Last week we discussed why to never email proposals and how walking people through your plan will dramatically increase your close rate. This week we will cover the content — what you should provide your prospects with and how to walk them through it to close that deal.
An important point to keep in mind is that most products are conveniences or luxuries. They’re nice to have, but to most people, they aren’t critical to their lives. That is, until you position your product properly and create a perceived need. The best way to do this is to walk them through a problem that they may not have considered yet, and position your product as the answer for them to discover.
So how do you execute a successful proposal structure that will communicate a need and lead to a close? Here are the four steps we follow at Skaled…
(Let’s assume the following as well… the person you’re meeting has brought other people to the meeting as well. They’re decision makers and don’t need to see a demo, or alternatively, already have. The main point is that in many cases, a demo is unnecessary at this time.)
1. Set an Agenda
Now that you have set up a call or an inperson meeting to discuss the proposal, you must start the call off right.
Create excitement around what you are going to discuss and then set a clear agenda. The agenda should look like this: Recap the highlights from previous conversations, discuss where you believe you can partner, and then cover the next steps in getting started. Present these clearly to keep the meeting on track.
(Many people skip this step and jump right in to a pitch, but do not underestimate the power of taking control of the meeting early on.)
2. Recap Key Issues
As I mentioned in the post last week, it’s important to recap your previous conversation to make sure we understood them correctly and also because things can change rapidly in the prospect’s business. We also recap to give the new participants a voice in the process. We ask them if they see the issues similarly and to add any additional key points.
Hopefully they confirm and agree or add another minor detail that you can use to make your argument stronger in the end.
Now stop right here! There is a potentially big issue about to arise. There will be times at this point, when you have to return to discovery. If your recap does not resonate this time around the way it did in your previous meeting — likely due to new points added by additional members of the converation — it’s time to stop the conversation and let the client know that you’ll need to revise your plan and take these new facts into consideration. Explain that you need to take some time to learn more about these issues and return to them with a revised plan by such and such date.
I am a firm believer it is best to wait to do a great meeting instead of rushing to do a mediocre one.
3. Partnership Planning
Assuming you did have the recap right, it’s now time to lay out the plan for partnership. First, present a high level overview of your company with relevant stats, followed by a recap of the issue they’re facing and how your product or service will solve it.
The high level on your company should highlight relevant facts to the deal at hand. Many people in this meeting may be learning about you for the first time, so this section will serve as an education opportunity. Typically you want this to be 1-2 slides maximum.
Next, you want to lay out your plan for partnership. Present a key issue from the recap section and then key products or services to solve for this issue.
Ex. First bullet: “Difficulty finding software engineers in South Carolina”. Sub bullets present the key products to solve this issue. You may have the same product related to multiple issues, and that is fine as well. It shows that although the product may be the same, you understand that how it will be used to solve different issues will vary.
4. Next steps/implementation plan and proposal
Now that we have tied key issues to the solutions we offer, it’s time to remove the barriers of implementation.
When we do lose deals in the end, it’s typically not because we didn’t have the right solution. It’s because the perceived time and resources commitment is too high.
The prospect becomes overwhelmed by the commitment of the rollout.
Our job in the end of the meeting is to remove those barriers and create a clear path to success. This step is normally multiple slides or talk points that layout an exact timeline and the next steps for partnering. This should emphasize the work YOU will do, and make it clear that requirements on their end are minimal. You should also lay out key meetings that need to happen and KPIs for success.
Make the prospect feel like you have taken all possibilities into account and you’ll handle all of the necessary details and support them in anything they have to accomplish.
5. Final Proposal
The final proposal should should highlight the products, pricing, and tiers, if applicable.
The above steps are meant to remove as many barriers to the sale as possible. There are times when you will not be able to present live to all of the persons involved, but when you frame the document in the above format you will ensure that you arm your champions with everything they need to position your company and get the deal done. This gives you have the best chance to close any deal!