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In a previous piece about proposals I said that you should try to avoid producing proposals without selling all the decision-makers in the sales process first.
I thought it might be useful to say a little more about how to correctly develop a proposal (actually a “statement of work” – see my previous post for why) when you do get to the correct decision-makers.
First, you should work with each of the key decision-makers in the buying process to unearth their “ideal solution” to their problem/issue. You do this using questioning techniques – the “classic” version of which can be found in Neil Rackham’s book SPIN Selling.
The second step is the trickiest part of the process. This is to take the prospect’s “ideal solution” and adapt it so that it can be achieved using your product or service (If it actually can be in good conscience. If not, you need to be honest and let the prospect know you cannot solve their problem – they will respect you and you will “live to fight another day”.) Work interactively with the decision-makers to agree that your offering matches their ideal solution closely enough to proceed.
Finally, document how your offering meets your prospect’s need and how it will be delivered. A key point at this stage is to include the decision-makers as much as possible in developing this document. Have them review an early outline of this document and ask them how you need to edit or add to it. By doing this you will be producing a co-authored statement of work with your prospects. A co-authored statement of work will rarely be rejected and you will proceed to closing your deal very quickly.
In summary, work as team with your prospects to co-author a statement of work and closing deals will become “child’s play”…