While the title is a tongue twister…it’s also so true!
Premature anything in our selling efforts is a BAD practice. Unfortunately, passive prospects who stall, stop answering messages, reschedule…and then reschedule again, are the output of prematurely “sending something” after what appeared to be good conversations.
Why Do Advisors Send Premature Proposals?
Here’s what happens…
We get a “live” prospect in a conversation, and after some initial rapport building and fact finding, the conversation goes like this…
Advisor: “What you need then is xyz… and here’s how we can help you with that.”
Prospect: “Okay, sounds good. We want to think about it. Would you send us a proposal to review?”
Advisor: “Yes! I’ll pull the information together and send it tomorrow. Then reach out next week to see if you have any questions. How does that sound?”
Prospect: “Sounds good.”
After final comments and confirmation of when the proposal will be sent, the conversation is over.
The advisor is happy because they think they have a new client coming aboard soon. After all, they said they WANTED the proposal, so they must be serious, right?
The prospect just gave you an assignment with NO commitment to anything. They have not agreed upon engagement or action on their end.
How much time will you now invest in putting together numbers, information, and following up with a passive audience?
Whether it’s thirty minutes or many hours, it’s too much at this point. What a waste of time if we aren’t in alignment with the prospect’s decision-making process and they aren’t making small commitments to decisions or actions along the way.
Pesky Premature Proposals
58% of salespeople “pitch” too soon, according to research.
You don’t “pitch” you say? Well, a proposal that isn’t presented at the right time, is nothing more than a “pitch” – or throwing information at someone who may not have really wanted it. Or worse yet, wasn’t ready for it. But it was an easy way to get out of the conversation without hurting your feelings…or looking stupid.
Think about it…most people have never “bought” professional services before. It’s something most people only do once or twice in their lifetime, if that. They don’t know that you don’t “kick the tires” or keep “collecting lots of options.”
They need us to help point them at what is most important.
In the example above, the problem with agreeing to send a proposal is there was no agreement or action on the prospect’s end. The prospect is now the “judge and jury” when they get the proposal without any interaction with the advisor. She could take your proposal and:
- Compare it to what she is currently doing (whether working with another advisor or DIYing it) and decide there is nothing compelling in it to even talk with you again. Thus, no responses to your dozens of “check in” emails and calls.
- Share the proposal with other advisors.
- Become confused as she isn’t sure what was proposed is right for her, or because there were too many details to sort through. Which leads to our biggest competition: the prospective client doing “nothing.”
- Decide to talk with you again if you catch her at the right time. And that’s the action we really want.
That’s only a 25% chance of the next step you want, isn’t it? Not strong odds. We need to increase our probability of a better response and leverage the time and effort it takes to create a personal proposal.
Properly Prepped Prospects
Personal proposals created at the right time and sent to engaged prospects increase our probability of an opportunity moving forward to a conversion.
In a recent situation someone shared with me, the prospect asked the advisor to “send them the details” and they’d talk about it and let him know.
He hadn’t verbalized any positive comments about what they discussed about the service and fees. And his spouse wasn’t part of the conversation.
Instead of agreeing to creating and sending a proposal to an unqualified prospect at this time, the advisor said:
“Marcus, I understand you want a proposal to share with your wife. And because we haven’t yet identified the exact ways we can help you yet, I suggest we hold off on that until our next conversation with Sherry. (pause)
We don’t want to waste your time with information that won’t help you yet. Instead let’s figure out what you need to share with Sherry, so she agrees to the three us meeting.”
Do you think he ran away and said, “Well then I don’t want to work with you?”
He was intrigued and they were able to discuss how Sherry wasn’t a detail person anyway, she would agree to a meeting if Marcus said she should.
He even mentioned that the advisor’s approach was different than the other potential advisors he was talking with.
Success for this step! The key was not promising to send something and leave the interaction without shared actions committed to.
In this case, the prospect didn’t know what he should do next, so he reverted to what he thought he should ask for: a proposal! Yet what will move this along is including the spouse in the conversation as the next step!
Increase Your Probability of Presenting Proposals at The Right Time
Here are tips to ensure you present your proposals at the right time.
- Say “not yet” if you are asked for a premature proposal. Though we need to align our sales process with the prospect’s buying process and requests, we can say “not yet” and …
- Qualify the prospect and the opportunity first. If you don’t know willingness to fees and paying for a service, their decision process, and desired outcomes, you don’t have a qualified prospect and your efforts have a lower probability of converting.
- Only agree to create proposals for prospects who agree to the next step with you. Ask for commitment to the next meeting to review the proposal. If they won’t agree to a next time to talk, they are not engaged and are just fishing for information they can use for their own purposes.
And there you have it. Specific actions you can take to increase the probability of using your time wisely and moving your opportunity along. I leave you with a final tongue twister:
Proposals presented with purpose promote positive promises.
Like this topic? Check out these related resources.
Danger, Danger! The Pitfalls of Premature Proposals
Ditch the Pitch to Stop Prospects from Running
Uncover Compelling Prospect Motivators to Get the Yes