5 Tips for Closing the Deal and Getting the Job

By MBO Partners | June 10, 2024

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When you own your own firm, you must perform a crucial task: attracting potential customers.

Increasing your network and marketing your services are simply the first steps.

We look at five suggestions that can help you convert a request for proposals (RFP) into a client acquisition below.

Acquiring new clients is an essential part of your business. While marketing your services and growing your network is critical, these are just steps in the first phase of client acquisition. When it comes time to put pen to paper (or cursor to electronic document), the way you handle closing a sale is important for your success and the longevity of your client relationship.

Let’s take a look at five tips that can help you turn a request for proposal (RFP) into a statement of work (SOW).

1. Find a Balance Between the Hard and Soft Sell

When meeting a prospective client, your goal is to win their project. This means demonstrating that you have the right skills, qualifications, and experience for their project.  Don’t make the mistake of letting your enthusiasm overwhelm your prospective clients and run the risk of driving them away. Whether you’re eager to land your first client or excited about the opportunity of a large, high-profile project, you want the prospect to be impressed by your qualifications and confidence, but avoid coming across as too aggressive, or worse, desperate.

2. Get to Know Your Client

Do your homework before meeting with a prospective client. Research their industry, business model, and target audience. If possible, talk to colleagues who have worked with or for this client in the past. And because the outcome of the project will depend as much on the relationships you forge with the people you work with, learn about the specific people you will be meeting with, including their full names, job titles, and positions within the company. Use LinkedIn to get as much background on each person as possible.

This research can help you craft a more informed, and targeted presentation and respond in a compelling way to questions the client may ask. Help to close the deal by impressing the client with your preparedness and insight like you would in a formal job interview.

3. Gather References and Recommendations

Recommendations from past clients not only serve as proof of your qualifications and experience, but they can also attest to your professionalism, reliability, and high-quality output. They can also give the prospect a glimpse into your mastery of soft skills, which make a big difference in the day-to-day interactions you’ll have on the project. Have a list of references prepared ahead of time so you can present this valuable information to prospects as soon as it is appropriate.

If you have a strong relationship with past clients, consider asking them for their permission to be contacted in addition to providing a written referral. Showing that you’ve worked for clients in the past who are willing to vouch for your ability to deliver results can be a very persuasive factor in a prospective client’s decision to engage your services.

4. Highlight Your Unique Attributes

It is important to keep in mind that you are likely not the only independent professional a prospective client is considering. Often, the experience and services of multiple consultants vying for a project may seem similar to a client, particularly to one who is not familiar with your field. To stand out from the crowd, emphasize the key qualities that make you uniquely valuable—experience, specialty, technique, or philosophy. And again, demonstrating your great soft skills can make a difference.

5. Prepare for Rejection, and Move On

There may be times when you’ve navigated the sales process gracefully, presented an ideal solution, and built a great rapport with a prospective client. And then disappointingly, an offer is not extended. This may be no fault of your own—perhaps the client’s project was canceled or postponed, or funding was cut.

While it can be frustrating and even aggravating to invest a large amount of your time and resources into an extensive and well-designed presentation for a project that never takes off, keep in mind that in these cases “no” may actually mean “not now.” Accepting the decision with graciousness, appreciation for the opportunity, and a request for future consideration could result in future business or referrals.

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