Most salespeople operate from an entirely self-destructive paradigm. They operate with the mistaken belief that it is their job to present proposals and quotes to any potential buyer that requests that they do so.
They unilaterally give proposals and quotes without requiring the buyer to make any commitments or decisions. They willingly give away free and proprietary information in hopes that the buyer may commit to doing business. They make no requirement of the buyer to do anything at all once they received the proposal.
The end result for the sellers are huge numbers of put offs, stalls and think it over’s.
To prevent this from happening, sellers must have the courage and fortitude to extract commitments and obligations from the buyers in order to receive a proposal, quote or presentation.
No other profession willingly gives away free information at no cost or no obligation to their customers. Attorneys don't give free advice. CPAs don't give free advice. Physicians don't give free advice. Only sales people give free advice in hopes that the buyer will be somehow impressed with their presentation, proposal or quote and want to move forward.
There are a number of ways sellers can qualify and extract commitments and obligations from buyers prior to giving a proposal or presentation.
They can get the buyer to agree prior to giving a proposal that the buyer will agree to make a decision about what if anything the next step will be when the proposal or presentation is presented.
Doing this requires the seller to have a very strong upfront conversation with the buyer about what'll happen at the time the presentation or proposal is presented. The seller must be willing to straighten their backbone and have the guts to extract a commitment for a decision prior to giving a presentation or proposal. Failing to do this will almost certainly guarantee a stall or put off when the presentation or proposal is made.
Another courageous but seldom used tactic that should be employed by the seller is to require that the buyer pay for the proposal upfront.
In this scenario, the seller agrees to give a full-blown presentation and proposal and in return the buyer agrees to pay for the proposal. In this case the seller will take possession of the proposal and will be allowed to use the information contained in the proposal in any manner that he or she sees fit.
The seller gets paid for their efforts in making the proposal, and the buyer gets a customized solution. This is a win-win forboth parties and eliminates one party from extracting an unfair concession from the other. This requires skills, guts, a new belief system and abundant mentality on the part of the seller. An additional benefit to the seller is that it positions the seller as someone whose service is in great demand and minimizes or eliminates the perception that he is a beggar. Employing this strategy does not guarantee that the seller will make a sale. It does, however, increase the buyer's respect for the sales person and the self image of the salesperson.
Another strategy to be used by the seller is to quit leaving written proposals with prospects or buyers who fail to make a commitment to move to the next step.
This involves having a very frank and open discussion with a potential buyer before a presentation or proposal is given and explaining to the buyer that contrary to how most companies operate that the sellers company policy is not to leave presentations and proposals that contain proprietary information. Adopting this policy will minimize or eliminate the ability of the buyer to use the seller’s information to negotiate a better deal from a competitor. Again this requires guts, discipline and a change in beliefs that somehow potential buyers will balk at this approach.