It Really Isn’t About You

You submitted your RFP Proposal and they’ve called for a demonstration. So you pull out all the stops. You are prepared to tell them all about your firm how you’ve been in business forever, how you represent X% of the industry and all the awards you’ve achieved. If you do this you’ve lost the deal.

Remember the selection process is not about you. It is about the buyer. 

What are the issues they are trying to solve?  
What impact are those issues having on the organization?
What other solutions have they considered?
Why are they trying to solve this now?  
What risks are they worried about?

If you don’t know the answers to these questions by the time you are deciding on next steps with the buyer, you have had some good practice.  

This is not to say that you do not have a story to tell that they want to hear. Rather it is a reminder to focus on what will help you win the sale. When I have been given an invitation to the dance I like to do a few things to set my team up for success.

1.    I re-read their RFP document looking for the things they seem to be concerned about.
        Then I review my notes have they given me information in the past that will help me
        understand their challenges, concerns and goals?
2.    I then outline my Presentation and work to build the presentation around what they have
        expressed interest in or what I can reasonably expect to be their concerns.
        (It is probably not a review of our mission statement; particularly if it was in the proposal).
3.    I then time each element of the presentation. I don’t want t run out of time.
4.    Then bring the team together show them where you are at and elicit the feedback and
        criticism that will polish the presentation like gems through a tumbler.
5.    The opening slide is perhaps the most important. This is the one where I lay out a
        tentative agenda (The items we plan to cover) and ask them to approve it and add to it.
        This also provides the opportunity to ask a few of the questions above.
        (I want them to re-connect with their issues and the impact as we are walking through our solution).

Does this approach close every sale? Nope. But it does ensure that there is nothing left on the table when the meeting is over. They may still select their brother in law. But they also know that I listened to them and that we focused on them not on us. It’s about them.

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