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The QA Pharm

Operations

Selling Your Proposal

Make it simple and direct

Published: Wednesday, March 18, 2020 - 12:00

Have you ever wondered why the sales and marketing departments walk out of the boardroom with a bag full of money after they made their pitch, but board members only see you and your quality unit presentation as the bearer of bad news?

I have seen it too many times to count. The quality unit has a legitimate business-impacting proposal that is worthy of serious consideration, but the presentation of their proposal takes the listener into an unfamiliar world and is unable to make the business connection.

Perhaps effective communication is a core competency of the sales and marketing departments, while the quality unit relies on the tired arguments of regulatory requirements and the threat of an FDA Form 483.

Don’t get me wrong. Compliance with regulatory requirements is the price of admission into the pharma industry. But that is no reason for putting very little effort into selling your proposal in a way that is compelling—or swamping the boardroom with a 20-page PowerPoint presentation of endless detail and data.

One underlying principle for making a compelling case to management is to make it simple and direct. In fact, the higher the level of management the simpler and more direct it needs to be.

Here are a few points to consider when developing a proposal:

1. The general purpose of any proposal is to persuade the readers to do something.

2. Make the reader understands that the solution is practical and appropriate.

3. Build the case by demonstration of logic and reason in the approach taken in the solution.

4. Facts must lead logically and inevitably to the conclusion and/or the solution presented.

5. Evidence should be given in a descending order of importance, beginning with the most important evidence and ending with the least important.

6. Any questions the reader might pose should be anticipated and answered in a way that reflects the position of your proposal.

7. Consider all sides of the argument—providing other alternative solutions to the problem, but showing how the one chosen is superior to the others included.

8. Answer questions about what you are proposing, how you plan to do it, when you plan to do it, and how much it will cost.

9. Ascertain the level of knowledge that your audience possesses and take the positions of all your readers into account.

10. Use the materials and language to appeal to the technical level of the reader. Be concise and direct.

Now, how to structure your proposal

Consider structuring your proposal using the SPIN method. This method is based on SPIN Selling by Neil Rackham. The SPIN acronym stands for situation, problem, implication, and need.

Here is a simple poster that illustrates using the SPIN approach. Use it not only to structure your next proposal, but give this to your the next staffer that brings you a problem without thinking through how best to address it. 

Remember, your added value is your insight to resolving the problem, not just escalating problems to the next level. The same goes for those who report to you.

Hope this helps!

First published Feb. 24, 2020, on The QA Pharm.

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About The Author

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The QA Pharm

The QA Pharm is a service of John Snyder & Co. Inc., provider of consulting services to FDA-regulated companies to build quality management systems and develop corrective actions that address regulatory compliance observations and communication strategies to protect against enforcement action. John E. Snyder worked at the lab bench, on the management board, and as an observer of the pharmaceutical industry for more than 30 years. His posts on The QA Pharm blog are straight talk about the challenges faced by company management and internal quality professionals. Synder is the author of Murder for Diversion (Jacob Blake Pharma Mystery Series Book 1).