Guest Post: How to turn down a (proposed) proposal

Speaking of proposals (and we have been lately), today’s guest poster sounds more than familiar with the scenario of the labored-over proposal that crashes and burns. Heather Bennett, a NJ-based management consultant and sales force trainer, shares her opinion on how—and when—to close the deal.

You are in a meeting with a prospect, talking about your offering. At some point, the prospect might say, “Sounds great. Send me a proposal.”  Unfortunately, this usually means you haven’t convinced him and he wants the meeting to end.  You might be tempted to leave and commit yourself to creating the greatest proposal in history, spend a lot of time and effort on it, only to lose the deal in the end.

The problem?  Proposals don’t sell…you do. And if you haven’t moved the deal forward in your meeting, even the World Champion of Gold-Medal Proposals is unlikely to do so. Therefore, you should say no to writing them.

Next time a potential client asks for a proposal, ask him what he expects to see in such a document. Price?  Terms? Time frames?  Then address those issues while you are together and promise to send him a confirmation of what you’ve agreed to. This document shouldn’t have any surprises, only a recap of what you’ve already discussed.

You may not come to any agreements with your prospect, but that’s ok. Getting to “no” in the first meeting is a win, if you can avoid spending more time on a lost cause.  So unless your proposals involve diamonds and bended-knees, you should probably stop making them.