Stand Out From the Pack: 7 Reasons to Discuss Your Proposals
You had a great meeting. Met all the right people. They have budget. They want a proposal. You sharpen your pencil, write the proposal and then email it. You follow-up. Crickets. Sound familiar?
1. It’s Not You, It’s Them
You’re competing with a number of other potential suppliers, as well as with offline and online research and internal buying groups. Your prospect’s buying journey has many layers and is time sensitive.
According to Gartner research, “when B2B buyers are considering a purchase‚ they spend only 17% of that time meeting with potential suppliers. When buyers are comparing multiple suppliers‚ the amount of time spent with anyone sales rep may be only 5% or 6%.”
You have a limited amount of time to make an impact and build trust.
“Prospects expect value from salespeople during every interaction. They only want meaningful dialog that helps them with their priorities. They will not tolerate a meeting or presentation that’s one sided any longer,” writes Lisa Magnuson, Sales Strategist (www.toplinesales.com) when discussing the seismic mind shifts that need to take place when presenting to a prospect.
Take advantage of the opportunity to present your proposal and make it a dialog about the business impact and value of your solution/service. Stand out from your competition.
2. You Earned It
You’ve spent time collaborating with the account, conducting the sales discovery process and the prospect is interested in getting a proposal from you. The time spent for both you and your prospect has earned you both the right to review and discuss the proposal with key decision makers.
3. Further Response
During the discovery process, we uncover our prospect’s needs, requirements, concerns, budget, process and more. The most informed salesperson will undoubtedly find additional information with each discussion; such as a new hire, a new product launch, an acquisition, etc. During the proposal review, your recommendations may spark additional ideas or capabilities to support your prospect’s priorities. Without discussing and presenting your proposal, you may never uncover this critical information. There may also be questions that weren’t asked or answered in your discovery process.
4. Additional Opportunity
While uncovering additional responses or concerns, you may find added opportunity. When discussing your proposal during a review call/meeting, additional decisions makers may unexpectedly join the discussion. The typical buying group for a complex B2B solutions involves six to 10 decision makers, according to Gartner. This is where your company research will come into play. Understanding the company’s priorities, how it is structured and who the key decision makers are should be part of your preparation. Knowledge of these areas may open up the opportunity for you to uncover additional business.
5. Anticipate Questions
During the discovery process, you may have answered some of your prospect’s questions. Your proposal may raise further business-related questions. A discussion will enable you to answer these. It will also give you the ability to address objections, pricing, changes in scope and the time to clarify a variety of inquiries from your prospect.
6. Clarify Next Steps
A proposal discussion will give you the chance to get clarity on next steps. This will help you structure your post-proposal plan and is where you’ll learn how your prospect’s internal approval process works; what their internal next steps are; who else will be sent the proposal for review; when they’ll meet to review and discuss; and most importantly what realistic expectations you’ll have for follow-up!
7. Meeting Their Requirements
As with all of your prospect interactions, a proposal discussion will enable you to listen to their concerns and respond by restating their questions so that you confirm that you heard their question and that you do, in fact, have the solution to meet their requirements. This may be the most important aspect of writing and preparing a proposal.
Make sure to send the proposal you delivered following your discussion/presentation.
Lisa Magnuson, referenced earlier, also points out “Format of materials should amplify meeting objectives vs. defaulting to your standard format. i.e., PPT, Word artifacts, dynamic PDF, handouts, etc. Choose the best format for your prospect and the best format to encourage interaction and ensure a productive meeting for all.”
Your proposal presentation session should include high level discussion points, not all the details of the proposal. Include the business review, top line revenue, bottom line profit and customer experience impacts due to your engagement - the information that C-level decision makers need so that you get a “yes.”
How are you currently delivering business proposals? What’s worked best for you?
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Kimberly Meyers is the principal at Kimberly Meyers & Associates, a marketing consulting firm. Kimberly is a Marketing VP for hire. She develops marketing solutions based on strategic assessment of her client’s business, sales and marketing requirements. She lives by the philosophy of ensuring the appropriate message and content is delivered to the target audience – always, focusing on customer needs and satisfaction. Kimberly welcomes your connection at firstname.lastname@example.org.