Writing sales proposals is tough, time-consuming work. The average sales proposal takes roughly 2 hours. If you’re using some smart proposal software, you can get it down to 15 or 20 minutes.
But that’s all pointless if the proposal doesn’t close. Here are the four reasons that it’s possible that a majority of your sales proposals are not closing – and it doesn’t have to be that way.
Product and service-driven companies can get proposal close rates as high as 50-60%, but to do it, they typically do four things differently.
1. Suss out any hidden economic decision-makers by using a 48 or 72-hour window:
When you’re selling to another business, there are typically between 4 and 14 different decision-makers involved in the process. Often, one of them, usually the most important one, will be withheld from the sales professional until the last minute.
To make sure that this does not happen, use this proposal device from Allan Weiss’ Million Dollar Consulting Proposals. Simply let the “coach” (your main contact on the client side) know that your team’s proposals have either a 48 or 72-hour window. Then, ask the prospect if they’d prefer to receive the proposal on one of three different dates.
Often, the prospect will say, “Oh, Bob’s out of town that week.” The sales professional thinks “Who’s Bob?”
That means that Bob is an economic decision-maker that the sales professional hasn’t spoken to, and this sale will likely not close without his direct input.
2. Make Sure Prospective Customer Co-Edits The statement of work (SOW) as a Team:
One of the greatest things about Google Docs or Microsoft OneDrive for Business is that you can not only collaborate on documents, but you can tell who collaborated on what. If you’re selling to a team of 4 to 14 different prospects, then you will want to verify that as many of them as possible collaborated with you on the statement of work document.
If there are 4 to 14 different decision-makers on the project, and your statement of work is missing input from a majority of them, then it’s definitely not time to write a proposal.
3. Find out the key concerns of technical buyers before speaking to them:
Technical buyers (think “I.T. director”) are interesting to work with. They can often say “no” to a deal, but have limited power to move a deal forward. So that you won’t be blindsided by their technical objections, before writing a proposal (or even meeting with technical buyers), ask the more senior contacts a question like, “From your experience on projects like this in the past, what have been the biggest problems for your technical team? Do you know what risks they’re trying to mitigate”?
That way, you can address technical objections BEFORE the proposal, not in it.
4. Never, ever mistake the “coach” for the Economic Decision Maker:
This one is probably the most serious mistake made by sales professionals in the first 5 years of their career. The mistake is simple, but deadly. Generally speaking, a sales professional’s main contact on a deal is not the person that will be making the economic decision, but instead the person who influences the other decision makers.
You read that right – your main contact is almost never, ever the economic decision-maker. If you go into every proposal knowing this, then your close rate will almost always be higher.
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