How to Avoid Making Your Sales Proposal Another ‘Price for the File’

When a prospect requests a proposal on a custom product or service, DO NOT agree to do it … at least not yet.

Otherwise, you'll become another price for their file, with little chance to win the business.

Instead, BEFORE agreeing to put together the proposal, uncover the customer's backstory first.

Think of it like this...

The Customer’s Journey

In every epic story, the hero has a backstory that explains WHY they have set out on their journey.

In your case, the prospect is the hero of their story. And your job is to uncover their backstory—to gain insight into WHY they've embarked on this mission to make a new purchase.

How do you do this?

You'd say something along these lines:

"I'll be happy to put together a competitive proposal on..." a new truck, website, consulting project, equipment maintenance (or whatever it is you sell).

“Before I get started, I have a few questions for clarification to help me make sure we put together something that best fits what you're looking for."

Then you would ask questions like:

"What has you looking for a new truck today? What jobs do you need this truck to be able to perform for your business?"

Or, "What are you looking to achieve with a new website" or "preventive maintenance agreement" or "this new piece of equipment"?

The Point is This...

When you uncover the WHY—the backstory behind their request—you gain greater insight into WHAT the customer really needs and HOW to help them achieve their goals.  

Now you've established trust with that customer and can collaborate with them to structure a deal that benefits both parties.

The Bottom Line

When you invest the time upfront to learn about the customer's backstory, you're no longer a price for the file.

You're a potential partner in their success.

Sean M. Lyden is CEO of Lyden Communications LLC, an Orlando, Fla.-based consulting firm that helps companies use storytelling to unlock sales growth.