Proposals That Work
How C-tailers And Consumers Get On The Same Page
By Mark Fleischman
A document can take on a significance that lasts hundreds of years. Take the Declaration of Independence. That bit of parchment didn't come out of nowhere: Jefferson wrote it to summarize colonial grievance with the misrule of King George V. It came about, you might say, as a result of unsatisfied consumer expectations.
So it is—on a much smaller scale, of course—with the written proposals that C-tailers use to nail down agreements with their customers. Everyone in custom install has a slightly different take on how the proposal should work. So perhaps the main significance of the proposal is that it illustrates how different parties do business. We spoke to a group of successful C-tailers to find out how they handle the proposal and how that relates to what makes their businesses tick.
MAKING A CONNECTION
"Normally we don't tailor a proposal to win a job." Eric Ward, custom sales manager of Seattle's Definitive Audio, is emphatic on this point. "We get a job because we make a connection with the customer."
The company's two showrooms (Seattle and nearby Bellevue) display a wide range of bleeding-edge product from the likes of Runco, Meridian and B&W. But according to Ward, service is a crucial selling point in winning the customer's confidence, and with it, the hoped-for connection. "We're the only integrator in the marketplace with our own full-fledged service center. We have two installers who do nothing but warranty work and service issues for past clients. If you bought a system five years ago and the projector goes down on a Wednesday, and you're having a party on Friday, we've got a service guy who can be there in one day. We don't have to run that through our normal installers who are usually booked out a month."