Anyone involved in sales, marketing or demand generation should make it a point to get involved in buying processes from time-to-time to see how others manage the sales process. I’m lucky enough to see multiple processes on a regular basis.
Between the prospects I’m discussing services with, working with our existing clients and in my role as CEO of Imagine (on the buying side) I easily participate in many processes every month.
There’s one thing that about 90% of them have in common with each other - they suck! I mean they’re really bad.mThey’re boring, self-centered, confusing and basically a waste. And the lynchpin of their suckiness (is that a word?) has got to be the proposal. That critical point where the seller is going to deliver the full proposition and demonstrate how their solution fills the needs of their prospect is so bad, so often that I’m surprised people actually buy.
The reason it’s so bad isn’t because of a lack of time, attention or even money. I know many companies where the costs of developing a proposal are in the tens of thousands of dollars. You’d think with an investment like that, it would be the best part of the process. Unfortunately it’s not.
In my experience, there are four primary reasons that that proposals are as bad as they are. I share the fixes below. Before I get to the solution, let me be clear that when I talk about proposals I’m talking about formal and informal proposals. If you’re asking someone to buy something from you, you’re making a proposal. Following these rules is crucial to success.