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Have you ever considered that a single staple may be keeping you from your goal to increase sales?


Being in sales means that you must continually meet new individuals.

As you separate the qualified prospects from the suspects and then build those critical relationships, you may eventually have to deliver a proposal or what I prefer to call a statement of work.

The day has arrived to deliver your sales proposal. Fortunately, you have avoided the often-used request of sending the proposal via email.

This request unless it is a formal Request for Proposal (RFP) is a sure way not to increase sales.

As you sit down with your future customer (always think positive), you hand her your stapled 3 to the 5-page proposal. And what does the prospect do?

Usually, she immediately turns to the last page to find the price. Years of conditioning have created a belief system in that the price is on the last page.

This belief drives the action of turning to that page and delivers the results that she wants and not necessarily the results that you want.

What would happen if you lost the staple? Instead of stapling the pages, you hand each page, one page at a time to your future customer.

Then you explain each page and secure agreement before giving to her the next page.

Since I have adopted this behavior, I have yet to lose a statement of work.

What I have learned to do (thanks to the advice of an incredible mentor and coach, Ray Overdorff) is to position myself entirely differently.

As I sit down with my future client,  I explain to him or her that our meeting will take the agreed 30 minutes.

The first question that I ask is, “Has anything significantly happened between our last meeting and today’s meeting that may affect what we previously discussed?”

I wait for the response.

If the response is No, then I proceed in sharing the first page.

If the response is Yes, I ask for additional clarification to ensure that I have included all the necessary facts within my statement of work.

My future client receives the first page and we review it beginning with his or her situation that was previously discussed.

Then I briefly explain the approach that I take to improve the situation be it, for example, customer service.

At the bottom of the first page, I discuss the value that my services bring to the table. Before I share the second page, I ask these three questions:

Have I correctly and succinctly identified your challenges?

Have I missed any problems that you are currently facing?

Do you have any questions about my approach or value?

After any discussion and further clarification to ensure agreement,  I then pass out the second page. On this page are the following:

  • Recommendations
  • Deliverables
  • Assumptions
  • Return on Investment

Again, the same process is followed. I make sure I have an agreement before I pass out my final and third page that contains:

  • Investment
  • Payment Terms
  • Signature Lines

As previously, the same process is completed.

I explain the investment and then wait for agreement. Silence during this time is absolutely golden especially if your prospect is thinking about his or her actions.

For me, usually, the silence is less than one minute.

After an agreement, my final question is “Great, where do we begin?” or “Great, what is the next step?”

By losing the staple, I have dramatically increased sales because I have retained control of the sales presentation process.

Additionally, I am consistently told that my proposals are the most thorough and succinct proposals that the prospects have ever read.

This bodes well given that I want three referrals from each new client.

On several occasions, I have received referrals from new clients before I actually begin work with them because of how I present my statement of work.

When you staple your presentation, you have directly handed control of the meeting to your future client.

Maybe that works for you, but from my 30 plus years in sales, I have found that it does not work for me.  Simply speaking, the bottom line is to save your staples if you want to increase sales. 

About the author

Leanne Hoagland-Smith

Leanne Hoagland-Smith

Leanne Hoagland-Smith has over 25 years in sales. Her true joy is selling and…

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