What is a business proposal and how is your prospect using it?
Many sales professionals think they know what the sales proposition is for. It would be used to specify the price of their solution (product or service) and to detail the services sold. Do you agree so far? Well if so you are wrong.
If I asked you this way now: How do your prospective clients see your business proposals? Perhaps you may say that the cost would not be a valid answer. A business proposal is more than just a pretty quote. It is part of the sales process and like all the details that make it up, it has only one goal: to bring value to your prospective client!
Clarify your project and convince internally
The sales process can start in many ways: Prospecting, Incoming call, Recommendations ...In any case, it is unusual and even suspicious that a B to B customer has a perfect view of the solution from the start of the sales process.
Often they do not fully understand their problem, so before imagining the exact solution, there is a little way. It's your role when selling, to bring value to your prospect and ensure them that they will have the best possible experience during the sales process.
He must read your sales proposal meticulously and synthetically, considering the problem that has been encountered, the reason for its existence, and how to address it.
This clarity will allow him to provide his teams with the tools required for them to appreciate your solution. Keep in mind that the individual you're talking to isn't always a sales genius, so it's up to you to assist them through your excellent sales proposal.
Compare with competing commercial offers
When you write a commercial proposal, keep in mind that your interlocutor and all the decision-makers involved in the project, will compare it with those of your competitors. In many companies, the final decision-maker will not be able to study all the offers in detail. To save time, he will only quickly browse through the offers that will be presented to him.
What does that mean?
- First: As a result, your interviewer is likely to show you only the ones he has received. Instead, they will use their intuition to make decisions about which items are most important to them. To get the desired result, your proposed solution must be worked on and exhibit significant effort.
- Second: When writing sales proposals, it must project an image of competence and, perhaps more importantly, that it should catch the attention of the decision-maker even when he reads it in a very quick manner. To achieve this, you need to teach your prospective client about the entire process (we'll get to that in Part 3). Do not hesitate to innovate in the format of your sales proposal templates, curiosity remains a powerful lever of attention.
Think about these two aspects when you evaluate your final proposal, ask yourself if they answer these two issues. If you have any doubts, start over!
The business proposition reflects the quality of your sales proposals
It sounds obvious, but I've heard many sales people and executives say they don't see how to enrich their business proposition. Be sure of one thing, the business proposition reflects the quality of the sales process, if you have nothing of interest to say about it, ask yourself the right questions.
The perfect business proposition is a co-construction
A good sales quote is not cut and paste, it should be built for and with your prospect . You should also avoid writing it at the end of the process, each meeting should allow you to move it forward. Indeed, in B2B it is rare that a sales process takes place in a single exchange.
You have to take advantage of this “complexity”. Indeed, if with each exchange you advance your offer and validate this progress to your future customer at the next step, two things will happen:
- Your prospect will take ownership of the commercial offer much more easily and will be able to defend it better. It is also his .
- Your prospect having co-produced the commercial proposal, he will not be able to go wrong at the end of the process by considering it as unsuitable. It is also his .
As a bonus, you will discover that this method allows to exploit a cognitive bias called: freezing effect . This bias corresponds to the fact that when making a decision, we tend to persist in that direction. So each positive decision makes the next more likely to be positive. So by validating the construction of your offer at each stage, you increase the chances that this offer is finally accepted.
A good business proposition brings value
In the first part, I explained to you that a business proposal was first used for your prospect and not for you. You need to ensure that your business proposition has value in and of itself .
For example, if you are selling an account based marketing solution , why not include figures on its effectiveness as well as an audit of your client's organization and a recommendation on how to set it up?
I see you coming, don't do it with your big clogs by presenting your solution as the only option. See more broadly, on the scale of its organization and its challenges. Then demonstrate the fluidity with which your solution would fit into this project and how much that would increase its efficiency.
Often, we are told that the price is the key information of the business proposal, everyone is talking about it. The funny thing is that often salespeople are the first to be saddened by the fact that the customer only talks about the price. If the salespeople themselves focused a little less on it, so would the customers.
Bring value to bring the debate to what matters, you will see that the price will immediately be less central in your discussions.
Example of a successful sales proposal
After all these explanations and questions, you are probably wondering how to finally structure your commercial offer . I think there are many ways to do this and you have to find the one that best suits your target. That being said, I offer you a commented example of a structure for your commercial offer. Note that this is a relevant structure mainly for companies that sell B to B products or services with high added value.
Understand: The context and the issue
The first part of your commercial offer should allow you to demonstrate your understanding of your client's needs, the context in which they operate and their challenges.
We will find simple elements such as:
- Who is your contact?
- Its role in the company?
- What is the size of the company and in which market is it operating?
- What is its main objective in the coming months?
And specific elements on its problem:
- How does he describe her?
- How did he identify it?
- Why is dealing with this problem important for the company?
- How important is it to your interviewer?
To obtain these elements, I strongly recommend that you use SPIN sellingwhich is a very interesting sales technique to guide you during the first meetings.
To find out more, do not hesitate to consult our article on the subject .
Analyze: Diagnosis of the situation
In the second part of your business proposal, you must demonstrate your expertise and your ability to take a step back from the potential client's problem.
It is a diagnostic phase. Using the information obtained during your discussions and all the supports at your disposal, you will refine the description of the problem from an expert point of view. Place it in a broader context and provide all the elements of light necessary for its proper understanding.
You are a web-marketing agency, your future client complains about too few leads brought by his current website. He thinks it necessary to overhaul his site. Your duty is to check if this is the problem, and to analyze for example its natural referencing, the loading time, etc. You have to prove that you have understood better than him where his problem is coming from and that you know exactly what led to its appearance.
In the example above, one can very well imagine that in fact, the site does not present any defect as such but that no SEO strategy has been put in place. Your prospect is invisible on Google, and therefore invisible to his target.
Suggest: Provide a solution
This is where you start talking about ... The Solution to the Customer's Problem . Not from you, at least not directly.
Action reaction, problem solution.
The “by whom?” will arrive later.
Describe in detail the action plan adapted to the resolution of the problem. Be specific and methodical. Your diagnosis must make it possible to make the solution “obvious”, if this is not the case you must rework the whole.
In the example of the agency, whose prospect has a problem of lack of incoming leads, after diagnosis, it seems obvious that a strategy must be implemented allowing better referencing. Your expertise being real, you will be able to propose a plan in two stages:
- The creation of a blog and a content marketing strategy allowing you to better reference your future client and to develop its visitors in their journey.
- Then the implementation of a marketing automation tool to exploit the traffic obtained by converting visitors into leads thanks to premium content.
Needless to say, there is much more value in this solution than in a “simple redesign” of a website.
At this point, the prospect is convinced that your solution is the right one. He needs to visualize himself triumphing over his problem. For this, back-planning is important because:
The difference between a dream and a project is a date.
In addition, it can be useful if your solution lends itself to it to propose a before / after image. This is important because it anchors the desire in your prospect. Remember that selling is an emotional process as well as a rational one . Help them plan for the future with you.
The before / after image makes your support concrete in the mind of the customer and during a quick read it makes all the difference with competing commercial proposals.
Budget: Cost the solution
There you go, now you can talk about prices.
Keep it simple, avoid having 300 lines with prices , quantities and all in different units. Save that for the “official” quote and even then only if you have some sort of “hatred” for accountants…
The more lines there are, the more numbers there are, the more potential aspects there are to negotiate ! Incidentally, we no longer validate one price but several, therefore several decisions, so it is more difficult.
Keep it simple. Package your solution on behalf of your client's stake. We are all completely indifferent to the name of your internal work units. Your client wants to “grow their business with inbound leads”.
It's those words, so use them and put a nice little line:
Support for the development of the number of inbound leads
It's simple, it's clear.
Reassure: Who are these incredible professionals?
Ok there we just talked about price and the prospect's fears are coming back at a gallop.
That's it, it's finally time to talk to you.
A brief description of your structure, your team and your references is sufficient. Simple and efficient.
You can adjust it according to the profile of your customers by pressing on certain specific points (certifications, rewards, who will be the privileged interlocutor, etc.).