Very rarely do we get it right the first time around. This is true in everything, from baking a pie to painting a picture to riding a bike to the proposal management process.
In all our years in B2B selling, we have never seen a first-time salesperson’s first proposal attempt be “one for the ages.” What we usually see is something that needs work—that is, revision.
And this is not a bad thing. In fact, every revision made is a great thing because you’re not just revising, per se—you’re optimizing. And the more you optimize, the closer you get to “The Perfect Proposal.”
Opportunities to optimize!
Sometimes it’s fixing a typo, sometimes it’s adding a new product, feature, or service, sometimes it’s changing a price, but every revision you make serves one purpose: refining how you’re targeting and communicating with your prospect.
And when you’re using a CPQ system, these revisions are not standalone, either. They get saved and incorporated in the next similar proposal—i.e., it’s not just people who are learning from revisions being made; it’s your proposal management process itself.
Revisions are based on feedback, and feedback is a gift
Don’t confuse revisions of your quotes and proposals as an empty grammatical exercise. You are not just making changes to your language or your proposal template (although that’s often an outcome), but are in fact fine-tuning the nature of how you prospect.
Which is why the feedback you get from your colleagues matters—“tell them about this discount… don’t forget your contact information… it’s ‘your’ not ‘you’re,’ etc.”s—but the feedback you get from prospects is the real difference maker.
And you’ll learn just as much from proposals that fail as from those that succeed. In most every case, it’s just a matter of continuing the conversation with the prospect: “We understand you went with Competitor X instead of us; we’re sorry we couldn’t partner with you, but we’re hoping to learn what may have fueled your decision.”
The feedback they’ll give you should be poured into the next proposal you send out. And if you can get a look at the winning proposal from Competitor X even better (a learning gained from the success of others is still a learning).
The proposal management process—especially for companies that have automated with a configure price quote solution—is a dynamic process, one that’s fine-tuned and optimized as often as possible. And revisions are the cornerstone of this process, so make as many as possible as often as possible.
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