All sales stages count when selling service contracts — but sleepwalk the proposal — and everything vanishes at the end, as if you were never there.
Selling service contracts can often take months, even years to access customers, to understand and possibly influence them. But the process always ends with a proposal.
Large customers with large dollar contracts need RFPs’ auditable trails for compliance. Customers with smaller dollar contracts want CYA insurance if the company asks how the money was spent.
No Leapfrogging in the Sales Journey
Service marketing and sales stages need to be completed in order. One can’t take a journey of a thousand miles by jumping over the steps to build awareness, interest, and desire. All that is a given.
But it’s the customer’s penultimate* action on that journey that matters the most — when customers choose which supplier to sign (* the final action is a negotiated contract).
At that moment of truth, if your proposal fails to persuade customers then all your time and money spent on marketing and sales was wasted.
And losing sellers will have to wait until the next contract rolls around. Because customers are not likely to revisit that decision once it’s made.
Customers Don’t Make (Admit) Mistakes
The reality with large dollar contracts is that customers rarely if ever admit they made a mistake and chose the wrong supplier. There’s too much visibility on them within their firm.
The same is true for small dollar contracts but on a more individual, self-protective level, “Hope my boss doesn’t find out I just bought a handful of beans.”
So, customers will force square pegs into round holes rather than try again to make a better buy.
Sales Proposals are 1st Among Equals
Sales proposals are not an equal step in marketing and sales. They are a sequentially bigger, more important step.
This means sellers must get everything right from the beginning. All that marketing and sales work must be done right to get onto customers’ bid lists.
And then sales and marketing teams must get their proposals even more right.
Like mountaineers, sellers must invest resources and effort for proposals to succeed in that final step. If not, the mountain is not summited, and sellers don’t win contracts.