In today’s new “Re-set economy” you can’t afford to be like everyone else. You can’t look, act, talk, walk, speak or even smell like the other guys. Does your proposal have an executive summary, a recap of the benefits of ownership and a projected return on the buyer’s investment? Does your proposal look like the other guys quote? Do you know what your competitor’s quotes look like? If not, you’d better find out.
There was a lively conversation with a client of mine recently. During our session the VP of Sales for this particular company made the following comment; “I don’t know why we even send quotes. Our quotes make us look like everybody else. Remember back in the day we used to send proposals”? I propose you STOP sending quotes. The word “Quote” has become so mainstream in nearly every sales cycle we can’t seem to help ourselves. It’s really just a bigger word for this one; Bid. A different word for this one; Price. It’s also a word used in place of this conversation: Buyer: “What’s your price”? You: “My price is X.”
A meeting with a potential buyer too often ends with the following weak close… “Thank you for your time today Mr. Customer, I’ll get you a quote in the next (insert timeline here).” Many sales people feel a sense of accomplishment having gotten that far in the sales cycle. They feel they have done their job!
It really doesn’t matter if your quote is cleverly disguised in an email attachment. A PDF, PowerPoint, Word or Excel document. If it looks like, reads like or seems like a quote, it’s just a price. The word quote is so transaction based it’s a waste for a true sales professional to even have it in their personal lexicon. A quote. Another word for price. As in “Here’s my price.” No value, no extras, no subtle nuance. Nothing more—just a price. Another quote from another ordinary, garden variety, sales person. So vanilla that all things being equal the buyer is left to make their decision based on the lowest price. Is it yours? Are you going to quote your way to success, or become the low price leader?
Proposal. Now there’s a word with some GUTS. Guts as in; “I proposed to my wife. I didn’t quote her.” Guts as in; “Mr. Customer, based on my understanding of what you’re trying to accomplish, here is what I propose. Here are the benefits of ownership and the return on your investment”. A statement like that, a winning statement, is going to show some commitment, some guts, and has a far better chance of being taken seriously—a better chance of being given some real consideration. So, we have two totally different words with different meanings yet we’ve allowed them to become interchangeable.
Dollarize as many points as you can. Far too often proposals get treated like quotes and bids because the buyer jumps to the end. Eager to get to the “Bottom line” a buyer will go to the price page and just compare it to all the other quotes and bids without the benefit of considering the return on investment. You have to assign a dollar value to as many of the main points of your proposal as you can. If the total return is greater than the total investment you have a shot. In today’s new “Re-set economy” you can’t afford to be like everyone else. You can’t look, act, talk, walk, speak or even smell like the other guys. Does your proposal have an executive summary, a recap of the benefits of ownership and a projected return on the buyer’s investment? Does your proposal look like the other guys quote? Do you know what your competitor’s quotes look like? If not, you’d better find out.
3 Ideas to Increase Your Odds:
1. Present it in person This can be tough, but nothing beats a live meeting to present your proposal and value proposition. If your client is anywhere near your local geography you should hand deliver your proposal. Position yourself to make the presentation at the close of the last meeting you have. A statement like “Mr. Customer, I’ll have a proposal ready for your consideration by (insert date or time line), when would be the best time to present it to you”? Yes—many purchasing agents insist on an email and you can send it electronically AFTER you hand deliver a hard copy.
As a side note, if you can deliver and review your proposal in person don’t give them the entire proposal at once. If you do there will be no stopping them from jumping to the end. Instead give it to them a page at a time.
2. Call the buyer before you email it If you can’t present in person get the buyer to open your proposal while you have them on the phone. “Mr. Customer, are you near your computer? I ‘m ready to send the proposal and I would like to go over three very important points with you”. This is your opportunity to reinforce the value. Review the points and dollarize them before you get to the price.
3. Have FedEx help you If you can’t hand deliver and getting them on the phone for a real time review doesn’t work, have FedEx give you a hand. Have a hard copy of your proposal delivered to your prospect and use their tracking system to know when it’s arrived. Once you know it’s been delivered make your call. “Mr. Customer, I see our proposal has been delivered I would like to spend just a few minutes reviewing a couple of very important points”.
Bonus idea So none of the tactics above is working? What if in addition to your emailed proposal you included a short video link, via YouTube, along with your proposal. A video of you recapping your proposal, dollarizing the main points, showing the product, or a testimonial from one of your valued customers who’s used the same product or service. One thing’s for sure, if done well, the buyer will probably talk about it. I guess they would talk about it if it were done poorly too. What do you think they will say if you just send them another quote?
I’m just sayin’…. feel free to QUOTE me!
About the author
Les Lent is a Sales Trainer, Coach, Consultant, and holds 20 years experience as…