Don’t Waste Time On Over-Customization

Creating custom proposals for every single prospect you meet with can result in time delays, risking the chances of you closing the deal. While you’re building a custom proposal, your competitors are offering better deals or unexpected business issues are emerging that could stall or kill your deal. Using existing templates can help mitigate this risk and will help you to avoid deal-killing delays and close deals faster.

Key Takeaways

  • Customizing every proposal for each prospect can lead to time delays and jeopardize the deal.
  • Time between a prospect’s interest and a custom presentation increases the risk of losing the deal.
  • Understanding the prospect’s budget and needs is crucial for presenting appropriate proposals.
  • Giving prospects additional time to think may result in other business problems surfacing.
  • Delays in presenting a proposal can lead to competitors offering better deals or unforeseen circumstances arising.
  • Customizing proposals using existing templates can help avoid time lapses and close deals quickly.
  • Keeping a few template proposals at hand allows for on-the-spot customization during meetings with prospects.
  • Building the proposal immediately after a meeting— or even better, in front of the prospect — creates a sense of personal attention and urgency.

While we want each prospect to feel special and unique, customizing every proposal sets a seller on a dangerous path.

The problem with devising custom solutions for each prospect is the potential time lapse between the customer showing interest and the seller presenting a plan.

When a prospect has decided to move forward, it is imperative that the seller present a plan for signature right away.

But how do you do that if you’ve just explained to the prospect that every solution is unique to the prospect’s circumstances?

Custom Proposals Take Time

Custom proposals take time, and the time lapse between an initial meeting and a presentation puts a seller in jeopardy of losing the deal.

A seller needs to understand that someone with less money to spend doesn’t need a whiz-bang proposal with a Powerpoint deck set to music.

When a prospect with a limited budget has just reacted to your passionate storytelling and has made an emotional decision to buy, you can’t give that prospect additional time to think about the logic behind their spending.

When you do, you run the risk of other, possibly more pressing, business problems surfacing.

Time Kills Deals, Not Bad Luck

When time elapses between a prospect’s initial enthusiastic response and a seller’s custom presentation, the prospect often says they can’t move forward because they must deal with something random like a broken water heater. You might think that is just bad luck.

Well, it’s not. It’s predictable. A broken water heater is just analogous with all the possible scenarios that could play out in the few days that pass between your prospect’s ‘yes’ and their signature.

What if one of your competitors walks in with an amazing package deal? What if a key decision maker quits to take a new job? What if your prospect’s spouse tells them about a friend who wasted a ton of money on a similar purchase?

Not only could any one of these things happen, but they are also very likely to happen. Time kills deals, it’s that simple.

So, what can you do? How can you give your prospects the personal attention that they expect and deserve and still avoid deal-killing delays?

Customize From An Existing Template

Customizing proposals based on a template can help you avoid a time lapse and close the deal more quickly – in fact, on the spot.

Think about it. There are probably less than a handful of options for your prospects within their price range.

So, with three different proposals on hand to use as templates, you can easily create a customized proposal when you’re with the prospect.

Here’s how it works:

Keep three proposals with you that hit a typical range of price points or options. The next time you are in front of a prospect who says, ‘work me up something for $2500’, you can say something like this:

“Absolutely. Although all our solutions are customized, I just recently worked on a $2500 schedule for another business. Although it may not be exactly right for you, I’d like to show it to you so you can get some idea of what we’d be doing.”

Then, you pull out the $2500 schedule and customize it right in front of them. Once you’ve gone over it, you get him to sign the paper and promise you’ll deliver a more formal version later.

Build The Proposal Before You Leave

Many years after learning this lesson from my mentor, Dick Harlow, I had the opportunity to consult the sales department of a large HVAC company in Atlanta.

The sales technicians at this company responded to leads that were generated online and through phone calls. Their process included going to the home of the prospect, doing an inspection of the existing HVAC unit, asking a bunch of questions about the prospect’s perceived needs, and then building a custom solution.

Each technician had their own system for what happened between the time of the inspection and the presentation of the solution. The most successful ones asked if it was okay to sit at the kitchen table and create a plan based on their observations.

Use Urgency To Your Advantage

They were rarely turned down because by the time a homeowner calls an HVAC company there is an urgent problem. Homeowners want to solve HVAC problems quickly because it directly impacts their comfort.

Asking for a seat in the kitchen not only allowed the salesperson to finish the proposal while still in the house, but it also made the salesperson a welcomed guest in the prospect’s home. Only welcomed guests sit in the kitchen.

The least successful sales technicians informed the prospect they would go back to the office and work up a custom solution and email them the proposal in a couple of days.

Faster Proposals, Faster Close Rate

Since almost all homeowners called two to three HVAC providers, this time lapse allowed competitors to present their plans first. A homeowner will typically choose an acceptable plan right on the spot and won’t necessarily wait for all the bids.

I advised the sales manager to train all the sales technicians to use their iPad to create solutions, and to do it while they were still at the house.

Using an electronic proposal-building system allowed the sales manager, while seated at his desk, to instantly see proposals that were being created in the field, and to approve them without any delay. This one small change improved sales by 12% in a year. Not bad for a company already generating several million dollars in revenue.

Sales Gravy University is where salespeople go to hone their sales skills and achieve higher performance. Take our courses on delivering effective proposals to learn how you can improve your presentation skills so you never have to leave your deals to chance.

About the author

Tim Rohrer

After a 20-year career in broadcast sales, Tim J.M. Rohrer wrote a book, Sales Lessons…

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