Anatomy of a Successful Proposal – Closing the Sale
Presentation of your proposal is paramount to winning the job. Some inspection companies prefer to simply send their formal documents via electronic means (E-mail or fax) to their point of contact. While this is often the quickest, easiest, and most preferred method between clients and inspection companies, sometimes a more formal presentation hand delivered, or sent via post and parcel may provide an upper hand with a professional touch. Regardless of the method you choose, the proposal must be delivered in a timely fashion. Professional appearance again is a must. The proposal should be free of grammatical errors, spelling errors, and typos. Like it or not, the proposal is your client’s precursor to the finished PCR product they will receive. Your potential client is continuing their interview process of potential contractors. Just like a poorly written résumé, the proposal may be discarded altogether by your client if this initial document is full of simple errors making it difficult to read.
There is a fine line between courteous follow-up and outright harassment of your client. A professionally written E-mail or brief phone call to your client to ensure they at least have received your proposal is encouraged only if the client has not otherwise indicated such in previous correspondence. The phone call may provide an opportunity to review the document with them and address any remaining concerns they may have. Continuous correspondence or numerous phone calls to your client for status of an open proposal may potentially be construed as harassment or desperation for the job. Patience is a virtue. If the proposal expiration date is nearing, a last contact is understandable and can often assist you to learn of the decision. This may even provide you an opportunity to discuss what may have swayed their decision. It may be easy to become discouraged while waiting for an answer, but all is not lost. While many proposals will get accepted, many more will be turned down. The latter should be considered a learning experience to continually hone your writing skills and professional document preparations.
Ask for the Sale
Lastly, as any accomplished salesman will say: “Don’t be afraid to ask for the sale!”
While it may seem a bit tacky, this is probably the most important aspect of gaining new clients. Simply asking the client when they would like to schedule the PCA may be all the encouragement they need to hire you. This of course takes a bit of practice, but knowing when to ask and how to ask without pressure is a skill that you should learn. In some instances, skill sets and proposals may be almost identical between competing inspection companies. The fact that you asked for the sale and the competition did not, will definitely push the odds to your favor.
Like it or not, most inspectors are not simply service providers, but must also be accomplished salesmen as well. If your skills are lacking in this area, it may be prudent to hire an assistant who is; or invest in classes or seminars that can improve your selling and public speaking skills.
So your proposal has been accepted. Great!
Now you just have to set up the inspection. This is often the simplest step but can sometimes prove quite daunting. Typically all that needs completed is merely to accommodate both yours and the client’s respective schedules. Often the client will coordinate the PCA with the current facility owners and/or occupants. Most owners and occupants are fully aware of inspection activities that are likely to occur. This is the time to emphasize the need for proper personnel and documents to be made readily available for interview and review. The estimated time for the site review should be provided to all interested parties as a courtesy for their time allotment. If the PCA scope includes specialty consultants, their schedules will also need to be coordinated promptly. If the PCA scope involves a specialty service that is largely reliant upon weather conditions (i.e. infrared thermal imaging services), then contingency plans should be made and understood by all parties.
Typically all of this coordination can be performed via phone calls and electronic communication. Seasoned real estate professionals in the commercial industry are often quite adept at assisting with inspection activity coordination. Again, unlike residential inspections, relatively little emotion is involved in a commercial property transaction. A more professional composure is often maintained throughout the process making your ultimate job that much easier. Regardless, a checklist of items to be completed prior to the actual commencement of the PCA can prove quite helpful even for the most seasoned commercial inspector.
Put it to Work
With the information provided in this course, a commercial property inspector can competently provide a professional and conclusive proposal document. No one proposal is ever perfect, but this fact should not inhibit you from striving for perfection. Proposal documents are ever changing for this author and continue to be honed with every proposal written. With practice, any inspector can produce well written proposals that will bring them much success. The key elements that have been discussed above will assist you in this effort.
I encourage inspectors entering the commercial inspection field to submit their proposals for review to any one of our NACBI senior members. NACBI is about helping those who truly seek to become successful in their commercial endeavors. We learn from each other and seek to improve the industry through networking, encouragement, and continued education. Our senior members are more than happy to lend a helping hand or provide direction when composing a property condition assessment proposal.
Please feel free to provide any feedback or constructive criticism about this course.
Much success in your inspection business!