Sales Training

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Win More Than The Proposal

“Sounds good — send me a proposal.”
How many times have you heard that? Too many. You run back to your office, put together a proposal, send it to the prospect and start the follow-up process (and the prayer vigil). Or do you?
The sale should be solidified before the proposal is written. The proposal should be the essence of the decision between you and your prospect: It should solidify the sale. It should be the image of your business. It should be a window into the way your company conducts business. Is it?

How many do you win? How many do you lose? If you lose many more proposals than you win, the problem is much more than the proposal — it’s the proposal process. Count the wins. Count the losses. That’s the scorecard, baby: your scorecard. Ouch.

When you win proposals, how profitable are they? Are you telling your boss, “Let’s go in real low on this one so we can get the business; then, six months from now, we can really lose some money.” Ouch.
Once you lower the price, customers expect a low price all the time.

First, determine if it’s a price proposal or a value proposal. If the prospect will only take the lowest price, you’re going to lose even if you win, because the lowest price is the lowest profit. It may even be no profit.
The challenge is: Can you create a profitability formula or a productivity formula, measured against your results, that sets a standard for the proposal — a formula that your competition must meet or exceed regardless of initial price? You must convince your buyer that there’s a long-term cost, not simply a short-term price.

When people ask me for a proposal, the first thing I say is “no.” That always shocks them. Besides, proposals are a pain in the butt. Instead, I ask if they were taking notes; they say “yes.” I say, “Well, let me just sign the notes.” I continue, “All we really need to do is pick a date to begin.” Thirty percent of the time, the prospect will say, “You’re right.”
The other 70 percent of the time, the prospect will insist on a proposal — but I’ve just won 30 percent of the business without submitting a paper. The reason: I have sales guts, and you don’t.

The reason for a proposal is to lower the risk to the buyer, and potentially to lower the cost. But in the final analysis, many proposals can be eliminated if your prospect feels that your price is fair, and that their risk is low. If the risk is low and the reward is high, the answer is obvious.

Before the decision is made, it’s important that your customer knows what your product or service will be like after it’s been delivered. This will remove all risks and fear, and it may remove the price-only decision process.
Effective proposals are a result of effective sales presentations. Proposals should be the solidifying factor, not the sales pitch. They should document the agreement and confirm the sale and the claims you made. Do yours?
Your proposal is not a regurgitation of your price list, nor is it a document to see how much of your profit you can give away. It is not something you prepare to beat the competition.

A proposal is the gateway to a value-driven sale that begins or extends a mutually profitable relationship. The minute you low-ball a price, you go from a relationship to a transaction, and the next person who low-balls you will win. Don’t just win the proposal: Win the value. Win the profit. And win the relationship.

Re-printed by permission of RadioInk. By Jeffrey Gitomer, salesman@gitomer.com

You can find dozens of great, creative ideas for proposals that will really solidify your pitch inside Connect's Creative Proposal Workshop.

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Sales Training