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The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

How to Craft a Proposal that Won’t Get Rejected

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"The end depends on the beginning (and everything in between)."

Yes, we have heard this a thousand times, but no truer words have been said when it comes to developing proposals. I had an epiphany pretty early in my sales career. I had been on a sales call to a restaurant, and they asked for a proposal. I rushed back to my desk so excited with the opportunity to get to present, only to stare at my computer for what seemed like an eternity. Crafting that proposal took a lot longer than it should have.

Later, when looking back, I realized it was because I didn’t have enough information. I had missed the mark on a number of things. Here's a little advice on how not to make the same mistake.

Topics: Proposal Sales

Close More Deals and Build Long-term Customers Using a No-surprise Proposal

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Surprises are fun when they are part of a birthday; not so much when they are involved in selling. Salespeople should do their due diligence to minimize surprises during the sales process, especially when presenting and closing proposals.

Salespeople can improve their closing ratio and improve customer results using a no-surprise proposal (NSP) technique by clarifying these five things before they build and present a proposal:

Topics: Proposal Sales

10 Tips for Creating PowerPoint Presentations That Don’t Put Prospects to Sleep

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Slide presentations are supposed to help salespeople make sales. However, if they are poorly designed, slide presentations can drive sales away. A slow-moving, confusing, lackluster and lengthy PowerPoint is hard to endure — buyers will assume if they buy anything from you, they’ll be in for more of the same as long as the relationship continues.

On the other hand, an engaging and enlightening PowerPoint establishes you as efficient, expert, and tuned in to the customer’s needs. In other words, it will bring you closer to a sale. Here are 10 ways to make your presentations stand above the competition. 

Topics: Proposal Sales

Five Ways to Avoid Proposals That Are Beautiful, Boilerplate, and Boring

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In today’s sales world, it’s apparent that most companies have mastered PowerPoint or Prezi to compose absolutely gorgeous proposals. In fact, many companies have dedicated teams or specialists to create seemingly-compelling, graphically-rich proposal pages that go onto a shared drive, making it much easier for salespeople or the support people they work with to simply grab some of those pages and assemble them with a minimal amount of customization necessary. One could argue this approach saves countless hours for the sales operation and puts presentation elements in the hands of those who build such things every day. On the surface, this appears to be a breakthrough akin to Henry Ford’s assembly line. But there is problem, and I bet you know what it is.

I have read about 300 proposals in the last year in my consulting practice, and nearly all of them were, indeed, beautiful. And nearly all I read looked alike – a reference to mostly generic needs that most prospects could have, pages and pages of product information (more than anyone would read), and some boilerplate information about the company offering the proposal. Just imagine you are a professional buyer or business owner who sees multiple proposals of this type every week. It would be an effective organic cure to insomnia, for sure. The number one complaint I hear from salespeople is that they put out a proposal to their prospect and then never hear anything again. Is it any wonder? 

Topics: Proposal Sales

In Your Sales Strategy, Are You Psyched Up For the Close?

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Will that “moment of truth” be looming in the next meeting with your prospect – the meeting where you look him or her in the eye and ask for the order? Or, will the next meeting be the one where you confirm the details to implement your plan... because, the prospect already knows most of what is in your proposal (they helped you build it), the price range, and most of what it’s going to take to buy your solution? I hope it’s the latter.

Topics: Proposal valid business reason Needs Analysis sales strategy sales performance Sales

What If You Never Wrote Another Proposal?

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What if you never wrote another proposal? Outlandish statement? Maybe not.

Most people are anxious to get a proposal in front of their prospect as soon as possible. After all, the sooner we ask them to buy something, the sooner we will get an answer right? Correct. You WILL get an answer sooner when you ask a prospect to buy sooner. So, why not crank out those proposals?
 
Here’s why:
 
The quick answer you get is far more likely to be “no” or a “Let me think about it.”  Which you know eventually winds down into a “no." A woodpecker bangs its head against a tree a thousand times a minute. Is that how you see yourself?
 
So, what about this?
 
What if by the time you presented your proposal, you and the prospect had already confirmed that you are working on the right needs? Needs that warrant attention and a solution sooner rather than later?

Topics: Proposal setting expectations Sales

The Two Biggest Problems B2B Salespeople Have With Proposals

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1.  They don’t hear “yes” often enough.

2.  They don’t hear “no” often enough.

When you talk to salespeople all time as I do, it’s easy to see the biggest problem with many proposals is that they seem to fall into a black hole, an abyss, where salespeople don’t hear either "yes" or "no." That’s a problem.

It’s better to hear “no” than nothing. As a result, salespeople feed pending information to their managers each week, which includes proposals still hanging out there, and sales managers continue to miss their projections with faulty data. Experience shows that each week that goes by between presentation and getting an answer, the chance of closing a proposal goes down. In fact, the closing percentage on proposals over 30 days old is usually less than 10%, far less than what the salespeople are projecting. The reality is a no answer is usually a “no” answer.

So, how can salespeople avoid having their proposals drop off the face of the planet, never to be heard about again? Here are some steps that should be useful:

Topics: Proposal Needs Analysis Sales

Sales Strategy: How Preparation Speeds Up the Sales Process

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New business efforts are full steam ahead! As I am helping execute new business sales drives for different sales organizations from all over the country, I am uncovering a significant difference between how management feels this should be accomplished versus the salespeople charged with generating the revenue.

First, here's what management wants: to hit an aggressive new business goal in a specific amount of time from the very best prospects for their industry, which has been strategized to meet overall growth objectives. This is good; sales organizations need to think this way to grow and compete.

Now here's what salespeople want: to hit that number by calling on as many prospects as they can, so they hopefully get enough first appointments set, so they can complete the rest of the sales process, and hopefully close enough new business. This is NOT good because this philosophy leads to choosing and spinning your wheels on lousy prospects and hasty approaches to getting first appointments. Both of which will certainly impede any salesperson trying to hit their numbers.

Topics: Proposal new business development Needs Analysis Sales

5 Ways to Create Sales Proposals That Close Deals

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Today we have a guest post by Mikita Mikado. Mikita is the Co-Founder & CEO of PandaDoc, a platform helping sales teams create, deliver, and track intelligent sales content to close deals faster. To learn more about simplifying your sales documents, connect with Mikita and the PandaDoc team on Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Topics: Proposal Sales

Close More Deals Using a No-surprise Proposal

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Surprises can be fun when they are part of a birthday; not-so-much when involved in selling and closing a B2B deal. Salespeople should do their due diligence—via ongoing contracting and clarification—to minimize surprises in the sales process, especially during proposal development and presentation.

Too often proposals are met with the response, “Let me think about it," because the buyer is hearing many of the proposal elements for the first time during the proposal presentation. Ouch… these five words can really derail a sale! Salespeople can eliminate these words from the sales process and improve their closing ratio by using a no-surprise proposal technique that clarifies these 5 things before they build and present a proposal:

Topics: Proposal Sales