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Guiding the Proposal Process


If you were making a dress you’d use a pattern. If you were building a table you’d follow a set of plans. The design of a building requires blueprints. Why would you use these resources?

Because it guarantees that what you expect in the end follows a proven path and it’s easy for others to follow and duplicate. Preparing a successful meal can be done by most people if you simply do what others have already achieved. You don’t have reinvent the wheel. You can follow all the basics and simply adapt it. That’s probably how raisin bran muffins started. Do your salespeople follow your company sales template? If they don’t, do they know what you expect, how the customer is approached, and the big question is how does the process get managed?

When making a presentation, it should follow the process that you used when you were selling. The typical elements of a selling template include some bonding and rapport, an agreement for the next steps, an understanding of the problem the prospect has, having the money conversation to establish the budget available, and understanding how and who is involved in the decision. Are these elements in your sales proposal? What other details are needed to ensure that a full solution is developed?

During your due diligence you were a keen observer of the prospect’s communication preferences. Were they direct, analytical, systematic, and interpersonal? How is what you observed about their style reflected in your proposal? We know that people take in, store, and recall information in a specific way. If they were a strong auditory, does your proposal include examples of what you’ve done for other customers or testimonials. How would you alter it if they were more auditory or kinesthetic? All relationships demand communication intersection. Your presentation should reflect this. After all, you are a professional communicator.

When your salespeople uncovered the prospect’s problems was it mostly about what they needed or were there elements of why they needed it and how it was affecting them personally? If your proposal doesn’t include these things in detail you’re relying on the prospect to remember and they frankly are busy and need to be reminded in detail. People buy for their reasons (the problems) not your reasons (the solution). If you’re having only an intellectual exchange you’ll miss the emotional elements that are typically the reason for making decisions. Your proposal should refer to the emotional reasons for their decision.

The proposal should also confirm the budget range they are comfortable with to complete the agreement. You need to confirm this or be prepared to fall into the buyer’s money trap. Ensure that after they see your solution that you don’t run into the classic negotiating objection that sounds like, “that’s more than I budgeted for.” Objection prevention is critical unless you just like making presentations for the practice.

Finally, what and who can stop this process? Ensure that every stakeholder in the company who has any say in the decision selection is covered in the proposal. Go ‘deep and wide’ in the organization. The result of not doing this is having your contact thrilled with what you present, but others saying it doesn’t fit for reasons you were unaware of. By the way, when this happens it’s your fault not theirs.

The devil is in the details. It’s your job to ensure the path is clear and executed flawlessly. You must be a heat seeking missile for information; information that formulates your solution and is related through your sales template.