Just send me a proposal…

Has anyone ever said that to you? Have you ever invested hours or even days putting together a detailed proposal, only to find it impossible to get through to your prospect on the telephone again but are graciously given unlimited access to their voicemail and never having your calls returned?

Do you think that sometimes your prospect has sent your excellent proposal to one of your competitors with a request to see if they can do it for a lower price?

When I ask these questions at a Sales Master Class, at least seventy five percent of hands are raised, so I am assuming you too may have a similar challenge from time to time. If you do, it is probably because you have not taken at least equal control of the sales process and maybe the following 5 step process will help. This obviously needs to be carried out in a spirit of total collaboration and not confrontation…

Step 1
If your prospect requests a proposal, invest as much time as is necessary  questioning them to ascertain precisely what it is they would like to see in that proposal. If they cannot or will not go into any detail, you should consider carefully whether they are really interested in receiving one or if it is just an easy way for them to terminate the telephone call or meeting.

Step 2
Having established what the proposal should contain, you should then ask what is the latest date by which they would like to receive the proposal. If there is no time limit given, again I would consider carefully whether they are really interested in receiving one and whether or not you should spend a considerable amount of time preparing one.

Step 3
If a deadline is given, you should then question whether that is indeed the latest date or if you can have a few more days to ensure you give it your most detailed attention. The more realistic the actual deadline and the more interested they are in what you are proposing, the less time they are likely to have to send out your proposal to a competitor.

Step 4
Having established that latest date, you should then ask them how long they need to review your proposal. If the response is opened ended, for example they say when they can make the time for it, again I would consider carefully whether they are really interested in receiving it. The answer you should be looking for if there is a genuine interest should be between one and three days at the most, otherwise either the deadline was incorrect or there is possibly little or no interest. This could of course be longer if the proposal is very lengthy and detailed and others need to be involved in reviewing it

Step 5
Having established the review period, agree and diarise a date and time for another appointment or telephone call and use the following script or a variation of this that you are most comfortable with.  It should go something like this…

Thank you, so I will call you on Monday at 3.30 pm and here is what I would like to happen (name). I’d like you to either tell me that you have reviewed my proposal and have decided it is definitely not for you in which case I would not follow up again, or that you are interested and have a few questions or, ideally that you have reviewed it, like it very much and are intending to go ahead. Are you OK with that (name)?

The go ahead could be finalising the sale or moving on to the next stage in the selling / buying process.

If you cannot get an agreement to those terms, you should again question whether they are really interested in receiving a proposal and whether or not you should spend time preparing one.

Again, I should remind you that these steps obviously need to be carried out in a spirit of collaboration and not confrontation and if you follow this process, your gut feeling will soon tell you whether or not you are making an investment of your time or wasting it preparing a proposal.


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