The Dangers of “Over-Proposing”

I lost a deal today. Yep, it happens to all of us.

Usually, salespeople want to make sure that our prospects have choices when proposing goods and services. It’s the way things have evolved – and it’s a problem if we can’t control ourselves! I have seen – and have been guilty of – the sales syndrome I am hereby naming “toomanychoiceitis” or its other name, “overproposingitis.”

The idea is to get our prospects to say “yes” to our proposals in a reasonable timeframe. We all get that, and it’s what gives us the energy and the strength to keep pushing on! In the spirit of getting business done and doing the right thing by our clients and prospects, here are the six rules for the right way to propose and close the business.

  1. Propose based on the discovery that you have done with your prospects. Offering a solution based on what you think you heard or what you think they need without having the data or dialog to support your assessment is a fast road to a “no.”
  2. Offer TWO choices. As soon as we start offering way too many choices and give prospects too much to think about, they will freeze, and then no decision happens. Proposing is about making it EASY to do business with you and offering a logical path for them to be successful…and making it easy to say yes.
  3. Place a deadline on your proposal. Your prospects’ time is valuable, and so is yours. If you suggest that you need a decision by a certain date to be able to schedule the work, this helps them feel confident that if they choose you, they will get the services on a schedule that is a win-win.
  4. Stop thinking! The longer you mentally debate every minute aspect of the proposal, the longer it will take to get it done, and the longer the proposal will be. People don’t want long, detailed, and overly complex proposals. They want to see a crisp and clear (and short) document that reflects your understanding of what they need and how you will provide it.
  5. Deliver the proposal in person. ASK for the opportunity to deliver the proposal in person. It’s harder to say no that way, and it’s easier to get a sense of any objections you may encounter. Proposal review and debate via email is just not efficient, and much more gets done in person.
  6. Nothing can replace YOU. Your proposal is not a salesperson and it’s at best a document to work from to further your discussions and to provide a mutual opportunity to discuss, refine, and build the relationship. If you miss a detail or are not sure how to present something, bringing it up in person is the best opportunity to discuss and resolve it.

Try these six rules out for yourself, and I am sure that you will see a difference in how you’re perceived, received, and welcomed by your clients and prospects. Selling is about you and your ability to match what you do to what is needed. The proposal is just one tool to help prospects see and learn about you. Use it wisely.

14 thoughts on “The Dangers of “Over-Proposing””

  1. Great article and, as usual, great advice! Especially the part about building relationships. It seems like a no-brainer, but we forget that sometimes in this culture.

  2. I find that a good strategy to avoid this problem is to let the client guide the conversation. If you position your products properly the client will usually tell you what the appropriate course of action is for them. It never hurts to let the client feel that they were the the one who came up with the course of action

  3. Like you said, it happens to all of us. I take what you offered here as a reminder to myself of the specific things I want to remember every time I step inside someone’s door. Thanks for the list… just added a check mark on my To-Do list!

  4. Great article and pointers. I particularly like the point to ‘stop thinking’ and just do a clear and concise proposal. I know I, at times, over think what they really need and just need to give them the basics and what they want…and be the best at what you do. Thanks again for some great pointers!

  5. Great tips to get prospects to say yes – which is why #5. Deliver the proposal in person is so important. Salespeople are caught up in the electronic age and use email too often to deliver the proposal and then wonder why the prospect didn’t call back or take their calls. If the prospect is out of town and a return visit isn’t available – set a skype appointment to deliver the proposal! Because #6 Nothing replaces you! Thanks for the good tips Todd!

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