I’m not buying from you because you might get hit by a bus

Why one asshole comment from a client changed my proposal content forever Written by Adam Hempenstall

You see, it’s the questions they never ask that matter, not the ones they do.

There’s this thing called social etiquette that stops people asking what they really want to know.

These are the questions your potential client simply can’t ask through not wanting to be rude or making him or herself look and feel pathetic. Here are some examples:

“What happens if you run off with my money?”
“How do I know you’ll do it how I think you will?”
“What will my boss think of me?”
“Will I lose my money on this?”
“What if it’s wrong and our customers leave us?”
“How do I know these testimonials are real?”
“Is this guy going to be like the last guy?”
“How do I know it’ll be done in time for the event?”

These are genuine concerns but no self-respecting human can bring them up. Except this one time.

I’d been up since 5am to make it from Brighton to London for a 10am meeting. It was a massive potential deal so I’d get there an hour early, go and chill, calm down from the travel and make my way to their office at 9.55am on the dot.

We’re 45 minutes into this meeting, it couldn’t be going any better then he drops this bombshell.

“What happens if you get hit by a bus or a car, or you get in a plane crash or get terminally ill suddenly and you die and we can’t contact you?”

The guy actually point blank asked me this to my face mid meeting about data storage. He’d not just considered not being able to get hold of me for whatever reason.

He’d considered me being dead and even worse, the METHOD in which I died, so much so he cycled through a few!

So that guy has no problem asking mad questions and it was in that moment I realised there are so many people who probably thought the same thing but couldn’t ask, I couldn’t answer then of course, they never get the reassurance they need.

End result, no deal.

Excluding our exception of a client, it’s the other 99.9% of the time when someone sits there at home thinking possibly “Is this the right company to deal with or should I go with another company instead?”

You need to address these issues, not head on. Circumvent the issue but still hit the root issue. Here’s an example:

Unasked Question: “What happens if you explode in a ball of flames and I can’t access my data anymore?”

Pre-emptive response:

Of course, it’s reasonable to wonder what might happen to your data in the event of a disaster. We have two solutions. Firstly, anyone you assign permissions to can download the data from your settings area. In addition, the two co-founders of our company have a disaster recovery plan which assigns a set of instructions should the worst happen. It’s something we’ve taken pains to ensure there’s no issue which includes 6-monthly recap training with delegates to ensure they are able to carry out the tasks required. This of course means you getting all your data back safely.

Consider these questions. It’s not about making the whole proposal depressing but you do need to be savvy enough, or more to the point, not deluded enough to consider that these types of questions are real. They need addressing in the proposal somehow.

Lets think of other things though, what about some of the less morbid but equally obvious ones like someone wondering if you’re going to do the job you said you’d do.

This is incredibly open ended so perhaps you’d address not having a minimum term contract and being able to walk away at any time. Maybe you’d have a guarantee of some sort, maybe you’d go heavy on the testimonials and social proof.

The important point, and this is the crucial thing that people miss is, you must think carefully about the person you’re sending the proposal to. I’m going to say it again.

You must think carefully about the PERSON you’re sending the proposal to

It’s a person who runs a business and you’re presenting a business case for working with you but you’re also asking a person to make a big decision. Try to consider that when writing your proposal copy.

If you do this effectively you will be seen as transparent, trustworthy, caring, considerate and the type of business who puts the needs and concerns of their clients first.

That is the type of company you’d want to do business with and it’s the kind of company they want to do business with too.

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