We’ve attended several weddings this past month – we’re in that stage of life!

And in listening to the stories of these new couples, no matter how they initially met, there was time, shared experiences, and getting to know each other before the engagement proposal.

Premature Proposals Lead to Broken Engagements

Yet in sales…I see buyers ask for a proposal from well-meaning sellers before this “courtship” – and too many sellers anxiously agreeing to put something together.

Here’s the problem with that…premature proposals lead to broken engagements before they actually begin.

An Opportunity or an Assignment?

You see, buyers can ask for a proposal when they want to get rid of you or when they want to end the conversation for many reasons – and by giving you an assignment, they’ve got nothing to lose.

After you spend sometimes hours crafting the proposal, the buyer can receive that proposal – look at it or not – and then play judge and jury with what they see and perceive…and never talk with you again.

The problem is that any proposal you send prematurely isn’t relevant or specific to them and doesn’t show them enough personal value. Therefore it ends up in the trash – electronically or literally.

Let’s stop that dynamic and set ourselves up to invest time and energy in proposals at the right time for the right prospects.

How to Know if It’s Time for a Proposal

Here’s a good litmus test for whether you should send a proposal…

If you can’t connect what you do, specific to them, it is premature. If you haven’t learned enough about them, their situation, and their decision-making process or criteria – you don’t have a high probability of going anywhere with that proposal.

What to Do Instead

What can you do then if they ask for a proposal prematurely?

Take the lead and let them know it’s not yet time. You could say something such as:

I appreciate you want information to look at, and to ensure you have the right information at the right time, let’s have another conversation to further explore your situation first. Then I’ll be able to provide the information that will help you. If I put something together now it won’t be complete and very well may cause confusion.

Of course, you’ll use your own words to craft the response…what’s important is that you don’t get wooed by prospects who are dishing out assignments to you without being engaged themselves.

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