A while back I was invited to speak at the annual sales kick off meeting of a Major Financial institution in the country. The morning of my talk I was in early enough to share breakfast with about 450 sales people, while they went on to listen to the CEO Talk about “The Journey so far” address. After that it was my turn.
As I sat quietly sipping one more cup of coffee, and gathering my thoughts, a young man came into the waiting room I was and walked straight to me and said “you’re late for the meeting”.
“No Sir”, I replied. I am the next speaker, so in a way I’m early. What about you?”
“Oh, I’ll like to be, but I’m waiting for my driver. Had to dash off to close a deal.”
My eyebrows went up. “Congratulations. Must be an Important deal.”
“It is” he said. “It’s worth about half a billion Naira(about $4 Million). But before you get the wrong Idea I am not selling anything. I’m buying. I am the Country Vice Manager in charge of investments, and I have to go sign some papers to bring this deal to a closure.”
I was scrambling for my business card, in case he had any money left over, when he asked me, “What is the subject of your talk?”
“Sales proposals. How to write them.”
Suddenly he grabbed the seat closest to me and pleaded “Listen, you tell our sales force, that If the produce the kind of proposals I get, I’ll get them fired!
There are many today who think a proposal should be a bunch of Product sheets, Line Item pricing, boilerplates (copying/downloading a sample template and filling in the gaps), and bragging. There’s no ROI, no calculation of the total cost of ownership, no analysis of the payback, nothing anyone can use to make an INFORMED decision!
So, what should you note in delivering an effective sales proposal?
- Effective proposals are built from a combination of content and insight. You must have something worthwhile to say, and you must say it in a way that shows customers that it’s relevant to them. That is not as hard as it sounds but if you make the effort you will differentiate yourself from your competitors in a way that creates a dramatic and positive effect on the customer.
- Effective sales people do not deliver one message over and over. They do no treat a customer as a demographic unit. They engage in conversations, they listen, and they view customers as individuals. They create proposals that communicates clearly and specifically to those individuals.
- They leverage and emphasis testimonies of others who have taken the same route as the prospects and how such were rewarded.
- They sell on Value and not Price.
If you provide the right information, in the right way, one that corresponds to the process your customers make decisions, your chances of winning businesses will soar. And after all, winning business is what writing proposals is all about.