I found myself standing in the middle of a hotel corridor recently, ironing a shirt for the following day’s meeting. “We can’t send an iron to your room, sir. Health and safety,” the reception staff had explained.
Clearly, the real reason was different, but “We didn’t want to spend the money on buying irons and ironing boards / can’t be bothered with the hassle of delivering and collecting them / would rather you paid to use our laundry’s pressing service” all sound a little less customer-friendly. (This hotel wouldn’t budge on its policy, either, unlike the resort I visited in the summer who were persuaded by my promise that, “I spend a couple of hundred nights a year in hotels and haven’t burnt one down yet”!).
It struck me that lying to customers seems institutionalised in the hotel trade. Aside from the iron issue, there’s “Check in time is 3pm, and rooms aren’t ready before then”. (One pictures their housekeeping staff sitting around all day, then working like crazy from 2.50pm to 2.59pm to clean all the rooms vacated the night before). Or there’s “Help save the planet – re-use your towels and laundry” – a.k.a. “Help increase our profits…”
So I wondered whether we proposal folks do the same. Covering letters assure the customer of your company’s enthusiasm for their exciting project – “we want your money” is so unsubtle. They’re signed by your CEO – who’s been “personally involved in preparing our proposal”. Well, if signing the covering letter isn’t personal involvement, what is?
Proposals show that the team have “studied your specification in detail and crafted a tailored solution designed to meet your needs” – rather than “we’ve read through the RFP, and here’s the standard service offering”. For tricky requirements, “we’ll run a workshop as part of the project initiation phase to finalise our approach” (so much better than “your requirements are far too ill-defined” / “we don’t have a clue how to do this”).
Your “very best” team will be allocated to work on the project. (Funny how they’ll be working on so many other projects as well at the same time). And the pricing? The “maximum discount” you can offer, truly “best in class” – just as best in class, in fact, as the price in the proposal you sent in to the last customer a couple of days ago…
Other suggestions welcomed – just click the comments button and leave your thoughts!