I don't do proposals - I do contracts. Jeffrey Mayer
In some sales organisations, a vast range of resources are used up writing offers, yet the conversion rate from offer to order is so low that the company can be called a “offer-producing company.”
I consider the act of writing offers a formal part of the selling process – a confirmation of what the customer wants to buy, when s/he has decided to make a purchase.
Many people but in a lot of effort generating leads, booking meetings, and hosting meetings and presentations, only to use up resources writing up a big offer, distributing it to the customers, and seeing no return on the investment.
The situation worsens when the seller receives a direct request from a possible customer for an offer, which describes exactly what the customer wants the offer on.
At this point, many sellers will start writing offers, but I would never do that. Instead, I would call – not email – the customer. I would pick up the phone and speak to the involved party. In this way, I make it possible to affect the preferences of the customer, understand his/her motivation, wishes, and goals, as well as find out if there’s any chance that the offer will be converted into an order. I don’t want to waste my time.
I would call and say something like: “Thank you for your request, we have started working on an offer for you. I just have some clarifying questions in order for it to be possible to create the right offer for you. Do you have time?”
Chances are that the answer will be “Yes”, in which case I would have the following questions answered. (You don’t need to ask them the exact same way, but the questions you want to ask are as follows):
1. What are your criteria when making the final decision?
2. How do you prioritise these criteria?
3. What is your budget for this project?
4. How important a factor is the price?
5. How many people have been invited to bid on the project?
6. What do you want to achieve through this project?
7. What do you wish to avoid with this project?
If the answers the first question point in the direction of the solution that you’re selling, consider broadening the conversation to your own advantage:
8. Ask the customer if s/he would accept a small exception from the defined requirements. In this way, you will be able to see where you and your company are placed on the customer’s wish list.
9. Try to affect the preferences of the customer by asking questions that activate needs and focus on your unique sales pitches. Find out how to do this using our CORE tools.
10. Finishing the test: “If we live up to your demands and wishes, will you choose us?”
With these answers in mind, you can decide whether or not writing up the offer is worth it, both in terms of your time and the resources available to you.
At the same time, you’ve increased your chances of landing the order.