The most successful sales proposals are the ones that you don’t send at all!
Despite the fact that proposals are a staple sales tool, they actually do anything but help salespeople close more deals in less time. In fact, they make selling more difficult than it needs to be.
“But Brian, proposals are an integral part of any high-level sales process!”
Well, choosing not to send another sales proposal again is what grew my business.
Don’t believe it? I’m sharing exactly how choosing not to send sales proposals ever again to potential customers actually helped my business grow.
Sure, keep handing out highly-valuable proposals like free candy, but you’re going to have to deal with:
- Putting in tons of effort with no return
- High opportunity costs
- Prospects who will gladly take your proposal but won't take you seriously
Where’s the Evidence That Business Proposals Help Close Deals?
During the early sales cycle stages, the average sales team invests tons of hours putting together free sales proposals for their potential customers. At the same time, average sales teams have overall sales conversion rates in the single digits...
In other words, this means that a majority of sales teams invest countless time, energy, and resources into free proposals only to convert a minority of leads into paying customers.
Are we going to accept this as normal and okay? Are we really going to say that sales proposals are effective if sending them doesn’t significantly increase the odds that we close deals?
No, no we’re not.
Many Salespeople Get Ghosted After Sending Proposals
How many times have you invested hours into what you thought was a winning sales proposal, only to send it to the prospect and NEVER hear from them again? AKA, you got ghosted!
Not only did you waste tons of time putting together the proposal, but now the prospect has gained a bunch of value for free off of your hard work.
Sending free proposals only to get ghosted isn’t just infuriating, but it’s down-right unfair.
Prospect ghosting is nothing new in the sales world. In fact, a recent survey revealed that more than a quarter of sales professionals say that ghosting negatively affects their mental health.
Despite this fact, most salespeople don’t change their strategy even though it continues to result in ghosting. Meaning, they continue to send proposals to prospects despite the fact that they consistently get ghosted after doing so.
Most Salespeople Get Slammed With Objections After Sending Proposals
If a prospect does end up responding after receiving their proposal, it’s usually in the form of an objection.
For example, a salesperson will send the proposal, wait for weeks to hear back, and then all of a sudden get bombarded with messages like, “This looks cool but I don’t know if we need this right now” or “I’d love to say yes, but this is out of our budget.”
Whenever you get hit with objections right after sending a proposal, it’s hard to recover. More often than not, the potential deal just ends up dying.
Salespeople Usually Have to Wait Weeks Before Getting a Response
In an absolute BEST CASE scenario, salespeople will send a proposal to the prospect but have to wait weeks before they respond and decide to move forward.
While they may not have objections right off the bat, there’s a good chance the prospect will bring them up later.
Just think about it: How many times have you sent a proposal, waited for weeks to hear back, and then finally heard back after many days of waiting anxiously for an email to pop up?
Sure, it feels good to hear back, but it’s at the expense of your own anxieties.
If Proposals Were Effective, Then This Would Happen…
To put it simply, if proposals were effective, then a majority of leads who receive a proposal would convert into paying customers shortly after receiving the proposal.
Proposals are sales tools, and any and every sales tool is supposed to help salespeople close more deals in less time and with less resistance from prospects.
In reality, though, sales reps invest tons of time, energy, and resources into market research other factors into proposals only to:
- Get ghosted
- Get slammed with objections
- Fail to consistently generate new business
If your constant frustration over having to consistently send free proposals wasn’t enough to tell you that they’re not worth it and there are more effective ways to close new deals, then hopefully this is enough for you now!
Here’s What to Do If a Potential Client Requests a Proposal
What should you do if a new lead comes to you and says, “Great! Send us your proposal and we’ll decide if we want to move forward”?
Considering that proposals are basically a given in the sales world, it’s almost guaranteed that a future potential customer will one day ask you to send a request for proposal, or RFP.
When this happens, DON’T immediately give in to their request. Instead:
- Tell the lead that you don’t have enough information on THEM to send an accurate proposal yet
- Offer to meet the following day (or even that same day) to discuss their needs in-depth so that you can better understand them, their needs, and their goals
Moreover, when a prospect asks for your proposal, make a phone call telling them that you don’t have enough information on THEM and their needs to give them an accurate depiction of how you can effectively help solve their pain point.
By doing so, you demonstrate that you’re in the game to help solve their needs and that, like the professional you are, you know that helping them solve their needs doesn’t involve a proposal.
If you get pushback from the prospect, BE PERSISTENT. Continue to follow up letting the prospect know that you’re concerned about their needs and wish to help them achieve their goals. The best sales professionals will continue to follow up until the prospect accepts their invitation to talk further.
While this is a challenging situation to navigate, it isn’t difficult: Just don’t send the proposal! If you’re tempted, remind yourself of just how ineffective proposals have been in the past.
Here’s Why Not Sending Sales Proposals Helps Me Grow My Business
I have achieved SIGNIFICANTLY more business success, and have even been able to grow my business, thanks to not sending free sales proposals to prospects.
Don’t believe it?
Here’s exactly why choosing not to send proposals to my prospective clients actually helps me close more deals, and what I do instead of sending proposals.
I Have More Control Over the Sales Process
For starters, I have significantly more control over the sales process by not sending a free proposal.
Whenever you send a proposal to the prospect, you’re basically passing the ball into their court. You’re handing them the control stick and you can’t get it back until they respond to you.
As a result, you’re left in an out-of-control-limbo, often for weeks on end, wondering whether or not you’re ever going to hear back.
These days, because I don’t send proposals, I’m the one who’s always calling the shots. I’m directing the customer into the next stage of the sales cycle so that I can keep the process moving along quicker.
By doing so, the prospect is able to get their needs met in less time and I close the deal sooner. Moreover, everyone is happier when I’m in control of the process!
Prospective Clients See Me as an Expert, Not a Vendor
Whenever you send a proposal to a prospect, you’re basically asking for them to size you up against your competitors.
As they’re looking over your proposal, they’ll think, “Hmm, is there somebody better/cheaper/more experienced out there?”
Before you know it, they’ll be hitting up your competitors (who you know are way worse than you) for their proposal as well.
The moment you send a proposal is the moment you reduce yourself to a replaceable vendor. It’s the moment in which the prospect thinks to themself that you’re interchangeable with other options.
Unfortunately, being seen as a vendor counteracts business growth.
If you really want to grow your business, you NEED prospects to see you as an irreplaceable expert who they can’t afford to lose if they want to solve their pain points and reach your goals. You need prospects to see you not as an option but as a zero option.
To be seen as an expert, don’t put yourself in a situation to be seen as replaceable by prospects. That said, don’t send them a proposal that’ll cause them to size you up against others and drop you into the vendor category.
I Have More Time to Focus on the Prospect’s Needs
Sales is about your prospects and their needs, yet whenever you send a free proposal after barely getting to know your prospect, you immediately shine the spotlight on yourself instead of them.
While a prospect won’t necessarily tell you that they want the buying process to be all about them and their needs, just know that that’s what they’re thinking.
Therefore, fulfill that unspoken desire by shining the spotlight on them instead of yourself. To do that, spend the time that you would spend writing out and delivering a proposal to talk one-on-one with prospects about their needs.
Dig beneath the surface to uncover:
- What their business goals are
- What the decision-makers want
- What their actual pain points are and the scope of them
Your deliverables, scope of work, and pricing are all important, but you shouldn’t talk about those factors or other proposal-related factors until you’ve understood your prospects on a deeper level.
In the end, prospects will appreciate you for genuinely wanting to understand them and their needs.
My Sales Team Wastes Less Time, Energy, and Resources
Business growth is challenging. By challenging, I mean that it takes a significant amount of time, energy, resource, and not to mention mental/emotional investments.
If you’re a business owner, then you know how it is!
There is a significantly high opportunity cost to putting together sales proposals all the time–just consider how much time it takes you to put together a proposal and all the other things you could be doing with that time.
For example, instead of setting aside hours for a personalized proposal, you could be:
- Optimizing your sales methodologies
- Developing awesome inbound marketing content, like case studies and social media marketing
- Making more cold calls to your target audience
Business growth is challenging, so be deliberate in choosing where to place your attention.
There’s More Time to Focus on Nurturing New Clients
Like I said before, there is a high opportunity cost to sending out proposals.
One that I didn’t mention already is that if you’re spending significant time, energy, and resources on potential customers that are unlikely to respond to your proposal anyway, that means you have less fuel to put into fostering relationships with new and existing clients.
Believe it or not, new and existing clients can offer you some serious business-growth potential.
For example, satisfied clients will likely:
- Offer you referrals;
- Repurchase your product or service over again
- Will help give you insights into your target audience
However, the only way to get these kinds of perks that come with having a strong customer relationship requires you to invest in the relationship.
How can you possibly invest in the relationship when your hands are tied up so much of the time in things like proposals?
The Entire Sales Cycle Shortens
As you already know, sending out a proposal early on in the sales cycle is a set-up for having to wait around days, weeks, and sometimes even months just to get a response.
If the prospect does end up eventually responding, they’ve probably already dragged out the sales cycle to be significantly longer than it needs to be.
Unfortunately for you, the longer the cycle is, the less likely prospects are to close the deal with you because they likely:
- Are already distracted
- Have lost interest
- Have lost any sense of urgency about the deal
Rather than sending out a proposal and literally asking for the cycle to get longer, just don’t send it out!
The shorter and sweeter you keep the cycle, the easier it is to:
- Hold on to the prospect’s attention
- Keep the prospect interested
- Keep urgency to close the deal high
Top sales professionals know that short sales cycles are better sales cycles, and keeping them short and sweet is a simple matter of not sending out a proposal.
Prospects Make Fewer Objections at the End of the Final Sales Pitch
Because, when you send a proposal to a prospect, you’re assuming that they know what they need to solve their pain points. You’re assuming that they know what their pain points are and how to solve them, because you’re offering them the opportunity to look at your proposal and assess whether or not you’re the right person for the job.
However, the truth is that projects don’t have a CLUE about what their pain points really are or how to fix them. If they did, they would have fixed them already.
Therefore, when you send out a proposal to a prospect thinking they’re going to realize you’re the perfect person to help them, understand that the prospect doesn’t have the proper knowledge to know what they need.
As a result, they’re obviously going to make objections.
Sending a proposal to a prospect is like asking a 3-year-old what they want to eat: They don’t know what’s best for them, so when you finally give them options, they’re just going to object to whatever you say.
Bottom Line: Why I Don’t Send Sales Proposals to Potential Customers
If proposals were really as effective as they’re said to be, there would be many more successful sales teams out there.
Moreover, proposals are a prime example of “Just because everybody else is doing something doesn’t mean that you should do it too.”
Bottom line: A great sales proposal is one that you don’t send at all! Whether you want to grow your business, face fewer ghosting prospects, or just be less miserable throughout the selling process, stop sending proposals.
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