The Role of Case Studies in Sales Proposals
A Complete Proposal: 5 Supporting Documents Every Business Proposal Needs
How to Qualify (and Disqualify) Prospects Prior to Sending a Proposal
The prefab business is booming – and for good reason. The combination of affordability and fast production makes the modular home industry extremely appealing to customers. As an entrepreneur, it’s easy to see the appeal. But what does it take to succeed in the modular home industry?The prefab business is booming – and for good reason. The combination of affordability and fast production makes the modular home industry extremely appealing to customers. As an entrepreneur, it’s easy to see the appeal. But what does it take to succeed in the modular home industry?
As a security company, you’re well aware of the importance of the right proposal. Classically, door-to-door salespeople have been responsible for delivering a stellar sales pitch, touting the benefits of home security systems. On a much grander scale, however, is the project of proposing your security solution to another business or institution.
Selling in highly technical industries is very demanding. Not only are the products themselves more complex, but so are the people and targets you’re selling to. This often creates frustration in salespeople, which ultimately manifests itself in the form of poor sales numbers. In order to be successful, you need to understand sales strategies that specifically apply to tech industries.
The 6 tips you need to know
You have to spend some time in technical sales before you can come to fully appreciate its complexities. Sales professionals in other industries have no idea how challenging it is to close deals in such an advanced marketplace. But once you’ve been in the industry for a while, you start to think, “There has to be a better way.”
Implement the following tips and techniques into your current sales approach and you’re sure to see some healthy returns.
1. Create Detailed Buyer Personas
Buyer personas are extremely valuable for sales professionals. They allow you to understand exactly who’s on the other end of the line/table/email and instill some clarity in what’s otherwise an uncontrollable interaction.
However, as a sales professional in a highly technical industry, it’s not enough to have a single buyer persona. It’s very rare that you’ll only interact with one type of prospect, yet many reps think that it’s okay to have one standard persona.
You need different buyer personas based on every possible individual you could interact with. This includes CEOs, VPs, IT professionals, and more. Each of these individuals has a different responsibility. One is a decision maker, another is an influencer, and the other is a gatekeeper.
For example, the CEO will want to know about the big picture and bottom-line stuff. How will the return on investment be measured? The VP will be curious about implementation and impact on employees. The IT pro will want to know specifics about how the technology works and how it will impact current processes. This is why it’s so important to tailor your approach based on who you’re communicating with.
2. Become a better storyteller
In technical sales, you absolutely must become a good storyteller. Since the products and services you’re pushing aren’t exactly the most compelling at times, you have to do your best to offset these disadvantages by drawing people in.
In fact, storytelling is often the best way to make your initial sales pitch. By telling a brief story, you can frame the product in a particular light and grab the prospect’s attention before they tune out and move on with their day. By no means is it easy to become a good storyteller, but you’ll learn over time. The sooner you start developing this skill, the quicker you’ll see results.
3. Avoid premature selling
When you’re speaking with a prospect, your heart often starts racing and all you can think about is closing the sale. Unfortunately, this often leads to premature selling, which can be detrimental.
“‘Forced appointments and communications result in closed sales less than 14 percent of the time,” says Jacques Werth, president of High Probability Selling. “When feeling pressured, prospects who don't commit to doing business on the first visit are even less likely to ever buy - then, the probability of ever getting the sale drops to 5 percent.”
As Werth points out, premature selling does you no good. Resist the temptation to force communication and instead let the process happen naturally. As they say, patience is a virtue.
4. Focus more on value and less on specs
If you’re looking for one simple way to change your entire technical sales approach, then this is the best piece of advice you’ll ever hear: Focus more on value and less on specs. When you focus on value over product specifications, you’re able to speak directly to the prospect’s pain points.
For example, let’s say you’re selling a CRM solution to a small business owner. While you may feel inclined to rattle off specs – such as marketing features, data analysis capabilities, and employee relationship management – the business really just wants to know one thing. Is the solution going to reduce friction between the company and the customers?
Instead of listing off specs, you should be discussing the specific ways the CRM solution reduces friction and the benefits his business will enjoy as a result. That’s how you sell.
5. Choose your words wisely
Technical professionals are notorious for being hard sells. In fact, it’s quite rare for a sales personality to get along with a technical personality. However, you have to find a way to overcome this. One of the keys is to be careful with the words you choose.
“Technical professionals engage in rigorous academic and professional training to earn their degrees and certifications. Word choices are extremely important to technical professionals,” explains Babette Ten Haken, author of Do You Mean Business? “They interpret your words literally. They’re data points that can be designed against. They also think they’re the smartest folks in the room. You know what? They usually are!”
In other words, you have to choose your words wisely. Never throw around superfluous words in hopes that something will stick. Instead, deliver a very strategic message that speaks to who the individual is and what they need.
6. Use product configuration software
Part of sales success is being able to close the deal by offering the right quote and proposal. If you’re still taking a manual approach to pricing, then you’re risking losing sales as a result of your inefficiencies. What you need is a product configuration solution.
With product configuration software, you can implore dynamic pricing schemes that take into account dozens of different quantitative and qualitative parameters and deliver accurate prices every single time. And, somewhat surprisingly, these solutions are quite intuitive!
Try iQuoteXpress Today
If you’re looking for a product configuration software that will allow you to streamline the technical sales process and increase close rates, then look no further than iQuoteXpress. Our proprietary solution makes tracking, quoting, and closing as easy as possible, so that you can focus on building relationships with prospects.
For more information regarding iQuoteXpress – or for a free demo – please reach out and contact us today. We would be happy to answer any questions you may have!
You’ll commonly hear people say, “I’ll do anything but sales” or “I hate selling.” But why do people say this so often? Is it because you can’t make good money in sales? Certainly not! In most cases, it’s because they don’t understand what it takes to be successful when it comes to sales in manufacturing industries.
The fitness equipment industry faces a number of unique challenges in the modern era, thanks in part to advancing technologies and changing consumer expectations that are shaping the sales world for a number of industries. The equipment itself is becoming more advanced, but you’re still selling tangible, manufactured goods, and there will always be a demand for fitness equipment as long as people want to lose weight or stay in shape; even so, if your business wants to grow, or stay alive among the competition, you need more sales to do it.
Many people are unaware of what really goes into designing a modular home. While the potential choices of material and design are fewer than what buyers might see when working with an architect, modular homes are more than just readymade buildings dropped onto a lot. They’re more like Lego sets – a lot of options, but not infinite ones, and not all sets fit together.
Proposal writing can vary from company to company. In more traditional industries, or those with a small sales team, or even those who don’t need the extra business, it’s common to have a rubber-stamp styled approach to proposals. You offer the same products or services, for exactly the same prices, and in exactly the same format for each and every customer. It’s a predictable, factory-like process that creates no stress and is easy for newcomers to understand.
Unfortunately, most businesses would not do well under this model. Their products and services are too diverse, their clients are too picky, and their potential projects are too different for everything to be so perfectly formulaic. Proposals need to be written specifically for the client, and that means a wealth of proactive research before the proposal writing process can even begin.
The Power of Research
Why research? Research gives you information and understanding about your environment. You may think that you know what the client is asking for, but do you really know who the client is? What their values are? What they look for in a partner, other than what they might have mentioned in an RFP? These bits of information can help you to frame and to shape your proposal, but they aren’t always evident on a superficial level, so you have to do some digging if you want to find them.
Research Tips for Proposal Writing
When it comes to researching a proposal, bear these powerful tips in mind:
1. Focus on actionable conclusions.
Throughout your research process, you’ll be tempted simply to absorb information. You might find out a bit more about the history of the company or their current client base, but you must always frame these new ideas in the context of actionable conclusions. Yes, this company has a lighthearted, flexible spirit, but what does that mean for your proposal? It means that a lighter tone will be more approachable, and a flexible service plan may be appreciated. If you don’t tie your insights back to something measurable and actionable, you’ll be left with too many intangible factors, and you won’t get anywhere.
2. Really get to know the brand.
You know what their brand is and what their company does, but if you want to write for them, you’ll need to immerse yourself a little deeper. See what their audience is like: does this brand face any unique challenges with its audience for which you can compensate? See what kind of values this brand has: do they differentiate themselves by giving back to the community? While most proposals are decided on through logic, aligning yourself with the brand’s vision and reputation can give you the edge that you need in a tight competitive spot.
3. Delve into the company’s history.
You know the brand a little better, but where the brand has been before is almost as important in terms of positioning and understanding. For example, have they recently gone through a rebranding process, with new values and a new image? They may be interested in shifting directions in many ways. Have they broken their historical pattern of handling this service internally? It may mean that they’ll need extra handholding and extra control during the execution phase, which you can play up in your proposal.
4. Learn which other companies they’ve worked with in the past.
Most companies have some kind of record of their previous partnerships and vendors. If you dig deep enough, you’ll be able to find this information. For public organizations like governmental bodies and publicly traded companies, you’ll probably also be able to find previous winners of bids. With this information, you’ll be able to pick out key points of commonality and to include those advantages in your proposal to maximize your chances of winning.
5. Clarify their main goals.
Proposal submissions are a projected exchange of value. Your prospective client has a handful of main goals that they want to achieve, which may be stated or implied. If you can help them to achieve these goals, and do so in a way that maximizes your value, you’ll be in a much better position than if you throw out a basic list of services and hope for the best. You have to match those goals as precisely as possible – and show that you know what those goals are – if you want to stand out from the crowd.
6. Look at their competition.
There are a handful of reasons to look at your prospective client’s competition, but one of the most important is to learn how they differentiate themselves. If they offer better customer service, or a better product, or a different brand voice, you’ll need to recognize that somehow, or account for it, when you describe how you’re going to help them. It may also give you more creative ideas for services that they need to be using (i.e., to keep up with the competition).
7. Look at your competition.
It’s also a good idea to look at your own competition while you’re in the running, especially if you suspect that your competitors will be submitting similar proposals. Obviously, you need to stand out, and you need to make a better offer than your competitors can, but to do that, you first need to know what they’re offering. You won’t be able to find the contents of their proposals specifically, but with adequate competitive research, you’ll get the gist of their typical angles.
With these research tips guiding your path to more information, you’ll gain ample new insights about you, your competition, and your prospective clients that can inform your proposals and give you the edge you need to land new deals.
Proposal writing isn’t always straightforward, but it doesn’t have to be hard. If you’re looking for a way to make the entire process easier from start to finish, consider using iQuoteXpress’s CPQ software. Sign up for a no-obligation free trial today, and you’ll get your hands on all of our features and functions without any commitment.