When you travel a great deal, as both Jon and I do, the little things mean a lot. As an example, doing something like 200+ nights a year away from home and staying in hotel rooms a little thing like having a bathrobe takes on greater importance.
Likewise, what might seem like a small thing, in this case, about 6” of leg room, became a big thing on a flight I took recently. (Bear in mind that I average somewhere around 150K+ air miles a year and as you can imagine, that’s a lot of time with my butt in an uncomfortable seat.) This particular flight was between smaller cities and on a small plane that had a capacity of about 80 people.
When I boarded the plane, I took my assigned seat and as expected, the space between seats was very limited and as the saying goes, “I could have used a bit of salt for my knees.” My assigned seat was 2C, one row behind the bulkhead which also happened to be an exit row. I was eyeing the row in front of me, with all that extra legroom, hoping that it might be empty and that I could change seats once everyone was on board. When the flight attendant closed the door, indicating that everyone was on board, there were only about 20 or so of us on the flight, the row in front of me was empty and I changed seats.
The flight attendant came over and informed me in a very stern tone that I wasn’t allowed to change my seat. When I asked why she said, “Because I’ve already taken my headcount and I can’t have you move.” (As she said this she was holding in her hand the paper on which she had done the headcount). I then asked, in a manner I thought was very polite, if it wasn’t possible to change the paperwork. With a very stern expression and in a rather aggressive tone (as in “You don’t want me to call the authorities do you?”) she said, “Sir, you will have to sit in your assigned seat.”
So I sat in my assigned seat, knees in mouth and didn’t say anything further. Had I been allowed to move, I would have been only slightly less uncomfortable but I would have appreciated that little bit extra and the overall experience would have been a positive one. Instead, I resented how I was treated and felt that whether I was comfortable was not important to this flight attendant or by association the airlines.
So, what’s the connection to proposals? It’s this. A proposal is an opportunity to satisfy requests made by the client; Even, and perhaps especially requests that might seem very minor and which are not implicitly stated.
When considering what you need to offer, are you paying attention to what your client is requesting and if so, are you satisfying that request? Is there something they want and that you could provide but aren’t because, like the flight attendant, you haven’t recognized the client’s request, don’t consider it important enough or you aren’t willingness or able to navigate a company policy or rule?
I would point out that I haven’t mentioned that this was a US Air flight between Chattanooga and Charlotte and that, based on this incident, in the future I will avoid using this carrier and would strongly suggest to others that they do as well. I’m just not the type to leverage the incredible power of the internet and the information age to let others know of such things in order to try to make the world a slightly nicer place.