This was a short article I had written for the Contact Jong Bedrijven Rotterdam newsletter in which I reviewed the workshop "Klantegerichte Offertes Schrijven" which I attended on June 12th. In a somehwat comical and (hopefully) original way, I attempted to mix up English and Dutch idioms and expressions in order to make the article more appealing (and/or distracting). So as not to confuse the reader too much, I have "italicized" the Dutch words. Just place your mouse cursor over these words to see the translation into English. By "offer" I mean a said "quotation" for a given amount of work to be done.
--- KORT EN BONDIG IS NOT ENOUGH ---
As an American setting up his business in Holland, I was curious what the workshop "Offertes Schrijven" had to offer. You see, by nature Americans think they know it better, that they are the best at everything. I was pleasantly surprised during this gezellige avond to learn that the Dutch approach is net zo goed − if not better. Americans have a lot to learn. The Dutch weten precies what they are doing, and they do it pretty darn good: simpel, bondig en pakkend, met persoonlijke aandacht.
Take the wonderful "kunst der offertes" for instance...
Writing a half-decent offerte is veel moeilijker than you might expect. We aren't talking about your plain-vanilla offertes. You know, where a bunch of numbers and figures result in a totale prijs, alstublieft meneer klant de koning. We mean a pakkende, professionele offerte which completely bowls over the potential customer. One look at it and he chooses you right away, zonder twijfel. Een goede offerte is erg belangrijk, maar niet zo gemakkelijk te bedenken.
With much enthusiasm and spunk, Suzanne Meijles of ProTaal gave us an excellent avondcursus "Klantgerichte Offertes Schrijven" as part of the now famous CJB Rotterdam Workshop series. De opkomst was fantastisch! I counted more than 20 jonge ondernemers of various ages, backgrounds and areas of expertise. There was much to share. Met interactieve oefeningen, Suzanne helped us be brutal with heated kritiek, but she also guided us in a professional, stylish way to exchange courteous ideas and learn from each other. Dit is de ware kracht van de CJB Rotterdam Workshop series.
For some reason, one easily forgets how important a good offerte becomes. Often we hate doing it and put it off until the last possible minute. Zo veel tijd en energie has already been spent leading up to this important moment. So when you think about it logically, why not crown your efforts with a masterpiece of creativity, really make it happen, and with gusto?
That is exactly what we learned to do during the workshop. Je moet in de schoenen van de klant staan in order to understand him better. The price is not always the most important issue. Stijl, uiterlijk en presentatie can become the true success factors.
Here are just a few of the (honderden) hints and tips that we picked up:
- Klanten hebben geen "problemen" maar "behoeftes."
- Vermijd een telegramstijl en gebruik de actieve vorm.
- Gebruik koppen om de aandacht te trekken.
- Clichés vermijden ("naar aanleiding van ons gesprek...").
- Toon enthusiasm and don't be embarrassed to show off (een beetje).
- Probeer je voor te stellen wat de lezer weet en hoe hij denkt.
- Toon respect voor de lezer!
The workshop was not about discovering the secrets to writing de perfecte offerte. In fact, there is NO such thing as de perfecte offerte, and there is no ONE way to create offertes. The most important message from the workshop, I think, is that writing offertes can be lots of fun if you do them right! By seeing it as a kreatief proces, like writing a book or an entertaining article, a way of expressing your business in a colorful and convincing way, you greatly increase your chances at catching de grote vis die de klant heet. Getting rich was never that easy, anyway.
I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I had fun writing it.