Chad Quinn with Ecosystems and I have held many discussions about the topic of B2B proposals over the past several years. Recently, we decided to conduct a bit of joint research and present our general findings in a post. We reviewed 100 B2B proposals that six different clients presented to their customers over the current year to date. While reviewing, we tried to “put on the hat of the customer” and what we found was not totally unexpected. However, it was problematic – from the customer’s perspective.

Let’s start with the purpose of the proposal. After submitting a proposal to the customer, what do we expect it to do? If there are six to 10 decision-makers (Gartner), we can pretty much assume that our champions will need to use it to help sell our company and our offer internally—when we’re not there. In order to do that effectively, these champions need to 1) understand it; 2) believe it; 3) be able to explain it. Using these simple criteria here’s what we found:

  • All the proposals spent most of the ink on “why buy us” or “how great we are” with little or no time on “why change anything at all?”
  • Only a handful demonstrated a clear understanding of what the customer was trying to achieve, but none “connected the dots” between those desired outcomes and what the seller was proposing.
  • There was hardly any discussion, much less quantifiable impact, on the cost and risk of inaction or “doing nothing.” And 43% of purchasing decisions (Forrester) result in do nothing or maintaining the status quo.
  • Only a handful of proposals established credibility by demonstrating similar, quantifiable outcomes delivered to other customers. Instead, almost all used the “NASCAR slide” with a bunch of logos.

Imagine what might be possible. Could we use our proposals as a strategic differentiator versus simply a “checkbox” exercise? What if the customer participated in developing the proposal? Not only would our champions understand it, but they would also believe it because it’s now “their deal”—not just our offer. As a result, they would have no problems explaining it to other skeptical decision-makers. How different would we look?

This future is not only possible, it’s here today! Ecosystems is introducing a new module in its SaaS platform to help sellers co-create proposals with customers. With Ecosystems’ pre-built library of outcome templates, a seller can choose the relevant outcomes that relate to different customer personas while the customer can collaborate within The Ecosystem Platform and define their specific success metrics and deal elements. The end result is a co-created proposal with customer buy-in. 

Reach out to us and we’ll show you how to make your proposals a truly strategic weapon in your sales arsenal! Or stop by the Ecosystems booth at @Dreamforce where we can demo the platform for you live.

Good Selling!

Chad and Steve

P.S. @Ecosystems Services just announced at #DF19 a new way to co-create proposals with your customers to win deals. If you’re at #Dreamforce and would like to see this new Ecosystems module, please reach out to sreagan@ecosystems.us.