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Sales Proposals: Are You Jumping the Gun?


Have you ever had that friend that rushes into relationships too fast going “all in” in the name of love rather than taking their time to learn about the other person?

Friend: I know it’s only been a couple of dates….but I think I love her man

Me:      Well that’s great buddy, good for you guys. What do you think about the tattoos?

            The one that says, “ready to die” seems a little aggressive don’t you think?

Friend: That’s from her old life man; she said she doesn’t want to date crime bosses any more.

Me:      She’s in a knife fighting club Brian

Friend: You don’t understand our love!

These relationships carry on for some time often times burning out as quickly as they started. They went too fast and got in too deep before they realized they were not a great fit for each other. The sales process is a lot like dating with the inking of a new deal being the glorious wedding day (minus the drunken karaoke uncle that hates wearing a shirt). In my opinion, a lot of sales people and their prospects rush through the process leading to deals not closing or closing a bad deal, which I think is even worse. I take my sales process slower than most in my industry. I think there are certain hurdles that must be cleared before you can even think about giving out a proposal.

For starters, make sure your prospect understands the difference between your deliverable and your competition’s before you put a proposal on his/her desk. My market place is very competitive. There a million firms claiming to do what we do. Truth is, the overwhelming majority do not and I have to make the prospect realize that. If I do not, I run the risk of becoming commoditized and put into a bucket that my firm shouldn’t be in. In my case, my firm’s services are usually seen as more expensive than the competition. Giving a proposal before the prospect understands the true deliverable puts me in a “cost per lead” bucket and 99% of the time I will lose that battle. However, if I take the time to go over the prospect’s needs, their market place, their close rate on qualified ops and their revenue goals, it usually comes out that the prospect will have to spend a lot less on our services to get to the desired result. In addition, the fact that I will hold off on a proposal until I know exactly what my prospect is looking for immediately sets me apart from the competition. How can I propose a solution until I know the full breadth of the problem? That would be like going to the Dr, saying that your ankle hurts, and them telling you that they are going to cut your foot off. I would prefer to go to the MD that investigates a bit before providing a solution.

Identify issues that could blow up your deal before sending a formal proposal. In sales we are taught to keep a positive attitude, which we need to prevent ourselves from jumping out of a window during lean times. That being said, make sure you ask yourself what could prevent a deal from moving forward. Some sales people do the opposite. They hand over the proposal and try to address issues after it has gone out. In my experience, it is much more difficult to handle objections after the proposal has gone out. You may have had all of your conversations with the VP of operations and all of those conversations may have gone well. But, if you don’t ask about the other people that will be viewing the proposal you will never find out that the CFO, who has to ink the check, is interested in another solution because it offers financial analysis that you also deliver, but never talked about. You could have said all the right things to your prospect only to be dead in the water because you never talked to the CFO.

These are just a couple of suggestions for the proposal happy sales executives out there. Don’t be afraid to slow down the sales process. Allow your prospect to see the full value of your solution before you ask them to marry you.


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