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How to Get a Response to B2B Proposals

In honor of our 35 years in the sales training business, we hosted a webinar on best practices for getting responses to B2B Proposals. Because of the overwhelming response to the webinar, we decided to post some of the information on the blog. We polled our newsletter subscribers asking them how often they send out a proposal and hear nothing back. We were shocked to see that an overwhelming 81% of them say that happens to them some - or most - of the time! First of all, we'd bet that most of the people who fall into the 81% are simply emailing their proposals off to a prospect and waiting to hear back. That's nearly always a dead-in-the-water tactic that's destined for defeat. Instead, you should look at building a proposal as an opportunity for discussion and  follow a consistent process while you're building it. Here's the process we recommend:

  1. Listen: Seek to understand precisely what this prospect wants. Identify the metrics or factors that you can deliver on. Listen carefully for what your prospect is really after when it comes to your proposal.
  2. Create One-of-a-Kind Proposals: It's awfully easy to develop a standard template and just tweak it each time. We'd submit to you that your proposals should be unique to each prospect because each prospect's situation will be unique.
  3. Share it with an Internal Advocate: Getting feedback on the proposal before formally presenting allows you to tweak it in a "safe" environment. You're able to go back and adjust anything that's changed or that you missed it.
  4. Test it: Don't accept, "Yeah, this looks fine." from your internal advocate. Instead, test the proposal by asking questions like: "If this makes sense, what would keep us from moving forward?" "Has anything changed?" "What do you think [Joe] will think of this?"
  5. Go over the Proposal in Person: This is so key! Don't simply email the proposal to your prospect and wait. Instead, arrange a time to go over the document in person, on the phone, or on the web with them and use this time to build value.
  6. Keep Pricing Separate: Don't deliver pricing until you've built sufficient value in the minds of your prospects.
  7. Deliver Pricing with Confidence: Ideally, you learned your prospect's budget for the purchase already so you've worked to hit it, so you should be able to deliver it confidently.

Over the coming days, we'll be posting the questions we weren't able to answer on the webinar. They're really great questions ranging from what technology to use to how to handle RFPs and RFIs. What do you think of the process? What questions do you have about proposals? Do you have any best practices you can share? If so, put them in the comments section below. - @JebBrooks