Last week I was in a friendly, albeit heated conversation with a VP of Sales about what they could be doing to close more deals.
Their current process was standard. Set an appointment, do a demo, and then follow up with options or another meeting for another demo with more people. Afterwards, email the proposal for them to consider.
I asked him how many times he’s heard a prospect ask for a proposal on the first call?
All the time! was his answer.
Now obviously, you want to give your prospect what they ask for. So if you’re constantly being asked for emailed proposals, it’s a natural tendency to fill that request.
But emailing a proposal is one of the worst moves you can make in closing a deal.
I met with a company last month that had a daily quota of five proposals going out each day from their inside sales team. Their close rate was less than 5%. That’s a lot of time to spend on emails that are largely being rejected.
They key piece of the sales process that many sales people miss, is the goal of the first meeting, which is almost NEVER to close the deal. Instead, you’re qualifying and generating enough interest to convince them to loop in the decision makers and move forward.
When you follow up on the first meeting with an emailed proposal, you handing over the power of persuasion, the ability to react to their concerns, and the personal touch that no matter how far technology comes, will never translate through words on a screen.
Here’s why you NEVER send email proposals:
1. People are typically terrible listeners. We hear what we want and try to fit feedback from prospects into our own existing framework — adapting their words to fit a plan we already have in place. Then you email that over with no chance to confirm or recap. A second conversation allows us to go over the points made in the first, and adjust our presumptions accordingly. You lose that ability to modify your plan when a hard copy is sent via email.
2. Things change. It’s likely that time has passed since your first meeting and them finally getting around to reading the proposal you’ve sent over. So many things could be different in their world by then — a new boss, a new focus, a new baby… who knows! If the proposal they have in their hands is suddenly not a fit for their current conditions, you’ve now lost the opportunity to react to those changes and tweak the plan for moving forward.
So what do you do say to your prospects when they ask…”Can you send me a proposal?”
Here is what we’ve found works best…
“Absolutely. But first, we’ve covered a lot of ground today so I’d like to take a few days to synthesize my notes and put together an appropriate partnership based on your feedback. Let’s do this. (Pause.) Let’s set up a 10 minute meeting next week, and I’ll walk you through the plan briefly to make sure we are on the same page. How does your Thursday look?”
In next weeks post I’ll talk more about what you should do in the second meeting to ensure you generate the same level of excitement as the initial meeting and remove barriers to implementation. Just doing the above will ensure that you’re setting yourself up for success and getting them excited to meet with you again.