You have a winning proposal. You got the decision maker to take a meeting. You’re in the home stretch for closing your lighting project and if you’ve followed my basic advice, you are well positioned to impress your client and close the deal. Delivering the proposal to your client is like a layup when you’ve prepared properly, but you still need to follow best practices. Here are a few tips, but remember that your personal style plays a big part, so don’t get too hung up on the details.
- Be 5 minutes early: Don’t be 30 min early and don’t be late. If you show up more than 5 minutes early, stay in your vehicle. Being late is the worst outcome, but being too early puts extra stress on your client if they’re trying to wrap something up. 5 minutes is perfect.
- Dress “professional”: This is all about your audience and can range from cowboy boots, carhartts, and flannel shirt to three piece suit. You want your client to think you know them, so dress to their level of expectations.
- Bring Handouts: If you have handouts, bring enough handouts for everyone that will be in the meeting. Print in color with binders if appropriate.
- Sell the VALUE your proposal is delivering. People buy on emotion and justify with reason. Really focus on how your lighting project is going to a) improve their lighting quality, b) increase productivity (office/warehouse) or increase sales (retail) or increase student performance (schools), c) reduce their energy consumption and energy costs, d) other benefits or goals the client indicated were important to them (environmental, code compliance, dirty fixtures, low light levels, etc.
- Show you’re the expert: After your client is stoked about the value you’re delivering, you need to help them rationalize their emotional decision. The key here is to do just enough for them to think you’re the expert. The key here is proving you have the chops to complete the project. This can be done through you and your firm’s education, experience, referrals, licenses, etc. REmember, they are hiring you because you know what you’re doing!
- Answer questions honestly and accurately: They will have questions. Answer them honestly and accurately. If they ask for something you don’t have, tell them you’ll get back to them asap with answers. Take notes on the questions so you don’t forget.
- Ask for their business: The final step is to ask for their business. It’s amazing what happens when you ask for something: Again, find your own groove, but something like: We’d like your business. Here is the contract we need signed and here is what we’ll do next.
- Close: You want one of three outcomes: a) signed the contract, b) asked for more information, or c) asked for more time to consider. If the outcome is a signed contract, you’re ready to deliver and you’re done with this blog series. If the outcome is b), move on to Blog #9. If the outcome is c) move on to Blog #10!
Leif Elgethun, CEO