On one of Tuesday's inner circle calls a client asked about proposals:
"Proposals are taking up a lot of my time, is there anything I can do to speed up the process?"
My advice was simple.
Stop doing proposals!
Here are 7 reasons why:
1. Your prospect is never going to be as "hot" for your solution as they are at the end of your consultative sales call. Anything that delays the sale reduces response.
2. Doing a proposal is a false positive. You accept a "maybe" (that you usually perceive as a soft yes), when what you really want is a hard yes or no. The best clients make quick decisions and move forward with certainty.
3. The moment you send a proposal you've handed control of the interaction to the client. You're now in the weak position of having to "follow up" and chase them. Always remember YOU are the prize.
4. Good proposals are hard work. Working for free is a chump's game.
5. A proposal is a safety net that lets you avoid asking for money and potentially getting rejected. This often has flow on effects and other parts of the sales call -- such as value-building, risk reversal, and emotional commitment -- are not done effectively. You end up half-selling them and then hoping the proposal will close the deal. Then you wonder why they go cold and never get back to you.
6. Nothing you put in a proposal is going to sell the client more effectively than what you've said in person. Strike while the iron is hot.
7. Once you've invested hours in a proposal for a prospect you've signalled your interest in them and subtly hinted you need their business. You've handed the power to them and created sales resistance where it didn't exist before.
So what do you do instead?
You can make a proposal verbally.
"I propose to solve X problem for you with Y solution in Z timeframe for $$$$$ price."
Now, there are cases where the problem is more complex than usual and you need to go away and research / diagnose / think about the solution. In these cases you want to charge for your diagnostic work, just like an accountant charges for an audit.
Clients won't start valuing your time until you show them you value it yourself.