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Your Week 5 Challenge: Win the Sale

[Please note: this article, and the rest of the articles in this series, together constitute the 15  emails in the It Starts with Clients Client Growth Challenge. Please subscribe here to receive them on a weekly basis over the next 100 days]

In Week 5 of this challenge, you’re going to learn to master some further, important sales strategies. Be sure to read Week 5 of It Starts with Clients, as it provides in-depth treatment of a number of important business development concepts. BTW, If you don’t have a copy of It Starts with Clients yet, please do buy one here, on Amazon (or from your favorite bookseller). The detailed “how-to” in it is the foundation of the 100-Day Challenge.

Why proposals fail

Let me highlight some common reasons why proposals fail. This is a really important topic, since so much time and energy is invested in writing proposals. Achieving a better ROI on your proposal efforts can dramatically affect your growth and profitability.

  1. It’s not the right client for you to begin with. There’s not a good match in terms of the client need and your capabilities, and/or chemistry and style.
  2. You write the proposal for the wrong client executive. They don’t fully “own” the problem and/or they are not senior enough to make a decision and hire you.
  3. You submit a proposal without having met with the actual decision maker or decision makers (a variant of #2).
  4. You accept the client’s definition of the problem, instead of trying to reframe it for maximum impact. As a result, and especially if there are other providers competing, you commoditize your offering and compete head-on with everyone else.
  5. The people from your firm who make the proposal pitch will not be involved in the delivery. This smells like “bait and switch” to clients.
  6. You come across as generic and your proposal does not reflect the unique characteristics of the client’s business and of their needs.
  7. The client is not clear about what they really want to do, so your proposal lands in the middle of indecision.
  8. Your benefits case–your estimate of value and impact–is weak and therefore your proposal cannot attract budget.
  9. You don’t understand the client’s buying process, and so you essentially stumble blindly through the sale, ending up in a muddy pit…
  10. You don’t add enough value in the sales process or in the proposal itself, so the client doesn’t feel strongly about buying from you.
  11. There is insufficient trust that you are the best, highest value alternative (to competitors and to internal efforts).
  12. You’ve made the “rational” sale but not the “emotional/personal” sale. E.g., how will you help the client achieve their performance goals this year? How will the sale advance their career and/or help them achieve a key win?

TIP: If you work the right, collaborative sales process with your client, the proposal will simply be a written memorandum of an engagement you’ve both already agreed to!

If you work the right, collaborative sales process with your client, the proposal will simply be a written memorandum of an engagement you've both already agreed to! Share on X

Your Week 5 Challenge: Win the Sale

Here’s your Week 5 Assignment: Complete pages 22-23 in the Growth Guide. Use the assessment to check how well you are doing, for a specific business development opportunity, against four key factors. You can also click here to download this assignment as a separate PDF: Week 5 Assignment.pdf

In seven days I will send you your Week 6 Challenge: Free Up a Stuck Sale. So keep an eye out for the next email.

All the best,

Andrew Sobel

Founder and CEO

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