What if every first sales call lead to a proposal that was bought? How much better would your life be as a salesperson? Now, obviously, that’s never going to happen but today, let’s talk about a series of questions, that should be part of any sales training, to guide a discussion that ultimately will allow you to write a proposal that SHOULD get bought.
What Does The Future Look Like If We Succeed?
The goal is to establish the new reality picture… help them visualize a future working with you, if you do everything you say you will. This will be their nirvana picture and it may or may not be realistic.
But you don’t necessarily care… your goal here is to understand how realistic their aspiration and expectations are based on things like timeline, budget, etc. And maybe most importantly, if you and your team can actually deliver any or all of it.
What’s Stopping You From Achieving That Future?
Here you’re trying to understand what their current partner/provider is not delivering for them. Once they’ve listed that out, try and get them to define which of these things the partner is clearly aware they need to deliver and which are unspoken needs that your sales prospect may not have shared.
Yes, we always have to be cognizant that sales prospects often times feel they’re being underserved but when you probe you find out it’s because they haven’t communicated their needs or desires.
Instead, they believe their current partner should be able to read their mind. And in some cases, they’re right. But in many cases, you have to take their expectation of their current partner with a grain of salt and remember it should you begin working with them, lest you fall victim to the same issue.
Is Your Current Partner Doing Anything Right?
What are they delivering for you that you like/appreciate and hope not to lose should you change partners/providers?
Some folks will argue you shouldn’t ask this question. They feel that the question gives your sales prospect permission to remember what they like about their current partner/provider and even possibly forgive them a little bit for their missteps.
Obviously I disagree. It’s unlikely their current partner is truly going to get back in their good graces. Hell, they’re talking to you aren’t they? No, the benefit of asking far outweighs the risk.
You ask this question because it helps you understand how to frame your proposal so that you can clearly distinguish how you are the same as the current partner (reassure them they won’t lose anything by going with you) and more importantly, how you are different (all the things they want you to do but their current partner fails to accomplish).
It also ensures you’re fully aware of what you are committing to and that you can actually deliver it. In some cases that won’t be true.
For instance, Converse Digital isn’t really SEO focused. Sure we can partner, but it’s not something we’re doing or managing day-to-day. So if a potential client says how much they love their current partner’s SEO work, I know I have to craft my proposal to clearly state how we’ll handle it but more importantly, write it knowing that the prospective client is probably going to put a negative next to the SEO section.
Thus, if I want to write that proposal that will get bought, I need to make sure the other sections have so much more value than the client prospect is currently receiving or could receive from others, that my proposal still looks like the best one and thus is bought.
Along those lines, don’t just let them tell you what their current partner does well or at least delivers. Be sure to probe. Ask your sales prospect if the current partner is proactively delivering these tasks, or does the sales prospect have to ask/remind/track in order to achieve compliance/delivery.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been having this conversation with a prospective client that tells me all the things their current agency partner does well, only to realize after my follow up probe that the only reason the current agency partner does some of those things is because the client made a point to track it. If left to their own devices, the agency would likely fall short on delivery, as they used to before the client instilled tracking or reporting to ensure compliance or consistent delivery.
Needless to say, those pros quickly became cons simply because I probed and forced the client to remember.
What Does a Perfect Partnership Look Like to You?
Probe the answer to this question repeatedly and from multiple angles… make sure you understand every element of success.
For instance, if they give you a KPI, don’t just stop there… probe to understand why that particular KPI is important to them. And is it important to them the person or them the company or them the department or some combo of all of these. This is huge in my opinion. If you only know the “what” but not the “why” behind that what… your playing with one hand tied behind your back.
What Does a Perfect Partnership Feel Like to You?
Most folks skip this, probably because it’s where all the soft and fuzzy comes into play and for the most part, folks just aren’t comfortable with soft and fuzzy in a business relationship.
So they just focus on selling a deliverable or product. But, and this is especially important in the professional services world, what the relationship feels like is super important because the product is highly undefined and largely invisible.
But even if you’re selling a product, the feeling of the relationship or maybe just the purchase and customer service is your edge. Sure, a competitor can create a similar or even identical product — we even have a name for them — commodities.
But while a competitor can relatively easily copy your product, it’s harder, and some might argue impossible to copy the feeling of buying from you or your company.
The feeling might just be your differentiator when the only other one is price. And if you find yourself in a situation where price looks like the only way to win, feeling gives you an alternative to the low price strategy.
So What Makes A Winning Proposal?
Insight. Information. And maybe a wee bit of Inspiration.
But if you approach the first sales call just trying to close a transaction, you’ll never get any of the good stuff. The stuff the most successful sales people knows is the heart and soul of winning proposals and long-lasting, profit producing customer relationships.
Need Help With Your Sales Proposals?
We’d love to help… and rumor has it we’re pretty good at it. So, let’s schedule that first sales call and we’ll ask you all of the questions above and maybe a few more that we save just for ourselves 😉
Here’s the form… you know what to do next.
Till next week, Sell Greatly.