In this installment of our series aimed at helping you understand your own personality style and that of your clients, we focus on the very important proposal stage. If you haven’t done so already, you may want to read the first article. It contains a link to a quick online assessment that will generate your own personal profile report. This report will allow you to get maximum value out of this and subsequent articles, as it will provide details about your own style and help you determine the personality style of your clients. The report categorizes the four personalities as: Gold – Structure oriented, Orange – Action oriented, Blue- People oriented and Green – Logic oriented.
What is most important to your clients during the proposal stage?
First and foremost, regardless of the personality type of your client, your goal is to deliver a comprehensive quality proposal that hits the mark on their needs. The challenge is that clients vary in what they deem to be comprehensive; some want to know just the high level elements while others want complete detail. Clients also vary in their ability to explain exactly what they are looking for. Finally, they vary on what proposal elements are most important to them – their hot button preferences – which are obviously important to target if you want your proposal to stand out from the crowd. By looking at key proposal elements, I will provide some guidance on each of the four personality styles and what would be most important to each.
Initial request/information gathering
As you gain information about the event itself, you have the opportunity to ascertain the personality style of your client. Here are some indicators to help determine the personality style you are working with:
- Gold – Structure oriented style: Request for proposal will be formal, with very specific requirements provided up front. Client is most comfortable with a written proposal.
- Orange – Action oriented style: Request will be brief, with high level objectives. Client will enjoy an interactive discussion to help define their requirements.
- Blue – People oriented style: Request will be focused on high level requirements. The client will want to connect with you to understand your style and abilities. The details of “what” can be worked out if they are comfortable with “who” is delivering it.
- Green – Logic oriented style: Request will be formal and high level. A concise description of objectives and expected deliverables will be provided in writing.
The proposal itself
A best practice for the actual proposal is to provide an overview that provides a concise description of what is being proposed followed by a detailed project outline. Most clients will use the overview as a filter, especially if they are receiving proposals from multiple suppliers. The overview needs to hit the mark to ensure they read further on the specifics.
- Gold – Structure oriented style: This personality style loves checklists, so provide the overview and detailed project plan in that form. Detail what is covered and concisely how. Also, ensure you provide a little background information to establish your credibility. This personality style will look at your past performance as a key indicator of your future performance.
- Orange – Action oriented style: This personality style can have a very short attention span, so like the structure oriented type, they appreciate a concise bullet point list. Focus on what the end result will look like. They also appreciate hands-on delivery, so providing some specific examples of how you are going to achieve results is critical. Unlike structure oriented types, they are more concerned with future possibilities than on previous experience.
- Blue – People oriented style: This personality style loves passion and the chance to deliver unique solutions. Focus on building a personal connection and highlight your competence in delivering great experiences for clients. Client engagement is the most important factor, so talk about the experience participants will have and how you will achieve this.
- Green – Logic oriented style: This personality style wants to ensure you have depth. They will research multiple options so you need to present yourself as an expert. They will focus on the task and aren’t looking for a personal connection. They have high standards and want to know you share those standards and have the ability to deliver on them. Do not over promise and be ready to be challenged and questioned on every element of the proposal. This questioning speaks to their need for an in depth understanding of the “what” and “how”, and allows them to gain confidence that you have thought through all elements and can deliver exceptional results.
Evaluating both your own style and becoming adept at “categorizing” your clients quickly can not only help you connect on a personal level with your current clients, but also help get that all important first foot in the door for new ones. You need to demonstrate your skills by giving the client what they want most, not what you think is most important for them to know.