Our company’s reason for being is to help our clients turn talent into performance, and I spend most of my time making sure we have everything operating in such a way that we can delight customers. I don’t get to sell that often, but recently I found myself in conversations with a friend who runs his own business. After a few conversations and a meeting with a few key managers, I presented the owner with a pre-proposal and asked him to review it with his management team.
In this pre-proposal, I summarized an opportunity they had shared with me—a way they could grow the business. I presented a few concepts outlining how we would help (without too much detail) and then added a few paragraphs to get them to think about how they would evaluate their return on investment if we proceeded. I listed several soft measures and several hard measures to get them thinking. Soft measures were things like growing the sales manager and a better trained sales team, and hard measures were things like developing new customers, and hiring better salespeople based on our structured sales interview.
What felt different about this process is that I decided a pre-proposal made more sense than a proposal—and while I included some preliminary ideas, the focus was on how to evaluate return on investment. This sent a strong message about how important it was to me that this would be a good investment, and ironically, this step sped up the sale because of the conversation it prompted inside their organization.
Have you used this approach before? I'd like to know how it has worked for you.
John Henley is Chief Operating Officer at The Center for Sales Strategy.