All the best Proposals and initial bid presentations have a section that can be loosely termed ‘how we got here’. It cannot be doubted that any such formality benefits hugely from the prospect realising that you really do understand their business. Better still with an almost forensic precision. One delivered in a succinct, summarily manner.
How to show that you’ve done your homework can be a tricky task.
Do you plainly list milestones chronologically? Do you pull out key themes, such as product launches or takeovers or new market penetrations? Do you tie-in with the reign of each CEO?
I happened across a lovely way of handling this vital couple of minutes/pages via a David Christian. He’s a university lecturer. Specialisation, Russian history. Frustrated that his subject was taught in silos and didn’t tackle the entirety of our planet’s 13.8 billion years, over two decades he fashioned his Big History course.
He hurtles along by way of Eight Thresholds. They happen to be; The big bang, Stars light up, New chemical elements, Earth & the solar system, Life on Earth, Agriculture, The modern revolution. Yet it is not his story that gets my sales juices flowing, it is how he frames it.
Everyone loves a tale of their corporate’s journey. And you can use this structure to give them a cracker.
Here’s one definition of threshold that lends itself beautifully to an organisation’s particular story arc;
the magnitude or intensity that must be exceeded for a certain reaction, phenomenon, result, or condition to occur or be manifested
My immediate thought was that if your prospect is mainly driven, say, by innovation, then you craft their journey around the latest three of four key innovations. (No need to labour all the way through a Big History eight). And they might not be the obvious product invention. Any organisational innovation could be a belter to highlight. Especially if you too are offering a uniquely innovative solution in some way.
Likewise, if you’re helping turn the key into a new market, then similar such newness unlocked in their past can shape the thresholds you choose. Specifically where you bring winning capability to propel the very same.
And it naturally flows that the final Threshold you present is ‘tomorrow’. In other words, the happy future that you aim to directly contribute towards. Which also provides a perfect slot to introduce post-sale expectations and how you’d together ‘manage’ ongoing success.
Not only should you be thinking about how to cement the most solid of relationships with your prospects by truly demonstrating you are interested in and understand their business, you need also to distinguish yourselves from your competition. And this I fancy is one memorable way to do so.
To quote from a recent Times article on Big History;
“as Confucius say, he who owns the past owns the future”
So you could say too that;
“he who owns the story, owns the deal”
And I’m sure you have quite the story to tell.