You are working with a prospect or customer and desperately want to sell them something. You meet with different people in the organization and they take your meeting. You offer to take people to lunch, dinner, golf, boating excursions – you get the drill. They are happy to meet with you. And now, they ask you for a proposal or to complete an RFI/RFP, and you jump all over it. Why? Just because the buyer asked.
Many sales people would do it because they asked, but should you?
Would it be the best use of your time
? It may be and it may not be. It depends on what preceded the request. Let’s take a look.
When it makes sense:
- You have met the key stakeholders and clearly understand their goals and priorities
- You understand their decision criteria and buying process
- You have confirmed there is sufficient funding
- You have been running ideas by the prospect or customer to gain their agreement that your solution can help them meet their goals
- You have either provided a sample RFI/RFP as a guide (they often use a high percentage if not all of what you provided), or have helped them to construct it
- You have validated that what you are going to propose satisfies their goal(s), provides minimal implementation risk, and can be delivered on time
- In essence, you are aligned to your sales process and your buyer’s buying process
When it does not
- You can only get them to meet with you if you buy them lunch, dinner, drinks, or a golf outing
- You have had many meetings, but you have been talking more than listening
- You have told them over and over again why you are the best without really knowing what there are trying to solve
- You have spent tons of time with people who are not the decision makers
- You have not done much qualification to see if you can help them in any way
- You provide whatever they ask for just because they asked
- In essence, you are not aligned to your sales process or your buyer’s buying process
Your time is precious and you want to use it wisely. Don’t get excited just because the buyer asked you for a proposal or something else. If you are doing all the work and they are not reciprocating in time or access, then first decide if this is the best utilization of your time. Or, ask the buyer to help you get a better handle on what they are trying to accomplish by giving you access to executives
and others involved. In essence, ask for the time to do the right type of qualification in order to prepare a proposal or RFI/RFP.
If they do not allow you access, then maybe you should think twice about how you utilize your time. Don’t spend hours, days and weeks on something just because the buyer asked.
Janice Mars, principal and founder of SalesLatitude, is a senior business and sales executive with more than 30 years of experience helping companies build successful sales teams. She has parlayed that experience to help her clients to improve their sales processes, accurately forecast revenues, ensure focus on winnable opportunities, and attain consistent results.
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Image courtesy of digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.