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BLOGProposal Triggers: How to Generate More Business

by Randall CraigFiled in: Make It Happen Tipsheet, Blog, Business Development, Networking, StrategyTagged as:

It is exceptionally rare to find a business that says that they are swamped with opportunities — usually it’s the opposite: too few proposals are going out the door.

Proposal Triggers: How to Generate More Business

So how to solve this problem? The high-level answer is that this is precisely what marketing should be doing: generating leads. And turning leads into proposals is precisely what the business development function is responsible for. So where’s the disconnect?

Yes, CRM, marketing automation, content strategy, thought leadership, newsletters, advertising, and events all play a role. But there are also a number of specific things that can lead to a proposal.

Here are six proposal triggers:

  1. Is there new legislation, new regulations, new competitors, or some other new market force? This is the raw material both for demand-gen marketing, and productive bus dev conversations.
  2. Focus on the step before. What is the specific service or “thing” that happens before your services are required? As an example, consider the relationship between a will (which is done by lawyers) and an estate plan (which involves wealth managers). Or a house sale (realtors and lawyers) and mortgages (banks). Developing relationships with the service providers who come one step before you means an increased opportunity for referrals.
  3. Go back to former clients and re-warm the relationship. If they’ve worked with you before, they may now be interested in working with you again.
  4. Pre-emptive pitches. Instead of a long sale process, consider putting together a “pre-emptive” pitch to solve an issue that you believe that they may have, or a new market risk that they may not be aware of. Even if you don’t make a sale — and it’s likely you won’t — your initiative will be appreciated, and your name will be on their map.
  5. Pre-emptive proposals to existing clients. It is too easy for complacency to set in, especially when serving long-time clients. With this strategy, imagine that you JUST won the client, and wanted to impress them with some out-of-the-box thinking. Then put together a proposal for this special work. It is pre-emptive, because competitors will often look for evidence of complacency, and will be trying to worm their way in. This strategy is designed to pre-empt this.
  6. For your existing clientele, add an annual planning and review meeting, to learn about their upcoming year’s priorities and goals. You will be more successful getting additional work if you know about what’s coming down the pike.


Most sophisticated organizations are already doing these items. But not all of them, and sometimes not all of them well. This week, look at your marketing and business development strategies – do any of these proposal triggers need a second look?

Thought Leadership insight: If there is some new legislation, then thought leadership can be developed to include a white paper, blog post, and perhaps a survey. An important prospect can be asked to be a guest on a podcast, and a webinar (or live event) can address the implications of the new laws. Finally, individual attendees can be contacted by bus dev to discuss their specific plans, ultimately leading to proposals.

Related post: Three Keys for a Website that Converts

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