If you’re in business, it’s a sure bet that you have been involved in the time-consuming task of creating and delivering proposals. Here are tips to minimize miscommunication and maximize your chances of a successful delivery and (hopefully) a signed contract.
For this article, I interviewed Kathy Dunlay, of New England Sales & Marketing, who’s been supporting sales in the tech sector since 1990. Initially, as a market analyst, she came to understand the power of both the written and spoken word as well as presentations in persuading prospects. Like other modern marketers she became a digital marketing expert in order to support the changing landscape of technology sales. She now works with B2B tech companies as a trusted resource, advising her customers throughout the sales process.
Q. Let’s say you’re a sales/marketing exec who has booked a demonstration of your product/service to a potential client. Now what?
A. My next challenge would be to ensure that the demonstration happens. Prospects are insanely busy, and likely have fires to put out every day—upsetting their schedules. The day before, or at least a few hours before the demo, reach out via email or give a quick call to confirm that the prospect will still be available. Don’t take it personally if they can’t make it. Be open to rescheduling as many times as necessary to get that critical one-on-one time with your prospect.
Q. You've completed a proposal, how do you deliver it? Email? Phone? FedEx?
A. First, make sure you confirm what the protocol is for your prospect. They may have methods with which you’ll need to comply, especially if part of a large RFP process. Ideally you will arrange to review the proposal live (on the phone) with your prospect. Don’t simply email the proposal and let it speak for itself. The prospect will have detailed questions that you should put yourself in a position to respond to directly. Otherwise you will open yourself up to miscommunications which will deter the sales process.
Q. Now you're on the phone reviewing your proposal details with your prospect. What should you be doing during your conversation?
A. Make sure that your prospect is open to listening. If they are in a rush, and can’t give you undivided attention, ask if there is a better time to discuss. Also, make sure that you are prepared to be a good listener. No question is too big or too small. Make sure you are responding thoroughly and do that by asking if you have answered their question completely.
Q. The proposal review is completed and you're concluding your prospect call. What are your next action steps?
A. Establish what the prospect would like to see happen next. Then determine what they need to do, and what you need to do. You may need to gather some information based on their questions, or present the same proposal to different members of their team. Take whatever feedback they can give you on the spot, and establish next steps including a date and time for resolution. Don’t end the call until you have the next call date on your calendar.
Q. What was your favorite candy when you were 10?
A. The 100 Grand Bar
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