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Salespeople: How to know if a proposal request is a stall

It often is, but here's a work around


Studies show people buy or change for emotional reasons but justify it intellectually. If you get a request for a proposal before you’ve asked the right questions, and before your prospect has shared the compelling emotional impact of what they need to fix and their reasons, this can be a stall.

If the request for a proposal comes at the end of one or more meetings, and the prospect has shared the critical information I’ve already mentioned, it could still be a stall.

Why? Many times the prospect is trying to get “unpaid consulting” from you and often will use your information and knowledge to justify why they picked who they have already picked, or justify why they're staying with someone they’re already buying from. When that prospect takes your proposal to the incumbent vendor and asks, "Can you do this?” that incumbent vendor/competitor isn't going to say no. You just unknowingly provided in your free proposal help for that incumbent to close and secure more business.

When is it not a stall or a put off? Seldom. Do you deal with it in a way that takes away the stall, or do you send a proposal and hope you get the business?

Here’s an alternative:

You: “I could send you a proposal, however what is going to happen when I send you a proposal? Suppose you like what you see, and you truly believe I’m the one who can solve “xyz” ― what would happen next and why?“

This forces them to make a verbal commitment (I call it a Verbal Upfront Contract/Agreement), to next steps. If they can’t or won’t answer that, you know it’s a stall.

Once you get their answer.

You: “So let’s suppose I do a draft proposal, you invite me back and we review the proposal, and I answer questions you might have to make sure and confirm I have addressed and provided solutions you are looking for. Make sense?”

A couple of notes: Always do in draft form till you get their feedback to see if you should do a final form proposal. The “invite me back” is a test. If their request is a stall, they won’t do this, and you now know it’s a stall.

If you ask the right questions to find their pain, often they will agree to this Upfront Contract.

By the way, make this request before you present your proposal. Otherwise, odds are you are again stuck in not knowing if you have a stall, put off or buying interest

So you have a choice.  Test the waters to find out if it’s a stall, or submit a proposal and hope versus being productive.

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Gary Harvey

Gary Harvey is the founder and president of Achievement Dynamics, LLC, a high performance sales training, coaching and development company for sales professionals, managers and business owners. His firm is consistently rated by the Sandler Training as one of the top 10 training centers in the world. He can be reached at 303-741-5200, or gary.harvey@sandler.com.


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