There are six things you should know before rewarding your prospect with a proposal. In order to discover them, you’ll have to conduct a complete qualification of your prospect during the meetings leading up to this point in the sales. Here are the checkpoints. 

1.  You understand the PBOs thoroughly and are able to provide a satisfactory solution.

If you don’t understand the customer’s primary business objectives completely, how can you be sure you can suggest a solution that would be enthusiastically endorsed?

2.  The prospect has to do something – it is NOT an option to keep things the same.

If keeping things the same is an option for the prospect, they might very well select that option.  Problems tend to fall into the “fix it” or “forget it” categories. Unless there’s a compelling reason to change, most find it easier to do nothing.  Find the compelling reason they’d want to go through the hassle of changing suppliers or implementing something new. If they can’t present a compelling case for change, they probably won’t change.

3.  You have access to the decision maker and will make your presentation to him/her. 

You must have access to a decision maker before delivering a proposal. A good rule of thumb is never to make a presentation to someone who can’t say “yes.”  It’s that simple. 

4.  The prospect needs to implement a solution in a time frame that makes sense for you from a business standpoint.

Time kills deals. What’s the point if your prospect doesn’t want to do anything for 18 months? Too much can happen to in the interim to send the deal sideways.

5.  You understand the prospect’s selection criteria, and have a reasonable chance of meeting those criteria successfully. 

What are the top three things they’ll evaluate when selecting a business partner, and why are those things important?  This will give you a good handle on just how good your chances are.  If this is a price-driven deal, for example, and you can’t or won’t compete on price alone, why try to compete at all?  It’s a very competitive world out there and your competitors are trying just as hard to win the business as you are.  You’ve got to know their strengths and weaknesses, how they’re likely to react in certain situations, and how hard they’ll fight for the opportunity that you’re trying to win.

6.  The prospect is considering only a small number of suppliers and is not putting the deal out to every company in the area. 

Generally, “RFPs” are not an optimal type of business to win, since price plays such a major role in the selection process and the opportunity to communicate openly with the prospect is limited. Prospects whose attitude is “the more, the merrier” are more interested in price than a relationship. Finally, increasing the number of options for the prospect decreases your chances of winning.

If you made it through the checklist above with a reasonable chance of proceeding, your job is to now understand what will happen after you deliver the proposal. You must have this conversation BEFORE you provide the information the decision maker is looking for in your proposal. If you wait until after delivering the proposal, you will be in the age-old game of cat and mouse, chasing a decision with endless call backs and delays.