Webster’s defines the word solution as “the answer to a problem.” So why is it that so many sales organizations fervently believe that they are the “preferred solutions provider” in their marketplace, but their sales proposal document makes no mention whatsoever of the customer’s problems and issues? How can we call ourselves solutions providers if we don’t specify in our proposals the problems customers have that we can solve?
When I engage with a new sales training client my first request is for the client to send me what they consider to be their three best sales proposals. The sales proposal is the salesperson’s opportunity to communicate his/her solution to the customer, and sales proposals help me gain a better understanding of how that client’s salespeople sell. Nine times out of ten, I receive a sales proposal that is a comprehensive description of the seller’s “solution” but there’s no information whatsoever about the customer’s current situation and problems! More specifically, the capabilities of the seller’s solution are not linked to explicit customer needs (needs that your customer has described to you, in your customer’s terms). For example, one proposal I read recently espoused “Our focus will be on raising the bar within your Operations Department and empowering your personnel with robust data that can be used to reduce charge backs.” My questions about this “big fat claim” were:
- What problems typically exist within the Operations Department that you can solve?
- Specifically why does this client currently experience charge backs? What types of charge backs would be reduced by your more robust data, and by how much?
- Your answers to questions 1 and 2 need to be differentiated from competitors, both major national competitors as well as “regional low-balls.” Remember, every capability that you present that is not differentiated from your competition moves you no closer to winning the sale.
If your sales proposal is outdated, and does a poor job of communicating your solution to prospective customers, give me a call.