Three Reasons We
Lose Sales Despite
Our Perfect Proposals
Ever have that perfect first meeting where everything clicked?
You did your homework.
Laid out your questions.
Found the prospect’s pain.
And the rapport was so natural you felt you have known this prospect for years.
Optimistic, you return with your proposal within a few days. Your solution matches the prospect’s issues perfectly. He’s pleased with the price, and even offers positive feedback on your servicing capabilities.
So far, so good. Then, suddenly, he wants to think about it and talk over the proposal with “others” you’ve not yet met.
Weeks drag by. Worse yet, the prospect stops returning your calls. Sound familiar?
Early in my career, I went through this unwelcomed maze, only to end up lost and frustrated. In my consulting practice today, clients often share their frustrations over the disappearing acts of prospects.
The why of it is simple: No solid strategy for managing the prospect relationship.
So let’s take a closer look at our all-too-familiar situation and pin down how to achieve a winning result.
Remember, you focused on the prospect’s issues.
You did your homework in advance, something I stress in the MERGE process.
But there was so much left to do.
You choose to submit the proposal anyway.
Cover All Bases
- Who’s the Competition?
You did not know that an incumbent stood on the sidelines with arms folded. So the prospect could easily stay with his status quo provider. He could easily resolve his issue with internal resources. Or he could decide to spend the money you propose saving him on his incumbent or another competitor.
Did we develop our strategy around this?
Did we ask the right questions to uncover potential issues?
- Who are the Buying Influences?
- Please describe the buying process.
- When the decision is made, whose budget will the funds come from?
- Is there anyone who can veto this proposal?
- Is there anyone at a senior level that we need approval from?
- After you give your OK, how does the final decision process work?
Did you invest time to learn who else will weigh in and who makes the final decision? In a complex sale, no one person plays all the roles on the decision stage. Several people will review your solution from a technical standpoint, an application standpoint, a profitability standpoint.
One of the quickest ways to lose your proposal to the round file is to overlook the full group of buying influences, what they want out of the deal, and how they measure a personal win.
Questions to ask:
While we could stop here—failure to ask is the glaring mistake in our hypothetical—however, let’s go on.
- What’s the Next Positive Action?
Our fictitious sales person failed to get the prospect to commit to a positive action that would keep him warm and involved. No wonder. He allowed his inside contact to hand over the proposal to the prospect without further engagement.
Instead, he should have asked for a follow-up meeting with the prospect and/or the other buying influences. What’s more, salespeople typically ask the prospect what the next step should be. Not good. Change your approach and ask the prospect to do something to show he/she wants the process to move forward using simple language:
Mr. Prospect, can we arrange a meeting next week to bring (other buying influences) up to date on where we are and to get their input. How does Tuesday or Wednesday look for you?
Mr. Prospect, when can you send me the data we discussed so that I can more fully evaluate your situation. May I expect it by Monday?
Over 25 years, my practice evolved and so did my strategies. Eventually, I learned to tailor the right strategic approach to prospect situations using the tools of Strategic Selling and Conceptual Selling®.
With these tools, I now build solid strategies to win or quickly determine the risk of loss, so I can walk away early without wasting valuable time.
Ultimately, perfection probably doesn’t exist. Unless it’s a newborn’s face. Or a star-studded night sky.
As human beings, we are all perfectly imperfect. And so are our proposals.
Don’t submit your proposal so quickly. Give yourself ample time to always cover your informational bases long before you submit your proposal.
Ask the right questions.
Ask the questions behind the questions.
Know that you know.
Then, submit away.
You’ll be amazed at the improvement in your closing ratio.
See you on the upside, Bill