This is an excerpt from my second book, Managing the Sales Process, available on Amazon.com. You can find a series of these excerpts in a dedicated blog category to get a broad overview, post-by-post, of the book (they are listed in reverse order in the category, so start with the oldest).
From Chapter 2 – The Right Skills: Writing Proposals
I’m not going to write a lot about the skills involved in offering a solution, only because in a sense it is the part of the process most dependent on the other parts. If a prospective client is well-qualified and the needs analysis is done correctly, the proposal will be laser-focused on a specific high priority need that the client has, will be within the budget, and will be presented to a decision-maker.
If the needs analysis uncovered all of the concerns that the client might have, and the proposal has incorporated those concerns prior to presentation, then handling objections, negotiations, and closing will be quite simple.
If a salesperson does everything else well, presenting the solution will be a formality ─ the summary of the steps prior to presentation and the ticket to a smooth ride afterward. Preparing the proposal itself certainly requires excellent written and verbal communication skills as well as an awareness of how much information is enough and how much is too much. Those issues are beyond the scope of this book, but suffice it to say, a good salesperson makes himself or herself capable of preparing a good proposal by the work that is done beforehand.
Poor salespeople, on the other hand, do a poor job in qualification and needs analysis and try to make up for it by spending too much time writing up the “perfect proposal” with the idea that it will be so brilliant that the client can’t help but buy. In other words, while excellent written and verbal communications skills are important, they are the vehicle, not the message. When the right information is neglected, the vehicle alone won’t reach the goal. If your salespeople or prospective salespeople take this approach, it is costing you and them a fortune and they need to be reoriented as soon as possible.
If you use the sales process tracking methodology mapped out later in this book, determining if your existing salespeople are falling short in their proposals is easy. With salespeople you are considering for employment, ask them to walk you through the needs analysis and proposal phase of the sales process. Ideally, they will tell you that the proposal is a formality, not something they work on extensively. If they brag to you about the quality of their proposals rather than the conversion rate, ask about that rate and what they could do to improve it. You want to make sure that you hire someone who will ask the questions that need to be asked in needs analysis, not make guesses and assumptions to be worked out only after the proposal is prepared, submitted, and reviewed.
Authors note (AKA shameless plugs)
So, this 7-step sales process and associated topics…. Yup, I write about that a lot. I’ve been working with it since I developed it about 25 years ago – in my own diverse work experiences, with my teams when I had them, and with clients ever since.
If you would like to develop you own personalized and customized, highly effective and efficient B2B selling system, here are some further steps you can take:
The Salesman’s Guide to Dating is a free or very cheap (depending on Amazon) Kindle book that walks you through the sales process using the familiar analogy of dating. It’s a good, fun and quick way to get your mind around the whole process and how the pieces fit together.
Building Your Sales Process (BYSP) is a free and very thorough exploration of the same 7-step process that will walk you through the development of your own customized, personal B2B selling system. When you are done, you will know exactly what to do to get new business.
The Momentum Selling System® is an inexpensive but very robust online sales training course that is similar to BYSP, but goes deeper into the concepts behind each of the steps, and also helps you develop a plan not only for the 7-step process but also addresses mindset, repeat business and client base management.
If none of that sounds right, I do personal coaching and offer a free 30-minute intake session so that we can both learn if it makes sense to work together 1-on-1. If this sounds interesting, click over to the coaching page on this site and sign up for the free session.
Here’s to your success!