Any experienced business development person follows a sales process. In general, it’s pretty common for an organization to have a recommended way of doing things and individual salespeople make modifications to that process to make that process fit them. In simple terms, a sales process is a systematic approach involving a series of steps that enable the sales team to close more deals, increase margins and make more sales through referrals or inbound marketing. Depending upon the type of thing that you’re selling, the buy cycle and organizational layers that a prospect might go through your sales cycle may have 3 distinct phases or 9. It’s variable. So, not even every B2B sale requires a proposal, but some do.
What does a good proposal look like?
Most people wouldn’t propose marriage on a first date, you shouldn’t propose a long-term business relationship at first sight either. Take your time. Vet each other out through conversation and active engagement. Gather enough information so that you and your team are adequately prepared to step in and take action. You don’t do your team justice if you aren’t setting them up for success with ample context. You won’t do you prospect justice if you haven’t qualified the situation intensely enough such that you can make the right assessment. Once you’ve collected the details, pain points and sticky spots THEN you’re able to formulate a relevant, mutually beneficial plan of attack.
At this point, a documented proposal isn’t the only factor that the prospect is weighing, but it does contribute. Your documentation should dress the part.
Is what you’ve presented indicative of the brand experience that they’ll get?
Does it highlight relevant examples?
Does it flow in a logical, conversational order?
Do you allow for breathing room to ask questions and engage?
Is the proposal focused on their experience or yours? Both are important, but you must demonstrate how the factors work together. Sales 101: people buy the benefits, the solutions to their problems. They’re buying the band-aid that you know how to make. Demonstrate that you know where the pain is and how you’ve helped others to solve the same ailments.
Recapping never hurts. Encourage them to share why and how you’ve arrived at the presentation stage. Gain commitment to what happens next. You and your prospect should be on the same page concerning the deliverables, budget, timeline, and commitment to solve before you’ve stepped into the proposal stage. Now, there should be no surprises; rather an affirmation that you’re both on the same page. If there are doubts about whether or not you’re the right choice, encourage those doubts to be voiced and tackle them head-on. There is no time like the present.
If the prospect says, “Where can I sign?” The worst thing you can do is delay that decision, or make it harder than it needs to be. Make your proposal a mutually binding contract or fight for the ability to spin up the contract in-person digitally. The less complicated you can make your contracting process the easier time you’ll have to cross the closing finish line.
Aren’t sure that your sales team has the tools to execute a proper proposal? Let us know. We’re happy to design something custom for your team. Or, check out a service like Xtensio or Canva (above) which enables even non-designers to create, manage and present more thoughtful proposals.