This guest post was authored by John Katsaros. He is a principal partner of the Internet Research Group, a leading market research and consulting company based in Silicon Valley. He is the author of “Selling High Tech” and co-author of “Getting it Right the First Time.”
If it Moves, Quote It
If there is one thing I’ve learned over the years it is the value of a proposal. When I was new to sales I was taught an “old school” idea which was to immediately give a prospect a proposal (or sales quote) as the first step toward getting an order.
For a seller, an ideal “early proposal” lets you accomplish multiple objectives:
1. Develop a better understanding of what you’re proposing and how it fits the customer’s requirements;
2. Put your solution in perspective for the customer with regard to features, competition and price;
3. Create a value proposition that has meaning to the customer;
4. Elicit feedback from the prospect on your solution that will help you improve your chances of getting an order.
Even though there is little chance that your prospect will buy based on an early proposal, it is still worth the time to sketch out what you do and how you can help and put it in their hands. Don’t fall into the trap of believing that there is no chance of getting an order with an early proposal. You never know what might happen next. It is worth the time to sketch out what you do that can be of help. You never know.
I once had a sales situation that was really hopeless. Not only was the prospect disinterested in what we did, they were downright hostile. In fact, they were benchmarking my competitor’s product without even giving us the opportunity to benchmark our solution (and we were the market leader). Despite the hostile environment I still drafted a proposal and delivered it to them.
The prospect had tremendous potential so we proposed an innovative solution and did a detailed job of identifying the value they would receive from our system and quantifying the savings that would result. We submitted the proposal but nothing happened. Given the situation we didn’t really expect a response. But then one day a few weeks later I got a call that a completely new management team had taken over at the prospect and they wanted to see us ASAP.
As it turned out the new team that took over were in a hurry to get going with a new solution that would provide the benefits, value and savings they required. The only proposal they had in hand was from me. We ended up with a signed contract five days later.
An early proposal is a great way to qualify your better prospects. As Andy stated in his blog article “Price and Prejudice,” qualification is the process of reaching a preliminary agreement with the customer that the value you offer is worth the amount of money they will pay you. What better vehicle to accomplish this than a quick preliminary proposal that defines benefits, value and price for the prospect? And, it may very well lead to an order.
I’m not advocating that you should invest a lot of time and money quoting every opportunity that you encounter. But it is certainly true that “the more you quote, the more you’ll win.”