Say this to yourself out loud: I only submit a proposal to a prospect once the prospect has ASKED for it. This will force you to SELL FOR THE ASK. If you simply offer up the proposal, you are suggesting it and it is not time…KEEP SELLING
KNOW that a Client should ASK for the proposal. If they haven’t they are not ready. If they accept it because you suggested it, they will most likely never read it!
Once a prospect does request your proposal, find out who will review it? What are their roles? Are their other vendors or solutions being considered at the same time? Are there other proposals that are already being considered? Are the from Internal/external parties? Find out if there are other conversations or topics to be aware of that affect the evaluation? These are all important points when determining how to craft your proposal. It is also essential to know the proposal goal? Are their subsequent stages in the process? Will there be subsequent meetings? Know the roadmap BEFORE YOU SUBMIT the proposal. You may want to withhold pricing so as to not open up the negotiation too early or be used in someone else’s negotiation. And most importantly, find out what the contracting cycle look like at the company? How does procurement work? What about legal? If the business selection and negotiation process is followed by a procurement negotiation and a legal review, withhold some wiggle room upfront. If there is an extensive legal review, be prepared to seek out a parallel-path review of a blank agreement with legal later in the process in an attempt to shorten the sale cycle.
THINK & ACT. Always take the time to QUALIFY what the proposal should comprehend – don’t assume that your boilerplate will be right. Qualify the preferred format and deliverable preferences / expectations of the client. PRESENT your proposal as high up as you can get – you are the expert so get your day in court. Gather intelligence about the process in advance; what have previous vendor experiences been like? That is great insight. Have your champion share previous paths that have been taken by him/her on previous projects. Find out about historical land mines obstacles and people you may encounter. And remember, DO NOT SUGGEST PARALLEL PROCESS (procurement / legal) AT THIS STAGE. Its premature.