Time is precious. And in sales, misspent time can mean lost revenue. Applying the most effective actions to each part of the sales process is important and can have a cumulative effect. Sending out proposals is one step that takes time and, therefore, should earn results worth the time expended.
I was reading Aaron Ross’ book, Predictable Revenue and learned that he held Salesforce to clear expectations when it came to proposal responses. Aaron led SaleForce’s sales team as the company grew from a startup to $100 million in revenue. In his book Aaron writes, “If you’re not winning at least 50% of the proposals you’re giving out, you’re too easy.” His point is that sending out generic proposals, ones which do not connect to a prospect’s needs, will not generate high win rates.
Often times, you’ll receive no response at all from the prospect. Why does this happen? Most likely the company’s ‘standard’ proposal template is too generic and thus the proposal submitted does not address a prospect’s requirements. Yet, when sales reps are pressed for time, they are forced to go with the generic approach. The two-fold result: an ignored proposal and an overall low win rate.
Tailoring proposals to fit prospect requirements sounds reasonable; however, sales reps may be stuck with cumbersome, difficult-to-tailor, proposal templates. I have seen huge, unwieldy spreadsheet templates with multi-layered grouped and sub-grouped requirements that are tough to manipulate. To deal with these templates, some organizations have dedicated teams that assist with proposal updates. This is a tremendous help when your proposal is at the top of the list, but it can be a bottleneck when others are In front of you. Reps may end up sending the generic template in order to be responsive with the hope of adjusting requirements later.
In an earlier post, Top 3 Proposal Challenges, I talk about the importance of customer confidence in proposals. I share common proposal challenges and thoughts on how to examine your business’s approach to proposals. If you have poorly aligned requirements, then perhaps your proposal process and/or tools are partial contributors to an overall low win rate.To have predictable revenue you need to win more proposals, and this means aligning with customer requirements. Companies whose sales teams can revise and deliver proposals that target prospects’ needs have a better chance at higher win rates. Why waste time?
A NOTE FROM OMBUD: Matt Sheridan has been sharing his expertise in typical Sales Engineer challenges with our team as we’re innovating on Response Execution. We’ll be sharing his insights in this space, and this is just the third of several posts he’s written on the topic.
Matt Sheridan has a proven background working with enterprise-level sales, technical sales and proposal teams. Matt is author of A+ Demonstrations: Excellence in Sales Engineering and is a subject matter expert in helping sales teams maximize their selling potential. Matt is currently director of product Marketing for an industry leading product-lifecycle-management company and holds B.S. in Aerospace Engineering from Syracuse University and a M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Rhode Island. https://www.linkedin.com/in/mattdsheridan
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