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Truth be told you probably don’t really care either. What you care about is how much money you are going to put in your bank account this month, this quarter and this year.
Proposals are not going to get you there. Deals are. Closed deals.
Once you’ve got a signed contract you’ve got a shot at sending out invoices and after some duly annoying amount of time getting a check back that with some good fortune will clear and finally you reached your goal.
The problem with proposals is they are all about proposing.
Proposing is a lot about you guessing what your prospect wants. You go to a sales meeting. Ask a bunch of questions and somewhere near what turns out to be the end of the meeting the prospect says “Sounds good. Why don’t you send me a proposal”.
Problem is this one meeting with one person in the prospect company usually does not give you enough information to document everything you need to know. — everything you need to know to pull together a document that will look good to everyone that is involved in the buying process. That is everyone that may see your document.
Maybe it will look good to the one person you met with. Maybe you asked all the right questions at that meeting. Maybe you listened acutely and noted down every nuance of every response – even though you were not focused on the goal of writing a proposal when you went into the meeting. Maybe.
But even then what about the 6-20 other people that are involved in the buying process. The 6-20 other people that were not at this meeting. How do you know what they want? How do you know what they would want to see in this document?
You need to talk to them. You need to ask them questions. You need to record their answers. They may not all agree on the content of the document (happens when you write something in your company with your colleagues, no?).
You can’t get rid of documents entirely from the sales process but when you write them realize they don’t have to be proposals. Proposals in the traditional way are largely a guess.
When you develop documents understand their context. Develop a short document with that first buyer. Keep your time investment down. Use outlines. Develop documents that are a couple of pages long. Documents that don’t require a day’s investment to produce the most beautiful tome.
Have your first prospect’s colleagues add details/change the document. Get it “co-authored” as much as possible. Get you buyers involved in writing it. Get them to take ownership. Make it their baby.
And when you’re confident enough people over there have seen, touched it and approved it, you can finally write a longer document…a contract…
Write up what everyone at the prospect account has agreed to as a statement of work. Attach it to your usual legal mumbo jumbo and you have a contract. Return it to your buyer to be signed.