Why we submit almost 0-ZERO proposals and still win the business

contract sales forceTruth be told you probably don’t really care how many proposals you submit. Or maybe you do, because depending on the complexity, they may take a lot of time.  What you really care about is how many deals you will close and how much money you are going to make this quarter and this year.

Proposals are not going to get you there. Our contract sales force will tell that only closed deals will.

Once you’ve got a signed contract, you send out invoices and after some duly annoying amount of time, get a check back that will help you meet your goals.

The problem with proposals is they are all about proposing, and at times you could be placed in a bidding situation with other vendors or another contract sales force. Not good. Sorry...

Proposing is a lot about guessing what your prospect wants. You go to a sales meeting, ask a bunch of questions and somewhere near what turns out to be the end of the meeting the prospect says “Sounds good. Why don’t you send me a proposal”.

Problem is this one meeting with one person in the prospect company usually does not give you enough information to document everything you need to know — everything you need to know to put together a document that will look good to everyone that’s involved in the buying process.

Maybe it will look good to the one person you met with. Maybe you asked all the right questions at that meeting. Maybe you listened acutely and noted every nuance of every response – even though you were not focused on the goal of writing a proposal when you went into the meeting.  Ok Maybe?

But even then, what about the 3-20 other people that are involved in the buying process? If this is a larger sale, those that were not there will not be able to voice an opinion. How do you know what they want? How do you know what they would want to see in this document?

You need to talk to them. You need to ask them questions. You need to record their answers. They may not all agree on the content of the document. Ask initially, who else will be involved in the decision making process.

You can’t get rid of writing documents entirely from the sales process but when you write them realize they don’t have to be proposals. Proposals in the traditional way are largely a guess.

When you develop documents, understand their context. Develop a short document with that first buyer.  Keep your time investment down. Use outlines. Develop documents that are a few pages long. Documents that don’t require a day’s investment. If you can “template” some of the work to be used multiple times, do that.

Have your prospect’s colleagues add details/change the document. Get it “co-authored” as much as possible. Get you buyers involved in writing it. Get them to take ownership. Make it their baby.

And when you're confident enough people have seen, touched it and approved it, you can finally write a longer document…a contract.

Share that everyone at the prospect account has agreed to a statement of work. Attach it to your usual legal language and you have a contract. Return it to your buyer to be signed.

Think twice about submitting proposals. Take this advice from a top contract sales force, qualify the prospects, get all the information needed, and get buy-in from all decision makers, then submit.

Back to work.


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