Published by : Paul E. Lafleur
Proposing too early. The scenario is easy to imagine, having surely gone through this yourself.
The hunt had finally paid off and you’d secured an appointment with a prospect. You were new to the game, and so you didn’t quite know how to control your emotions and you probably had a high need for approval. You found yourself in front of this person who had shown interest in hearing you out.
You were asking open-ended questions and getting ready to begin the sales process, when, suddenly, the prospect interjected, saying they must cut the meeting short, and how about emailing them a proposal? You sent them a proposal, because, as we mentioned, you were new to this.
What was in that proposal, anyway ?
You’ve given them what they’ve asked for. But what have you actually sent them ? You haven’t had the time to find out enough about them to send a thorough proposal.
The reason a proposal should only come very late in the sales process is because in the beginning, you don’t really have a clue what your prospect’s issues are. You haven’t revealed the compelling reasons to buy yet. You haven’t asked the good and right questions which provide this knowledge.
Once you revealed your prospect’s compelling reasons to buy through open-ended questions, you must now make sure the prospect understands the offer you’re putting on the table. It’s an investment they’ll be making towards solving a problem and bring them closer to the achievement of their compelling reason.
Just say NO
Let’s back it up a little. Your prospect has asked for an early proposal. Before investing yourself, you must first ascertain if this is a form of rejection. Is the prospect trying to get rid of you ?
If it’s a brush off, dust yourself off and move on.
When it isn’t a case of rejection, the appropriate response is to simply confront the client, head on. “ Sure, I can send you a proposal, I’d be happy to. But first I have a few more questions I must ask you. It’s important I do to fully understand what I need to include in your proposal. ” This approach won’t usually get much pushback.
It’s not just a rookie mistake
The urge to send a proposal too early in the sales process may seem beyond what a senior salesperson would do, however, another element comes into play... Laziness.
Though it entails a major lack of foresight, salespeople who are lazy by nature live by the shoot and pray doctrine. They’ll send 25 proposals out and see who gets back to them. They’ll certainly get a few hits, but the meat of the matter is yet to come.
As Dave Kurlan says, “ Go slow to sell faster ! ” If you’re lazy in the sales process, ultimately you happen to be working harder. When you take the time to truly understand your client, to be consultative, when you ask the open-ended questions and have revealed the issues which really matter, you will go faster at the tail end !
Doing it the right way is when you can afford to get lazy. Because if you’re good at being consultative, at selling value and qualifying, and you present at the right moment, to the right people, closing happens by itself.
In established processes, the proposal comes after the prospect has committed to buy. It’s basically putting on paper what’s been promised verbally. Guaranteeing the relationship, in other words.
The prospect might try to fast track the process, but it’s important for the salesperson to take control. In the end, going through each and every step ensures a thorough and complete proposal will find its way to the client.