Business groupI’ve seen far too many sales proposals, and I’ll admit 90% of them are a waste.

Reason is simple: We don’t take the time to do them right.

Reason we don’t take the time is we’re too busy scrambling to get them out, as we feel it’s what the customer wants.

What gives us the right to think that what we’re sending the customer is what they want? Think about that for a moment and ask yourself when was the last time you actually asked a customer what they want?

More than likely, you can’t remember. I hate to say it, but I can’t either.

This leads me back to my original point. Who is the proposal for?

This is going to be painful, but I’m going to say too many proposals are designed for the salesperson and not the customer.  We all used to laugh at the expression, “Death by PowerPoint,” but maybe what we have today is “death by proposal.”

My beef with proposals starts with the language used in them.

Far too often salespeople include words or phrases like synergy, vertical integration, seamless execution, feedback mechanisms, and operational benchmarks, to name but a few.

Come on! Let’s get real. Why do we include these things? We do because we’re afraid if we don’t we won’t get the deal. This is as old school as the person giving a speech, feeling it is necessary to have so much text in a PowerPoint slide that nobody can read it, but then saying “I know you can’t read it.”

My response: Stupid!

The objective of the proposal is going to vary based on who you’re presenting it to and what they are going to do with it. This proves the fact we can’t have one standard proposal format for every customer.

We need to become far more prudent in developing presentations that are developed from the customer’s perspective, not ours.   To do this means we now have to ask the customer the following questions before we develop anything

What will you need to see from us to make a decision?

Are there certain things you need to see from us to help you with any next steps?

Answer those two questions and you will help make it easy for the customer.

Just as the capabilities presentation has gone away, I think it’s about time we do away with the capabilities proposal too many of us (me included) have been using.

Copyright 2015, Mark Hunter “The Sales Hunter.” Sales Motivation Blog. Mark Hunter is the author of High-Profit Selling: Win the Sale Without Compromising on Price.

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High-Profit Selling

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