- Selling A Solution to the Customers Requirement
If you emerge from the Requirements Gathering phase with a viable solution then you are into the phase where you present the solution and proposal to the client. Again larger companies will have formal processes at this stage, but formal or informal process the skills required are the same.
Most sales campaigns have two ways of presenting back to the customer the solution to his requirements. A written proposal and a Powerpoint Presentation; 80% of the key content is common to both. The differences are about conventions and I will summarise them later.
What is common to both is the content that should form a compelling set of reasons to do business with you. What are the compelling reasons for doing business with you? Generally there are three tests that a customer applies to a vendor proposal and you should apply them to your proposal before giving it to the customer:-
- Does it do the job?
- Is this a company we want to do business with?
- Are there any reasons why we cannot go forward with this proposal?
“Does it do the job?” is the most difficult to summarise in this book, as there are a world of requirements and a world of solutions, but the answer is three!
If during your requirements gathering you find three real business needs and state in the proposal that you meet those needs, it is usually enough. If your proposal is a cut and paste job from some internal brochure or standard proposal that has 97 benefit statements that is not what I mean. What I mean is that if you can summarise with clarity the top three business outcomes the customer is looking for and that your solution fully meets those needs, you will probably win.
Why? There are two main reasons, first most salespeople do not focus enough on requirements gathering and rely too much on the Request for Proposal containing all the information they need to select the appropriate brochures to enclose with their standard proposal; and secondly there are human beings at the customer side as well. The RFP is usually a document where standard Procurement & Legal terminology sits side by side with the “consensus requirements statement” which as in all organizations includes the main requirements (often well disguised and poorly stated) along with half a dozen or more “nice to have” or “we have to put this one in for to keep Fred happy” requirements.
Remember a camel is a horse designed by a committee.
There is no substitute for doing the needs analysis yourself.