Last week we kicked off a series highlighting costly Sales Fails from leading edge sales trainers and consultants around the country. With so much experience coaching, training and in the fields, my mastermind group of Women Sales Pros had plenty of examples to contribute.
In the last post, we highlighted the #SalesFail many reps are guilty of, “Hiding behind email”. Using email as a catchall for sales activity is a mistake costing you plenty of opportunities and even sales.
“I would say, STOP preparing a cost proposal just because they asked. It’s easy for anyone to ask for a cost proposal, however proposals take time and effort and you need to use your time wisely. Ensure the potential buyer is willing to spend the right amount of time allowing you to do proper discovery since you do not want be column fodder. You can always provide a cost range for your products and services to ensure the buyer’s budget matches your ideal client profile before wasting too much time.”
Did that advice surprise you or make say, “But they asked for a proposal”?
Going back to my days as a sales rep, I think about how excited I would get and how eagerly I would prepare a proposal, assuming that because they asked, my buyer was in the consideration phase with me and moving forward in their buying process.
However, so many of those proposals that were really “too early” in the relationship went absolutely nowhere. Many times, the customer didn’t even want to meet to review the proposal, they wanted me to send it over for them “to consider” – which really meant it would be deleted shortly.
Not only was that a lot of time and energy wasted on creating and carefully crafting those proposals, I actually prevented those relationships with potential customers from progressing. By not objecting or pushing back to the request for pricing or proposals, I allowed myself to be moved to the “commodity” bucket to be compared apples to apples – in their own estimation.
Without the benefit of further exploring the customers’ challenges, resources, infrastructure, talent, et cetera – you can’t offer insights to your solution, your commitment or your successes.
Next time your prospective buyer suggests “Just send me a proposal” – push back and ask your buyer one of these questions –
- What answers are you seeking to understand through a proposal?
- How would this proposal help you move towards your decision?
- Can we discuss some of your challenges further to help me create the best solution for you?
- Can I get some input from some of your other stakeholders to make sure my proposal and recommendations take everyone’s needs in to account.
Next time you’re rushed to create and send a proposal, pump the brakes. See how much time you buy back and how much more responsive your prospective customers are to your proposals.
Until next time, stop hoping, start SELLING!
Big thanks to Janice Mars for helping to stop this common sales fail. Janice is one of my fantastic Women Sales Pros colleagues. With more than 30 years of experience helping companies build successful sales and service teams in the software and services industry, Janice has implemented sales programs that have helped firms improve their sales processes, accurately forecast revenues, maximize the use of resources, ensure focus on winnable opportunities, and work deals efficiently and effectively through the sales cycle.