When someone asks you for a proposal, what do you do?

How do you react?

Do you get excited because you’ve made it to the next stage in the sale?

And then do you go back and bang out a great proposal that elaborates on all the wonderful capabilities that you have to give your prospective customer?

Why I Hate Sales Proposals

I hate it when someone asks me for a sales proposal.

One reason I dislike this is because it usually means that the person who asked for it cannot make a decision.

Another reason is that proposals are a lot of work.

These days I rarely do proposals.

You see prospects know that if they just ask, most all salespeople will happily produce a proposal.

So they ask multiple vendors for proposals.

3 Reasons Why Sales Prospects Ask for Sales Proposals

And they do this for three reasons:

  1. They want to compare prices and terms.
  2. They want documentation to prove to their bosses that they are doing a “good job”.
  3. They need a document to help them internally sell the vendor they like to other influencers and decision-makers that they work with or for.

Most proposals are done to fulfill reasons 1 and 2.

They are comparing prices and terms, and they are creating butt-covering-paper-trails that show they did their diligence before making a decision.

Of these reasons, the only one I want to participate in is number 3.

Make Them Sell You on Doing a Sales Proposal

Here’s what I recommend you do when asked for a proposal:

Ask them if they are going to purchase from you.

But don’t say it like a pushy salesman.

Instead say with a reaction of some surprise “I’m a bit confused. Does this mean you are ready to purchase from me?”

And almost certainly they’ll say “No”.

And most of your prospects will be surprised that you asked this question.

They are used to salespeople running back to their offices and getting them a proposal just a like a puppy dog who’s been thrown a stick.

Instead, when you ask them if they are going to purchase from you, you are signaling that you are in control, and that you are not going to jump at any request that they ask for.

And you can use this opportunity to probe further and find out where you stack up versus your competition.

If you are told that you are being given “fair and equal consideration, the same as all other vendors”, you should know right then and there that you are NOT in the lead.

Because if you were in the lead, someone would be telling you and helping you win.

Use the “are you ready to purchase from me” question to flush out where you stand in the deals that you got into late after your competition.

Presume that your competition is in the lead, and make the prospect sell you on why you should expend more effort to sell to them.

Don’t give a proposal until either you have an inside champion helping you and showing you how to win, and save the proposal work as a final step before entering into any closing negotiations.

Sell with Pride

Shameless Shamus Brown