How to protect yourself against unseen enemy
The meeting ended with smiles and handshakes but next day you learned truth. You had lost deal.
What went wrong?
One possibility is your proposal. Most of us are pretty good at selling. We do it face to face. We do it over phone. Some of us are even fairly talented at selling in letters. But how many of us sell in our proposals?
Sell in proposals? You might have heard me lecture that proposals should contain no surprises and that they should summarize agreement that was already reached by parties. So where does selling come in? It comes in with hidden buyer….
Every sales person is trained to map out customers’ buying process and make sure they know every person who will be influencing this deal. You ask all right questions of all right people. You double check what one person says against others. You ask other reps to tell you who was involved in their deals. You’re covered.
The hidden buyer lurks in any large company and many small ones. This is person who has given team you are working with “full authority” to cut deal and write check. This person said that there was no reason to get them involved. They are master delegators. Except when they change their mind or when team decides that they would like this person to “give it one last look” before they sign. At that moment, only sales person in room is your proposal.
How scared are you now?
Pull out one of your recent proposals and let’s see what’s in there. If it is to stand on it’s own, it must contain following sections:
Summary of need – The customer must be confident that you understand their problem. They must know that you are both starting from same place and that you understand how they got there so you won’t dig them deeper into same hole. This section says, “I heard you, I understood you, I believe you” to customer.
1. Statement of Objectives
The customer wants to know what you are going to do and that it is same list that you proposed in your meetings. They want a check list to measure your work against and something that begins to justify your price. This is first concrete evidence that client can see that gives them hope in a better future.
2. Task List or Methodologies
This is path to future and shows client how you will connect their need with their objectives. It is answer to question, “What are you planning to do” and needs to be clear enough to help client build faith in your ability to deliver.
3. Measures of Success
How will they know when you have succeeded? How will they measure improvement? What can they see, count, measure? The easier it is for client to see result, easier it is to sell deal. If you can’t measure it, you can’t sell it.
4. Relevant Experience
You need to show that you have done this before and that it’s like falling off a log for you and your company to accomplish this or help client reach their goals. The more specific better, for example: “We have helped 15 pharmaceutical companies increase sales by an average of over 15% in first year of our programs.” Think of this as your marketing kit and reference letters digested down to a few sentences.