In my 15 years at this telecom game, my record for winning a deal by using a proposal has been abysmal. As any salesperson knows, a proposal takes time, effort and is generally a pain in the ass. It should just be a formality - a way to get the project in writing for budget approval.
My goal for 2014 is to try to figure out what happens in the proposal process that I am missing. Just looking at the last 4 proposals - two were for really big projects and two were for smaller projects. On two projects I knew that the proposal wasn't going to work. Why? Most gigs like that come without the proposal. There's no question that the client wants to hire me.
One of the proposals that I knew was a waste of time came from a prospect who in fact sought me out and not only didn't hire me, but didn't even respond to the proposal until I called him on it. That one I will chalk up as an outlier.
I am probably not doing enough presumptive closing during the sales process. I am going to have to watch that and perform more of it for 2 reasons: (1) it will free up time that would be spent creating a useless proposal; (2) it will get objections out of the way and clarify the project sooner (which should lead to more closing).
From now on, if I am going to write a proposal, I will remember to ask, “If I've answered all of your questions about the project, can we discuss how to proceed with the project?” or something to that effect to let them know that the proposal is just a formality.