“Thank-you that all sounds good. Would you send me a proposal?”
As a business developer when you hear those words, you’re pretty happy.
Usually it signifies that you’re close to the finish line.
However for lots of people those words carry a little warning.
There’s still a lot of work to do, and it could be all for nought.
How do you make sure your proposal stands out and is read?
Most importantly your client takes action and takes action now?
How do you make sure you don’t waste your time?
(we cover this in our Sales Training Workshops)
Here are a few principles and ideas for you to increase your success rate.
Often salespeople withhold prices until the proposal. Don’t. It should confirm in writing everything you’ve discussed, in one document that can be acted upon. The selling job should have been done. If it hasn’t then you must “Present” your proposal not send it. You should not be using the proposal to make the business case to your buyer. Go back in and talk it through face to face.
In most of the cases that we meet in our sales training this is the key “failure-point” in the selling process. Every sales trainer will always tell you that you have to present to the board of directors… That sounds great and we’d encourage you to try but in our experience it very rarely happens. So at this key point in the sales process the trained sales person hands over to the untrained buyer. You must pass the baton to your buyer. With your proposal in hand, your buyer must now do the selling. They will have to go and get the necessary internal approvals to move forward with the project.
Now you understand the idea of passing the baton you need to change the nature of your proposal. Up until now you’ve developed a pretty good relationship with your buyer. However you are not going to send your proposal to your buyer. You are going to give it to them, they in turn are going to sell it to the Decision Making Unit. At this point try to make sure that your buyer and you understand how the approval process works. From now on you work alongside your buyer. They are your channel partner and route to the DMU.
Think about what you’re really proposing. Please don’t get hung up your credentials. You have to stay focused on the results your buyer wants from you. How will what you do improve their performance? Far too many proposals begin with, “ABC Company is pleased to submit this proposal… ” As a test to see.. is your proposal more them focused or you focused, count up how many times do you mention your company name and theirs in your proposal
Remember, it is highly unlikely you will be present when the final decision is made. People who you have never met you will decide your fate. Your value must now be represented by your proposal.
Making business growth happen by extracting value from investments is what management is all about. They have to try to work with business cases that contain objective, compelling and effective information. This kind of information allows them to choose the projects with the best financial returns for their companies.
We hope you now realise that your project isn’t just competing with your competitors… It has to compete with everything else on the companies wish list, new office furniture, buildings maintenance, computer systems etc etc Your case, does therefore, have to speak to the decision makers in their language.
A good business case provides answers to five simple to ask questions: What is the business pain point? What are we proposing to do? What will be doing differently from project go-live onwards? How much is the investment going to be worth? What metrics do we use in order to make the investment measurable?
Firstly use your experience (they are buying this too!) and make reasonable and educated assumptions. You may have some factual data. (e.g., number of employees). You may have to make assumptions in other areas. Make the assumptions clear. Talk about a “best-case” and a “worst-case” scenario.
Make it easy for your non sales trained , internal representative to justify the operational impact (cause and effect). Make it clear how it may affect the company’s performance. For any given Benefit something will change to indicate improvement. What is it? That’s the KPI you suggest. With the KPI the executives will have the ability to measure the progress of any implemented initiative.
If the investment is not made, what could happen to the company’s bottom line? Could the company lose customers? Or market share? Could some future costs be avoided if the investment is made today?
Even if your project has a high ROI, it may not move if the proposed solution does not align with the company’s strategic goals.
Let us know… How does your proposal process stack up with the above? We are always looking for example compelling business cases to share in training sessions . If you think yours is a good example please send it to us. firstname.lastname@example.org We suggest you change any of your customer names to the ABC company first though. ?