One of the best parts of seeing a massage therapist is having all the knots worked out of a particularly sore spot. However, if you have an appointment and the massage therapist spends the entire time rubbing your calves when really it is your shoulder blades that need the work, the trip is wasted. You may leave frustrated, confused, and most likely will not return. This is why most massage therapists begin by asking their clients for any problem areas they would like to focus on.
In the world of writing proposals, you must do the same thing: identify the customer’s “problem areas” or hot buttons and address them. A proposal misses its mark if it does not address the hot buttons that a customer has.
A hot button is any issue that the customer may have, hidden or obvious. These issues are the things that keep the customer awake at night and influence the customer’s decision to buy. They may also be the objectives the customer is trying to achieve. Citing a customer’s hot buttons directs your proposal on the customer instead of yourself.
Many companies make the mistake of placing too much focus on themselves when they should be emphasizing what the customer needs. Like a misdirected massage therapist, this wastes time writing and may leave the customer confused or frustrated when they read the proposal.
Identifying Hot Buttons
Hot buttons are like knots in the body—they can be hard to find and even harder to address. However, the capture manager is a vital source available to a proposal team to help them identify the issues to focus their writing on.
Effective capture managers discover hot button issues throughout their correspondence with a potential customer. Because of this, they are key in providing customer information to the proposal team. Include the capture manager in the kickoff meeting so he or she can provide insight into hot button issues you should address in the proposal.
Collaborating with the capture manager allows you to uncover hidden customer issues like political issues, personal agendas, and biases you can clearly address in the proposal. Use all available capture resources to find hot buttons. As you begin planning your proposal, use the capture plan as background information and convert relevant capture strategies into proposal strategies.
Addressing Hot Buttons
A massage therapist who neglects to ask the customer about his or her problem areas probably isn’t very focused on the customer. This results in dissatisfaction and a lot of effort wasted in the wrong places. When you address hot buttons in a proposal, you ensure the customer’s biggest issues are attended to and create a winning proposal.
As you begin writing your proposal, cite customer hot buttons first to place focus on what the customer needs. Once their need has been established, you can explain how your company will fulfill that need. Link solicitation requirements to hot button issues to demonstrate your understanding of the customer.
Working out the Kinks
Hot button issues are most important to the customer, so when you take the time to identify and address these issues, you prepare a customer-focused proposal. This increases your chances of a winning proposal and ensures you are delivering what the customer needs. Like an excellent massage therapist, targeting the problem areas puts everyone at ease.