A sales training agency who helped companies get from product selling to solution selling, said that in a sales conversation, there has to be a certain ‘spark’ in order for a customer to request a proposal. Wat gaf de sprankeling, dat de klant besloot jou om een offerte te vragen? It is necessary to bring that spark in your proposal to help seal the deal, preferably in the opening sentence. This seems like a simple recommendation, but it rarely happens. Do you recognize the following opening sentences?
What’s wrong with these opening sentences? Firstly, they are cliché. The customer has read them a hundred times. And it is very likely that your competitors’ proposals begin in a similar way. It is unconvincing and doesn’t resonate with the client. In other words; it does not lit that spark you need.
You may want to express your gratitude politely In that case, start with something like: ‘Thank you for the information you provided this week. With these new insights, we formulated a proposal to increase your efficiency.’.
This will cultivate curiosity while directly addressing the customer’s needs.
You can also build on the effort you have already made, using reciprocity. Reciprocity is a powerful principle of persuasion. For example:
Last week, we assessed your production process. At that time, we have made some immediate recommendations. In this proposal, we elaborate on the analysis and further approach..
And if the conversation has been pleasant and informal, you can use that as well. For example:
Congratulations on Ajax’s victory in the Champions League. You must have enjoyed it. To keep the good vibes going you’ll find in this proposal how our approach increases your efficiency.
Only do this if there’s a personal connection. If not, keep it professional. Ultimately, the customer must justify their choice professionally. But if possible, use it for the likeability. Likeability is one of the persuasion principles mentioned by Cialdini. People are more inclined to say yes to someone they like and can identify with. The well-known likability factor.
A captivating example
We have an example from our practice that could be a little risky, but isn’t because the salesperson was genuinely nice and sincere.
In this example, it’s about a kitchen salesperson. In the letter, he connected with the customer by using their new home:
Congratulations on your new home; it’s truly a beautiful family house. Together, we’ve selected a suitable kitchen that will be the centrepiece of your family.
The tricky part was the way he ended his letter:
Even if you don’t choose our kitchen, I wish you much happiness in your new home.
On the edge, because it might come across as insincere. But in this case, it wasn’t. He gained sympathy and sold many kitchens this way.
Use your last persuasive opportunity
In the conclusion, seize your last chance to persuade the customer. Use your confidence: you are sending a proposal that adds value to the customer. Use initiative and ask your customer for action, like setting a date to contact them to discuss the proposal or point out the option to approve your proposal (digitally). You can round it up with the value you offer. For example: ‘You want to benefit from 20% more productivity fast, right?’ Or you can frame it in scarcity: ‘We only have 2 of the selected excavators in stock.’ In any case, seize your last persuasive opportunity.