B2B Sales: Complex Proposals Damaging Your Sales Efficiency? Three ideas you should explore
Updated: Feb 15
Complex proposals are quite usual in B2B sales. The deals are bigger, the value of a customized offering (solution) is as high as the level to which the solution is custom-tailored to the business needs of the specific client.
When I ask a Sales Director of such company how much the preparation of a proposal costs them, they often respond 'Don't ask, too much!' It means it is very high, and they are not really in charge of this cost. And we understand this. Add to the value of expert time used the hidden cost of overloading the best people and delays caused by the bottlenecks, and the dimension of the issue becomes quite impressive.
Here are the 3 impactful concepts worth considering:
Reduce the number of early-stage proposals Check how many proposals you generate possibly too soon. Often, the first proposal is prepared to begin the selling, as the most natural thing to do, but it doesn't need to be so. The early versions of proposals cannot yet be prepared well due to missing information and are actually not yet expected to be a "real proposal" by the client. They just need to get an rough image of what your solution could look like for them and if they could afford it. There are much more cost-effective and better ways of satisfying this need than the costly preparation of a proposal that can even hurt your chances for diverse reasons. One of very good replacements is a properly introduced reference solution presentation.
Build and maintain a repository of reference cases Having a properly organized repository of reference solutions that can be presented to potential clients in the initial phase of the project as "an example of a similar solution" is a powerful tool to avoid the expensive early proposal activities. Of course, it needs well prepared introductory and explanation guidelines for junior colleagues to present them competently.
Build a sellers' toolbox It will allow the sales engineers to draft solutions and proposals by using templates with guidelines on how to select the right template and components based on the typified clients needs. You can start with a simple one, and that may seem not to benefit much, but it can serve as a basis for the constant improvement you would initiate with this. Initially, there will be still much oversight needed, but gradually the savings will grow to as much as 50%.
I've listed three fixes, there are more that can be used. But, initially the most important is this one:
#1 Do look at the cost of proposal preparation and measure them because they can be improved. It is still true - what gets measured, gets done.
The related solution: Proposal Management Solution by Atol