may be an excellent source of new business.
Top performers make a habit of digging deeper than the first problem that surfaces when developing a needs analysis for a new prospect. That comes with the territory when you are doing consultative selling the right way. After all, you need to surface all the potential issues — it’s why you asked all those probing questions, right?
The result should be a proposal that addresses more than one issue and one recommendation. A meaty, consultative proposal will cover four or five things prospects can do to fix problems they face, with a variety of options to consider and ways to get started.
More often than not, buyers will move ahead on the “hot button” issue they need to address immediately, and take a pass on the other ideas you present. They may say they like what you have to offer, but cash, timing or resources limit what they can do initially.

Old problems equal new opportunities

Clients may have said they’d like to tackle those less urgent issues later. But since we are all busy, and with the way companies are hoarding cash now, those other issues have not been addressed.
And that’s where you can find new opportunities! Revisit proposals you’ve submitted over the past year or two and look at what the buyer chose to do:
* How is implementation going for them?
* Where do they stand on solving the “hot button” problem they wanted to tackle first? Do they need more help with that issue? Examine the other recommendations you made but they tabled at the time.
* Do the problems underlying your recommendations still exist?
* Could your buyer’s profitability or cost cutting improve now, if they were addressed?

Set up a review meeting

For existing clients, a review meeting is a good way to check on how things are going, to support the work that’s been done so far, and reinforce the fact that your organization has added value.
Pull your original proposal off the hard drive and use it as the outline for your review meeting. First, touch on the “hot button” problem you discovered and they asked you to help fix. Suggest ways that you can take the results they have achieved so far to “the next level” with some additional tweaking.
Next, review the other recommendations you made originally — those issues that the customer wanted to tackle later.”
Most likely those unaddressed problems still exist, and may cause even more pain now. That’s especially true if solving them will help cut costs, bring in more revenue, or improve productivity.

Where the customer is now

After all, it’s been a year or two and chances are a lot has changed for your client in that period of time. Has revenue suffered? Have costs gone up? Are they forced to do more with less staff?
Show how you can help, even given a tight budget, and you may be able to turn that old proposal into a healthy addition to your pipeline.

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