Steve’s Blog

Steve’s Blog

WHAT WE LEARNED AFTER REVIEWING 100 B2B PROPOSALS


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:

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OFFER TO HELP YOU CLOSE “MUST-WIN” Q4 DEALS


Tomorrow is November 1, which means Q4 is officially 1/3 of the way through. Realistically, it is more than halfway done when you consider the interruption to “selling days” caused by the holiday season and customer vacations. If you’ve hit quota already, congratulations!

If you’re still counting on one or two “must-win” deals to get you over the line, let’s talk about that. I’m betting you want to ensure the customer is excited about doing a deal; you’ve made it easy for them to buy (and sell internally); and you are prepared to make it a quick negotiation. Here is my offer to you or anyone you know that might be in the same situation.

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“PRICE ONLY” NEGOTIATIONS: PRICE OF WHAT?


Given that it is now the do-or-die Q4 for many companies, I thought this topic was timely. While this occurred several years ago, I remember it like it was yesterday. After months of intense selling, providing technical “demos” and submitting a formal proposal, my client was now bracing for what they believed would be a tough “price only” negotiation with procurement.

They had dealt with this procurement manager when negotiating the pilot program, almost a year previously and committed about every negotiation sin you can name (conceded on price, gave away valuable services for free, etc.—all without trading for anything). To make matters worse, this was the biggest opportunity in the company’s pipeline for Q4…

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Do Your Closed Deals Advance Your B2B Business Strategy?


After months of intense work, your company has developed a new business strategy in response to competitive market forces perhaps in order to boost anemic sales and/or increase lagging profits or enter new markets.  Executives have identified and communicated the strategy (objectives, scope and advantage), Ideal Customer Profile and corresponding desired market segmentation. This, of course, led to a realignment of the sales organization, new sales roles and a change to sales compensation. In addition, the entire Marketing program has been revamped to get the right message out to the target market and to arm the sales force with the appropriate collateral material.

I’m sure most of you have been through some or all these changes in your career – and they can be extremely disruptive, especially to short term sales. No organization undertakes these changes lightly and some do so because they have no choice.  However, the right strategy when well executed, can dramatically change the fortunes of the business. In this post I want to discuss one key aspect of executing a new business strategy that is too often overlooked.

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THE COMPELLING PROPOSAL” HIT KIRKUS REVIEWS!


I wanted to let you know that “The Compelling Proposal” was just reviewed by Kirkus Reviews and the review was very positive! 

I didn’t realize this was actually a big deal until my wife informed me that authors (you know, real ones that write for a living) vie to get a review from them and live and die by their published reviews.

Thanks for your support!

Steve

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WHEN FAILING TO CLOSE IS NOT AN OPTION, DON’T FAIL TO USE OPTIONS!


In previous posts, we’ve explored the reality of significant uncertainty today in any complex B2B sale, such as “What Is Causing Uncertainty?”. As we’ve discussed, we will almost never have perfect information – and, in truth, we can’t have perfect information. This would require all of the customer’s buying influencers to be perfectly aligned on the outcomes they want to achieve and to basically be experts in what they are buying – meaning they can easily “connect the dots” between those desired outcomes and the best solution to deliver them. Think of the risk we’re taking on!

Add to that, the dynamic of being “sold to.” How many of us can’t wait for another telemarketing call during dinner when we are at home? How many of us appreciate hard sell tactics when we are at the car dealership or shopping for a major appliance? I would bet not too many (my experience is salespeople as some of the hardest to sell to – just saying).  Don’t we all want to feel we are making an informed decision? Aren’t we more willing to part with our money when we get to participate in the buying decision? And yet, too often we act like these aren’t important considerations to our B2B customers. The inevitable result is lower conversion rates and extended sales cycles with a heavy emphasis on price/discounts.

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