This is an excerpt from my second book, Managing the Sales Process, available on 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 4 – Metrics around proposals

If there is one part of the sales process that usually is tracked in most organizations it is proposals, or quotes. This makes perfect sense. If a proposal or quote has been given to a prospect, then whatever has happened up to that point has brought the process to an inflection point between closing a deal and not. While it certainly is important to track this information, it is only somewhat useful without the metrics around the earlier stages of the process to refer to.

The only real data that needs to be captured around most quotes and proposals is

  • Who it was sent to


  • When it was sent


  • What was the product or service


  • What was the value of the deal


  • When is a decision or feedback expect from the client


  • What and when is the next step


  • What was the outcome (won or lost)


  • When was the outcome determined

What this can tell us when used with the earlier stages of the process can be very useful management diagnostic tools.

For example, as discussed previously, if a lead is tracked through to the proposal stage, it can be determined which of the lead sources (including which current clients) tend to generate proposals, which generate the largest proposals, which generate the proposals most likely to be won, etc.

It is also advisable to track what prospecting methods seem most effective in generating larger and/or more frequent and/or more successful proposals. It may be that trade show connections yield larger proposals and those that are more likely to be closed than connections from cold calling; or even that one trade show is more effective than another. However, with deeper analysis, it may turn out that while our trade show leads ask for and consummate bigger proposals, the ROI per proposal or total revenue is greater with cold calling because more people can be contacted at a much lower cost and in a much shorter amount of time. Whatever decision is to be made based on this information is for your company to decide, but tracking this information is the only way to make adequately informed decisions about it.

With respect to managing the salesperson individually, it is important to look at the interval between the time a proposal is delivered to the client and the time it is closed. Discovering for a single salesperson or across many salespeople the factors that drive quicker closing proposals can accelerate the growth of your business. Most business people seem to agree that the longer a proposal is outstanding the less likely it is to close. It can be highly fruitful to identify which proposals close quickly and to dig to understand why, then make the elements that led to the quicker close part of sales best practices. Comparing the ratio of proposals outstanding to the ratio of closed proposals also can help identify problems early in the sales cycle for an individual salesperson who is lacking in qualification and/or needs analysis.

And finally, the raw number of proposals, especially when low, can indicate a lack of early prospecting activity or a failure on the part of the salesperson to establish enough rapport with the prospect to warrant the steps that lead to a quote or proposal.

What happens with the proposal will lead to all of these possible diagnostics, but they can only be deeply and thoroughly analyzed if the steps beforehand are identified, measured, and incorporated into useful ratios with other pieces of data gathered from the consistent execution of the sales process.


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!