You’re at the stage in a sale where you have identified and understood all the value that you can offer to a client. What do you do next? Make them an offer of course, but remember how and when to make the offer though is critical to your chances of success.
In a future article, we will look at the best ways to package and present value in an offer, for this article though we will look at the fundamentals of making an offer to a potential client – including timing, format and delivery.
Should you simply offer a price there and then during the meeting where you have discussed the client’s needs and understood the value you can offer? Or do you go away and send a quote or proposal at a later stage?
What we talk about next is very close to my heart….. If you consider how far you have come in the Sales Process and how much work you have done to date, it’s almost a sin to drop the ball or cut corners now.
THE SALES OFFER
To help consider why it’s so critical, let’s go through several scenarios that I believe reflect reality. However, not all of the advice mentioned below will apply all of the time. You will need to use at the appropriate time, however, please don’t dismiss it.
SCENARIO 1: After Asking Questions – You Offer a Price Immediately
OK, so you have uncovered the pain or gain, the client has been very open and you have a clear view on the value that you can offer. Seems like now is the time to close, however, unless you are sure you can close your customer there and then, (which is normally unlikely), hold off and put only some value on the table. If you offer the price at the end of asking questions the client will think you offer the same solution to everybody, that nothing was tailor made and that no matter what he had answered you would have offered the same product or service.
The best way to end the meeting here would be to say you have understood what they are looking for and you believe you can help. Then, agree a time to come back as soon as possible to present your solution to them.
SCENARIO 2. After Asking Questions – You Provide a Quote
This is an interesting subject. Many, many of the salespeople I have worked with submit quotes. They’re obviously important but if you think about it, what is a quote? It is simply a number, normally the price. If our clients just compare numbers they will almost always go with the cheapest. Is your product or service the cheapest in the market?…. Probably not…. How many market leaders, in most industries, in most markets, have the cheapest products or services? The answer is not many if there are any at all.
Quote or Proposal? Some of the salespeople I have worked with say that the content of their quote is the same as a proposal. Great, well done, now just call it a proposal! Calling it a quote encourages the client to think it is all about the price.
So what should be in a proposal? We are going to do a lot of work on this next but in short, a proposal should ooze value. What makes up value? Well yes, the solution AND the price. No matter how good the solution is, they will compare it against the price to see if it is worth it. This is value. Imagine that your potential client has your proposal in front of him and must convince a committee or his colleagues that your offer is best. He should be able to dip into your document and address needs that his colleagues have. If you write your proposal with this in mind, you won’t go far wrong.
SCENARIO 3. After Asking Questions – You Send a Proposal
Ok, so we have avoided providing a quote and spent some quality time outlining the value of our offer and have put it all together in a proposal. Great job. So now you write an email, attach the proposal and hit send. OK?… No, not OK. You might as well have just provided a price or sent a quote. The reason; 95% of your potential customers will simply open the attachment and go straight to the prices.
It will always be better for you to ‘present’ your proposal. An argument I get here from many salespeople is that the client asks to have the proposal sent to them. Well, you are in the ‘profession of persuasion’, you need to try and make them understand that it is worth their while for you to go through the offer with them. A meeting to do this (present your proposal) will always be best but if the client is a long way away and it would be difficult to make the trip again to see them, challenge yourself first if it is worth the time and cost. If the answer is no then to arrange a time to speak on a conference call or Skype call, just make sure you keep control of the way they view the proposal.
SCENARIO 4. After Asking Questions – You Present the Proposal
BINGO, YES, we are now in the right place. Making a time, which should be agreed after the discovery meeting, and going into the present is the perfect approach. Also, try and ensure you are going to have the right audience in attendance. It’s not easy but very important.
An obvious reason why this is key is that it is important to keep control of the presentation and keep away from the price until the end. However, there are lots more reasons than this as to why presenting the proposal is crucial:
- You will engage with the client throughout. Ensure you are involving them in areas you are aware are important to them. They will ask questions if they are interested in something or need clarity.
- The questions are a gold mine for you. Either you know this is something very important to them, or it is something that you or they would have missed if you were not presenting. (Fact: If a client writes back by email after receiving a proposal as an attachment to an email, they will have asked 3 questions if you talk to them over the phone. If you are presenting to them they will ask more than 14 questions. Every question is a chance to drive home the value of your offer.)
- By being present while providing a solution you will see their level of interest. Maybe it will be a good time to close? Maybe you feel you need to involve somebody else? Maybe you need to find out some more information, could you have missed something? The chances of being aware of all of this can only be gained if you are in front of the client
Let’s say you have decided to try and close them, or at least get a feeling as to where they are. If they had reservations and you encouraged them to respond, the information you receive could be critical as to whether you will close the deal or not. Again, if you had just sent that mail, you may never know about this reservation and it could have been a concern that they meant that they simply decided not to proceed with the offer
Delivering your offer at the correct time in the correct way is crucial to your chances of success. Remember:
- Question to uncover needs.
- Identify value in your offer.
- Develop a proposal that fully illustrates the value you are offering.
- Present your proposal face to face.
This final point, being in front of the client while delivering your proposal presentation is a must as it really increases your chance of success. If you don’t believe me, go back through your last 20 proposals and see if there is a better closing ratio with the ones where you presented the proposal personally!
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