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    Issue 36

    July  12, 2020


    How to negotiate a winning proposal

    What not to do when you’ve lost a deal  


    If you sell or manage big deals, this week’s Driven contains 2 articles you’ll find useful.

    So heads up if you’re a sales leader, an individual contributor, or a CEO who sells.

    In this issue…

    • Are your sellers doing everything they can to prepare and submit winning proposals? This article shares 6 pro tips that even experienced sellers may overlook.
    • What about the deals you’ve lost? Have you learned the important lessons they can teach you? Here’s advice on what not to do.

    Reading time

    Your reading time will be about 5 minutes. That’s if you read every word, at 200 words per minute.


    6 key things to do before you prepare and submit a big proposal

    How well do you coach your sellers before they submit proposals for big deals?

    Here are 6 lessons I’ve learned.

    Most come from personal coaching I got from the late Jim Camp.

    He wrote 2 well-known books on negotiations.

    1. View your prospect as a respected adversary.

    During a long sales cycle, you’re likely to develop a close relationship with your prospect.

    Maybe you even see them as friends.

    But when it comes time to discuss deal terms, they are adversaries.

    They want more, and they usually want it at your expense.

    If you treat your prospect as a respected adversary, you’re likely to be more careful about what information you share.

    2. Ask what it will take to win the business.

    This is so simple. But many sellers don’t do it.

    You must ask for the information you need.

    If your prospect wants you to win the business, they’ll tell you how.

    If they won’t tell you, it’s a signal that…

    • They haven’t thought it through.
    • They’re an inexperienced buyer of the products you sell.
    • They don’t want you to win. They may prefer a competitor.

    Each is a red flag. Recognize that you’re facing strong headwinds.

    Consider whether you want to invest the effort.

    3. Think beyond pricing.

    Sure, your prospect cares about pricing.

    But other aspects of the deal are likely to be more important.

    What are they? Here are a few:

    • Their trust in you and your company.
    • Their perception of risk.
    • Your knowledge of their industry.

    Ask them about their decision criteria.

    If they keep returning to pricing, educate them about the other important criteria you think they might consider.

    Teach them about the value you offer and how it sets you apart.

    If they still care mainly about price, don’t propose unless you’re confident of being the low-cost provider.

    3. Don’t let your proposal take your prospect by surprise.

    Always discuss the key elements before you prepare and submit a proposal in writing.

    Your prospect should always know what to expect.

    Your mantra should be, “No surprises.”

    If your proposal differs too much from what your prospect expects, you may lose the deal then and there.

    4. Get initial feedback in real time, by phone or in person.

    Don’t use email to communicate deal terms.

    By reviewing your proposal in person or by phone, you’ll get more insight into their reactions

    You need to hear a voice so you can read between the lines of your opponent’s response.

    It’s even better if you can read their body language by video or in person.

    5. If your prospect’s first reaction makes think you should revise your proposal, do so before you share it in writing.

    The written version of your proposal may be your last chance at bat.

    So make sure you’ve made it as compelling as you can.

    6. Set an appointment with your prospect to discuss the proposal you’ll submit.

    Ask your prospect to commit to a specific time and date to review your proposal.

    Do this before you agree to submit it.

    Many prospects will go silent after they receive your proposal. This leaves you in a dark limbo.

    Once your prospect has received your pricing and terms, they may feel they have everything they need to decide.

    Then they might use your information to negotiate with a vendor they prefer.

    Your prospect may not tell you they’ve chosen a competitor until after the deal is done.

    Meanwhile, your management will ask for progress reports. You’ll be frustrated that you can’t provide any.

    Don’t put yourself in the position of begging your prospect for followup. You’ll sound needy, and you’ll feel weak.

    When your prospect has committed to a time and date to review your proposal, they’re less likely to ghost you.

    Take it as a bad sign if they break their agreement.

    If they’ve chosen against you, they’re less likely to care about torching the relationship.


    Don’t trust the reasons your sellers give for why they’ve lost important deals

    Why shouldn’t you trust your sellers on this?

    Here are 3 reasons:

    • The seller may not know the real reason for the loss. Often the prospect won’t tell them the truth. They want to avoid unpleasantness.
    • The seller’s opinion may be biased. Sellers almost reflexively blame the product or the price – even when neither is a deciding factor.
    • The seller may know the real reason but won’t share it. Why? Because it will make them look bad. Maybe the seller’s been outsold.

    What to do instead

    Run an independent win/loss review by someone outside of sales.

    Have a reliable but neutral party call the person who led the customer’s buying process.

    Your caller might say something like this:

    “I’m responsible for customer experience at [caller’s company]. “We recently participated in a buying process at [decision maker’s company]. 



    “I understand your company didn’t chose us as your vendor. 



    “I’m not calling to try to change that. 



    “I hope you can give me a few minutes to tell me how we can do better next time. 



    “Do you mind giving us some guidance?”


    The State of Demand Gen podcast. Episode 7. Chris Walker. Gaetano Di Nardi. On iTunes, Spotify, and other podcast distribution channels.


    In next week’s issue, look for articles on these topics:

    • How marketers go wrong in creating content for high-consideration sales (and how sellers can help)
    • What to do when key customers won’t agree to do a case study

    Also in the works

    I’m also considering stories about 5 new topics

    You can help set priorities by clicking on the ones that interest you.

    When you click the button below, you’ll go to a separate window in your browser. It’ll take only a few seconds.

    Here are the topics:

    • It’s time to rethink the role of BDRs and SDRs in high-end SaaS
    • Effective social media for high-end B2B SaaS
    • Book review of Jeb Blount’s new title, Virtual Selling
    • Why revenue leaders must be agents and facilitators of change
    • Should you invest in producing more–or any–video content? (And how to do it without breaking the bank.)


    That’s it for this week.

    Please share this issue with colleagues or friends who will find it useful.

    Have a great week.


    Dave Vranicar


    Driven is a free weekly email for hyper-busy revenue leaders in business-to-business SaaS companies.

    Its goal is to keep you informed about a broad range of topics related to revenue growth.

    We scan the horizon for insights and ideas from sources you may otherwise miss.

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