The proposal in the sales process is the last moment we get to bridge our relationships from prospects to clients. This is the last moment we get to show them the very best of us and ask "Are you ready to continue on this relationship"?
So why do so many people get this critical step wrong?
Why do so many people confuse this document with everything that a proposal shouldn't be, or send it through the worst possible way "I'll email you something".
Could you imagine proposing to your significant other that way?
Hey baby, want to get hitched? I've attached the terms of the marriage. Please contact me if you have any questions <email send>
That's why despite what goes into the 6-slide proposal you ALWAYS want to make sure this is a face-to-face interaction. You are giving the very best of yourself. You are there for the client.
And if you can be physically face-to-face?
You book this as a Zoom meeting, you do a screen share, and you watch the person's facial reactions as you go through each slide.
Get this wrong, and you wasted all the time and energy getting the client to this point.
If you send the proposal, you may as well have put a price on a post-it note, because when a proposal is sent via email, the first place the client goes to is the price. You discounted the entire relationship to the size of the ring.
Here are the slides that go into the 6-slide proposal
1. The Client's Goals
Anytime a client buys anything they want to know - does this help me get closer to my goals in some way.
The client's goals are usually something that is one to three years (or maybe more) out.
This is what the client wants regardless if they choose to buy or not. This is where they ultimately want to be.
This could be anything: top employer, greater revenue, applying for a series B of funding, opening up new locations across the country.
It doesn't matter.
What does matter is if you get this slide wrong you should throw out the rest of the proposal and apologize for wasting the client's time.
No one is going to buy anything if you can't tell me you understand where I want to be in the future and whatever actions I take with you will help support me to get there.
2. Current State and Consequences of Being There
As we learned in creating value from the client, this is not going to be what we tell the client what the issue will be for them if they don't change, but rather what has the client told you will be the issue if a change doesn't happen?
Through the questions that you asked in the sales cycle, you want to know from the client how bad it could get for them in their own words if they choose to do nothing over the next three to six months (or maybe longer depending on the length of time it take you to implement a solution).
3. Ideal State and How It Will Feel
This is the first time we articulate the client's emotional state in the proposal. Yes, even in business-to-business emotional intelligence has a critical role to play in the sales cycle.
From here I want the client to be able to articulate what the future will be like three to six months after the solution is in place.
Think of this as the sale after the sell.
What will it be like when I'm already implementing the solution? How will things be easier? More efficient? Help me to become more profitable?
This slide should easily show the client that by getting this far it will be easier to get to the overall goals faster.
The ideal state should easily fit into the overall goals and ultimately help to make the entire transition from "I want that and don't know how I will get there" to "I can see how I can do this"
If you have been following my content for a while, think of this from the perspective of the Destination vs. Transportation and how the airline only gets you to the Cancun Airport vs. to the actual beaches of Cacun.
You get on the plane because the beach is where you want to be. You buy into the ticket, but once you exit the plane, the airline wipes their hands clean because that's as far as they go.
4. Your Solution
One of the reasons I prefer the proposal to be a slide deck as opposed to a document is that it forces you to be concise with the information you present to the client.
Your solution should only focus on the results of the product or service, not a feature dump of everything that it is.
It's not about what the service is but what it does.
You should be able to describe the features based on how they will impact the result that client will receive, not what it is.
We don't buy a plane ticket because of the number of seats in a plane, that it uses a certain brand of seat back TVs or that has a certain size of overheat bin space. None of that matters to you when you are booking a flight somewhere. (Granted, it may affect the experience when you are on the plane, but as long as you get what you paid for - arriving to your destination on time and safely, you usually forget all about everything else once you're on that beach).
Your client's want to only know how your product or service will help them achieve their goals faster.
This. This is your closing slide.
Most people think the closing slide is the pricing page. WRONG.
The pricing page will tell us how much the prospect needs to invest.
But the timeline will tell us when we need to invest by.
The longer we wait, usually the more expensive, and the negative impact it will have on the client by delaying the decision.
This could cost us potential revenue, delayed solutions, longer times to implement, and likely a delay in future investments and decisions into the company.
The irony is that this is usually one of the first areas we ask about from our client in the BANT stage of the sales process.
We want to know when the client wants to be finished the project, and what will happen next as a result of that completion.
Once the client understands that it's not about when they start the project, but when they want to reap the benefits of the result of it, it will move the sales cycle to close faster.
6. Investment with Return on Investment
Finally, it is time to show the client what the investment will be for them to receive all this benefit to their company and their life.
The most important being that as a prospect I am not going to invest in anything unless there is a way to show me how my $1 investment is going to turn into $4 or $10 or even more.
This is where a lot of solution providers get stuck. How do I quantify the ROI for a client?
They will spend hours doing research on industry statistics and finding out what other companies have claimed they received as results.
The problem with this is that despite the "facts" the client's will think to themselves, "that may work for that business, under those economic conditions, when you're trying to sell to those clients, but we're unique and different, and that will likely not apply to us".
Anything we tell a client is up for skepticism. Anything the client tells us is their truth.
It is not up to you to tell the client their return on investment. It's up to you to ask the questions and to get them to tell you.
Want to learn more?
For even more detail check out the full replay of the webinar above.
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