There are three certainties in life. Death, Taxes and a manager asking if you’ve sent the client a proposal yet.
This unsolicited proposal behaviour is getting worse, not better with many CRM systems requiring a tick in the box for a sent proposal before it recalibrates the magic opportunity management machine.
There are two massive opportunities to differentiate, save time and give the client what they really want to make decisions.
1. Stop Offering to Send a Proposal
You’re on the the last dregs of your coffee in a meeting with a potential client and the words come out of your mouth like a boring politician ‘on message’.
‘How about I send you a proposal’
‘Sure, says the client’ . After all it’s not going to require any work on his/her part and it can be deleted faster than SnapChat if it’s not interesting.
So, there you are at 7 pm in the office, your boss proudly looking at how hard your working.
You’ve made the perfunctory call to your spouse to say you’ll be a little late and spoken to the one kid who’s there or awake about how tunnel ball was fun or how the maths teacher was too strict.
Then you get back to your ‘unsolicited proposal’. What’s in it?
Mostly, there isn’t enough diagnosis of the client’s real needs established so you default to a mix of your company overview and the fact you have $40 Billion behind you and a global presence (or at least an office in Perth).
You add five heaped tablespoons of product, a teaspoon of services, a very mild seasoning of the perceived client’s issues together with a dash of testimonials and a pinch of estimated pricing/fees.
It’s about as tailored and well fitting as a $99 suit….in microfibre.
It’s taken you three hours to do two or three of these, you’re tired and you’ve got 129 emails still banked up. But your CRM box is ticked!
The client receives this wishy washy effluent and reads a quarter of it if you’re lucky and then the tedious game of ‘Did you get the proposal?’ begins.
It’s worse than watching ‘Family Feud’.
If you’re doing any of this, please ‘STOP IT’ . Go home. Have dinner with a client or radically, even your spouse if you’re still talking to them.
NEVER ask if they would like a proposal.
If they want one, they’ll ask for it at which point please say ‘ Sure, what would you most like to see in it?’
If you really want to send them something, have a tight 5 slide/page credibility document that you can send in 1.4 seconds and set their expectations for what it is.
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2. Only Ever Write Customised Proposals Written In The Client’s Language.
If the client asks for a proposal and you’ve double checked what they want, by all means spend a bit of time and ensure :
- The Executive Summary is about what’s in it for them, not you.
- Your biggest, fattest testimonial or logo takes up a whole page.
- The language is about their people, their processes, their challenges.
- The pricing is clear and has options.
- Use pictures of their plant, equipment, locations, maps.
- You deliver it in person or over video conference( based on a size of deal you nominate).
Alternatively, they may just want a one pager or a simple quote. Yes, really.
Unlike McDonalds profit enhancing Fries Question, asking the client if they want a proposal simply wastes your time, possibly theirs and potentially your family’s.
If CRM and Sales Manager pain persists, see a doctor… or call me. I’m unlikely to send you a proposal.
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Elliot Epstein is a leading Pitch Consultant, Keynote Speaker, Corporate trainer who gets sales results rapidly. He has coached and trained high profile corporates globally in presenting, selling, negotiating and pitching. He has spoken at over 1500 conferences and workshops for leading companies such as HP, SEEK, Avaya, Hitachi , Computershare and CUB.
He is internationally renowned for ensuring sessions are creative, engaging, interactive and relevant to winning business in competitive markets.
Elliot is based in Melbourne where he lives with his wife and two expensive children.