Do you find that you or your sales team rely on presentations and proposals to fill the pipeline? Let’s face it, preparing proposals and presentations use a lot of your valuable resources and have hidden costs which affect your bottom line that include:
- Distraction from sales goals. Companies and prospects who ask for proposals and presentations have probably already decided who they are going to buy from and are just fulfilling some requirement established by upper management. Sales reps become so focused on jumping through these hoops; they miss out on other opportunities to get appointments with qualified prospects.
- Risk of giving away intellectual property in efforts of explaining how your solution can solve their problem. Sadly, we have many clients who have confessed that they lost the bid only to learn that their solution was built “in-house.”
- Risk of cutting your margins. Your price is based on the value you provide. If you cut your price, value goes with it. How competitive will you be if you lose on value?
- Letting the buyer control the sales process. This is the ultimate Sandler Training “NO-NO” without a prequalification process. Don’t follow your customers; lead them instead.
Here is our recommendation when you are asked to provide a proposal or presentation on a sales call -- set some expectations around what the outcomes will be.
Just because the prospect asks you for a presentation or proposal does not mean they should get it. You need to find out why they are asking for it and what will happen once they get it. Chances are they want to compare it to other proposals or perhaps they are not the decision maker and they need to share it with others before any sort of decision can be made. Your job as a salesperson is to ask questions leading up to the reason a proposal would be presented. You do so by using the 'let's pretend' concept - that is, 'let's pretend the presentation or proposal meets all your requirements, what happens next?' In the event a proposal is presented, it would focus only on those aspects which address the prospect's concerns.
The statistics suggest that most salespeople provide presentations or proposals because they believe it is the only way of ensuring their 'chance' of being considered as the supplier of choice rather than because it is a successful method of winning business. I ask my clients to track the number of proposals written, the amount of time spent preparing them, the number of people involved against the number won. Unfortunately, the number of proposals prepared versus the number won is very different. How many opportunities have you let go by because you felt the need to provide proposals? If you find yourself, preparing for presentations, do the same exercise and track the outcomes. You may have to exert more effort into prospecting, but in the long run, you'll get more business.
Remember, not every prospect is meant to be a customer. As a salesperson you have as much right to determine the fit and whether it makes sense to do business with the prospect as they do with you.
Our most successful clients tell us that having a system for selling in place helps them win these legitimate requests and eliminates the prospects who will waste time and energy.
Would you like more tips on what you should do when asked to present a proposal or presentation?. Click here or call 202-577-4387 to speak to a Sandler Training sales coach.