How to Use Unsolicited Proposals

How to Use Unsolicited Proposals

Outbound marketing involves pushing a product or service to prospects. The push is often perceived by prospects as a disruption because they are being stopped from what they are doing to be sold something that they do not need. Because prospects are gaining greater control over the information that they receive and how they received it, outbound marketing must be educational to be effective. The core principle of education-based marketing is that you will attract more prospects by offering to teach something of value than by trying to sell them something.

Combining education with an offer and a specific call to action through an unsolicited proposal (UP) is an effective form of outbound marketing. UPs help sellers initiate targeted conversations with prospects around specific business problems. The UP provides education on how someone in a similar role (e.g., CIO) and in a similar company (industry and size) solved a critical business issue. The UP then provides education on how you have helped similar companies solve the issue. Your goal is to connect with the prospect to educate and share with them how they can do it too.

For example, because of pressure to reduce costs, many CIOs in the retail industry have been forced to run legacy email applications even though the needs of the business have evolved. A recent UP from Microsoft communicated how it is helping retail customers move to enterprise-grade email while keeping costs in-line with management expectations. It also communicated how Microsoft is helping CIOs to further reduce costs by eliminating the need for third-party anti-virus and spam-filtering. The call to action was an opportunity to educate the prospect on how.

UP Success Tips
* The less “marketing” the UP, the better. Prospects do not want to feel “sold.” Help them solve problems.
* Keep UPs short, sweet and to-the-point. Three-page document is bad. Two to three short paragraphs is good.
* Ensure UPs are customer-focused, not focused on your company or product/service.
* Ensure sellers follow-up with prospects  within 1-2 days. Connected sales and marketing is key.

After the prospect has been educated, if they are interested in your solution, providing them with an offer can help sustain momentum and positively influence the decision-making process. For example, offering the prospect $3,000 in free proof-of-concept funding to assist with the evaluation process. Remember, when you offer to teach something of value, power shifts from the prospect to the seller. The seller becomes a consultant/teacher and the prospect’s negative association of feeling sold is removed. Do not disrupt prospects. Educate them.

All contents copyright © 2012, Josh Lowry. All rights reserved.

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