Article 9 – Proposing When You Can't Close Fast Enough to Satisfy Your Enterprise Customer

Is it a problem when the enterprise customer wants to close the deal before you thought you were ready? Without negotiating a price?

And what about that long proposal you always use?

One side effect of a good design session {{Sales and Service Excellence XX/YY/ZZ Page A}} is that the customer is really excited about getting their solution. Your sponsor and the stakeholders see a path to closure for one of the top problems on their list. They want to get down that path fast.

You want to close quickly, so do they. With this process it's common for the senior manager in the room to turn to you and ask how soon you can have a proposal on his or her desk.

The wrong answer is: "Tomorrow."

The right answer is: "30 minutes."

That eliminates the long proposal your company might usually use. Instead it mandates a proposal of no more than a page and a half.

Crafting the Winning Proposal

To do this, stay in the meeting room after the design session and use your laptop. Write up what I am going to suggest, and then send it to the nearest printer.

Your proposal should be a letter from you (representing your company) to the sponsor. Your letter/proposal should answer only these questions:
1 - How all of you in the design session define success,
2 - What you will do to make sure that happens (take no more than two sentences to do this),
3 - When you'll have it done (this will be determined by the success criteria),
4 - What the overall costs will be (this comes from the estimate by the stakeholders in the design session),
5 - What your costs will be,
6 - Any important assumptions, and
7 - That you will go forward with an OK on from the customer on this letter, subject to all your normal terms and conditions.

What is missing here? The page after page on how wonderful your features are, the incredible detail you will follow to do a great job, all your references, that long contract you might have, an inch of sales material, the inevitable typos, a 3-ring binder, and a week of delay. No features, no functions, only benefits.

Why Go Short With A Proposal

Why is it missing? Because all the decision makers know what is important to them. They know:
A - What they agreed to in the design session.
B - The overall plan (although you should make sure you document it for later).
C - That you are a key part of it, and what your price is.
D - That they all said yes to all of that.
E - That they want the solution and people who get in the way are a problem.

The key stakeholders and sponsor in the enterprise are sold on you and your product as part of a larger solution. And they want to move. Now.

So, they will not read the extra pages. They are done reviewing things. If you ask them to read a binder, you will be getting in the way. Don't delay your close.

Instead, hand your page long proposal to the sponsor and sit in her or his office until he or she can read it. Then ask two questions:
1 - Is all that what you agreed to?
2 - Will you OK it so we can start?

If you do a good design session, this works 9.5 times out of 10. You'll leave with a signed document that contractually obligates that customer to pay you the price you asked.

Now the ball is in your court, and you have to deliver. Start the delivery process, then celebrate. You are just getting started on the next quick and profitable enterprise sale.