If you’re in the business of selling, and you’re in the business to business game there is no doubt you’ve had someone ask you this:
Can you send me a proposal?
Happy days, right? No. In fact, this is the time that we must ask the question before we send them anything. And in case you’re are wondering, this is the question:
Sure. What has to be in it for it to be a ‘Yes‘?
The reason we have to ask this, is that the proposal question is very often a friendly way of saying, go away, not right now, or we don’t have the budget. It is a nice way to say ‘No’. But let’s be honest that it is just a waste of time and resources for both sides. But if we ask the question instead, we can circumvent a lot of pain for both parties. After the question is asked, one of two things generally happens:
Situation 1: ‘Well, we can’t promise anything…..’ or any other number of excuses arrive. This tells us if they are serious about doing business with us. It forces them to tell the truth now. This is a good thing, very quickly we know where we are at. It informs the work to be done, or it cuts down a dead lead. Any good sales dog or startup entrepreneur hates wasting time on a false positive.
Situation 2: They open up with their real needs, tells us about some internal constraints, disclose budget parameters, or that there is a lot of work to be done to get their boss to approve it. It creates forward momentum, and a collaborative approach. It builds truth and trust which leads to transactions.
Time is our most precious resource. It’s better to live in the real world and have the courage to uncover the truth early.