Hundreds of Sales Proposals – but where are the contracts?

I know a sales person, let’s call him John. John is an engineer who works for a company selling complex solutions. Despite being in sales, John’s real strength lies in engineering. Every month John visits his clients and potential clients and churns out proposal after proposal.

Each proposal takes up a lot of John’s time as he is careful to translate the clients’ detailed wishes into implementable suggestions. Despite the many well-written proposals sent out, John only gets a few firm contracts. What is happening here?

John is obviously being abused by his clients. He is known for his good engineering skills and his precise specifications. All his clients give him their demands to begin with and then they pass on his proposals and ideas to his competitors.

If you are selling complex solutions and are affected by behaviour like this, training yourself to only process those demands which have a real chance of going any further is important. You need to have clear choice criteria. When choosing which clients to work for you should base your decision on the strengths and weaknesses of your company: “Which order would suit us and which would not?”

You also need to consider the client’s history: “How often has this client invited us to tender over the last three years and what percentage of these invitations to tender has then resulted in a contract?”

If you do decide to submit a proposal then before you begin writing find out how many suppliers have been invited to tender. The higher this number is, the smaller your chances are statistically. If responding to an invitation to tender costs you a lot of time and money, you should not be afraid of asking the client how many other companies have been invited to tender for this contract.

Establish an offer-to-contract database. Most companies do not fail as a result of badly structured proposals, but because they do not know which projects have the best chances of success. A data base can, therefore, provide you with useful information when selling complex solutions.

If John only been trained to do these and other simple things, it would pay dividends and land him and his company more contracts. If you are a "John" - or you are John's Manager - then check out our range of sales training open courses