This post is part of an 8-part series on the steps of the sales process.  Click here to see the full series.

Proposing a Solution – The Fifth Step of the Sales Process

Simply put, proposing a solution means that you suggest something that your prospective customer might buy and tell them the price for it.

The problems that come – and which can be avoided – at the time a solution is proposed relate to what happened before the proposal is made.

Too many salespeople make one of three critical errors when writing a proposal, or even a simple price quotation:

Problem number one is giving a proposal to the wrong people
You should never give a proposal to someone until you have completed the step of Qualification – that they have a need, have a budget and have the authority to decide.  If you fail to do this before giving the proposal, you are destined to hear about at least one of these problems after you deliver it, and you have wasted the time to prepare it as well as the opportunity to successfully close that you had at the beginning of the sales process.

Problem number two is giving the proposal without enough information
Many salespeople simply don’t do a thorough enough job in Needs Analysis. They don’t ask enough questions, make too many assumptions, and then go write a proposal about what they think the client needs. A better approach is to write a proposal about a solution that the client thinks they need. This is the approach that was discussed in the section in this blog series on Needs Analysis. Not doing that part well will result in a proposal that the client doesn’t care about, which is very hard to sell.

Problem number three is expecting the proposal to move the sales process along
Problem number three is related to problem two but is slightly different. This is not self-explanatory, so let’s dig into this a little bit.

Many salespeople who make the mistakes in problems one and two try to make up for it in the proposal itself.  They may or may not do this consciously, but that question is for another time.  The outcome is the same either way, and it revolves around the idea that the proposal is going to be so well written, or convincing, or beautiful or whatever that the customer will be convinced to buy after reading it.

This mindset is a killer.  It will kill your possibility of success, or at best make getting there harder.  The easiest and surest way to make sure that customers will buy is to make sure that they are convinced to do so BEFORE you give them the proposal.  This requires asking the questions you need to ask when you are with them, rather than saving your brilliance for the psychological safety that lies behind your computer.  The computer might be more comforting, but it is much less effective at getting your deal closed – the most effective tool is you and your questions – so ask them!

The proposal should not offer anything new, only what you have already agreed on with the prospect, and what you agreed on should be enough to close the deal.  When you are Qualifying and doing Needs Analysis, you need to make sure that the person you are talking to:

  • Has a problem that needs solving (an element of Qualification)
  • Has the money to solve it (Qualification)
  • Has the authority to decide (Qualification)
  • And has told you enough about the problem and the solution that will fix it that you can reach an agreement about what that is before you start to write the proposal (Needs Analysis)

When you do these four things and reach an agreement before writing the proposal, you solve all three of the problems listed above that kill the chances of proposals to survive.  Taking this approach effectively answers the objections before they are asked, but we will save that for the next topic – Objections.

Please click on the following links for more information about Proposing the Solution or this link for the full list of topics in this 8-part series on the sales process.



Hi, I’m David Masover. With nearly three decades of B2B sales experience, I work as a private practice Sales Force Development Consultant. I help company leaders understand the root causes of sales issues that keep revenue from growing as fast as it could, and to fix those problems through work with reps, managers, systems, processes, strategies, and tools. You can learn more about me and my work and/or get in touch with me here at my web site or on LinkedIn at