Avoiding the “Big Black Hole” of Business Proposals

By Caryn Kopp, Chief Door Opener, an EO New Jersey member and Managing Director and Chief Door Opener® of Kopp Consulting, LLC

Have you experienced this? You receive a request for a proposal, spend precious time crafting it, hit “send” and anxiously await a response. And then you’re rewarded with nothing but silence. You follow up with an email.  Nothing. You leave a voicemail.  Nada.  You send another email. Still no response. Welcome to what I call the “Big Black Hole” of business proposals – where proposals go to curl up and die.

If this happens to you, you’ve got company. Nobody has time to waste on proposals that go nowhere. Here are a few concrete steps you can take to maintain control of the sale and keep your proposals away from the “Big Black Hole”!

The Pre-Proposal Stage
When you receive the proposal request don’t get excited and start preparing it straight away. Have a short discussion with your prospect to elicit the information you need to craft a winning proposal. Before ending your discussion, ask for a date and time to walk your prospect though the completed proposal so you can answer any questions and discuss next steps. The advantage of walking your prospect through the proposal, instead of just emailing it, is that you maintain control over the communication.

Proposal Structure
1. Background. At the very beginning of the proposal, restate what your prospect told you was most important to him/her (and anyone else on the decision-making team) using his/her exact words.

2. Provide strategically thought-out options. The first option is exactly what your prospect requested. The second option builds on the first, providing a few bells and whistles that are of value to the decision maker. The third is a BIG IDEA.

3. Next Steps. Lay out next steps that make it easy for the prospect to say “yes.” Be sure your proposal includes a reminder about the date and time for the follow-up phone call to review the proposal.

Closing Time
Sometimes at the moment of final decision, there can still be some lingering doubts or emotional reasons preventing the prospect from moving forward. If you find yourself in this situation, you can ask, “What’s holding you back from making a decision?” Or, “During our initial meeting you said that X was important to you, if we don’t proceed together on this project, how will you solve this problem/challenge?”

After you ask one of these questions, be quiet. The silence may last a long time and you may be tempted to fill the moment with chatter. Don’t!  Give your prospect time to think and respond.

By simply following the techniques listed above, you will have more control over the sale, minimize the number of prospects who go “silent” and keep your proposals away from the “Big Black Hole.”

Categories: Coaching

Tags:

Leave a Comment

  • (will not be published)

ERROR: si-captcha.php plugin says captcha_library not found.