Sales POP - Purveyors of Propserity
Why Your Proposal Win Rate is 18% Lower Than It Should Be
Blog / For Sales Pros / Jul 22, 2014 / Posted by Adam Metz / 6099

Why Your Proposal Win Rate is 18% Lower Than It Should Be

And What You Can Do About It In The Next 5 Minutes

Editor’s Note: We are pleased today, as we announce an ongoing commitment to bringing worktools into our platform, to publish the first of many articles by our new integration partner, PandaDoc.  Our Apps Marketplace continues to grow, and we are happy to share the insights of PandaDoc’s VP of Business Development, Adam Metz. Adam shares our philosophy of helping businesses succeed, and thus perfectly illustrates the kind of value our partners bring to the Pipeliner CRM platform.


Writing proposals is probably the most annoying part of selling, because it takes typically about 2-3 hours per proposal, and most companies have a proposal win rate of about 32%. That number could be as high as 51%, but to get your proposal win rates to “best-in-class” status, you have to be willing to do a few things that your competitors aren’t willing to do.

The good news: you can learn three of those things in about 15 minutes, and begin implementing them shortly.

1. Document Analytics

Out of all three tips, this one is the biggest surprise. Do you remember the first time you saw an email that had a Read Receipt on it? You were probably a bit surprised to see that you received the Read Receipt, as soon as the recipient had opened your message.

Today, there’s something called Document Analytics – It’s Read Receipt on steroids, for any sales proposal. It will tell you:

  • Who looked at it
  • How long they looked at it for
  • Which pages they looked at AND
  • Who never read it

Products like PandaDoc offer this for free, so you can quickly use this with any document you’d like to send to a prospective client.

2. The “Win-Result” Sheet

If you’ve ever read the classic Strategic Selling (probably the best B2B sales book ever written), you’ll know that the real reason people buy things are because of win-results. According to the Miller-Heiman primer, a “result is the influence the product or service you’re selling can have on the [customer’s] business process.” The win is “the personal gain that satisfies the [buyer’s] perceived self interest.”

Unless you interview each one of your buyers about what their win-results are, explicitly, you risk writing proposals that just won’t close. Sometimes, you simply can’t access a buyer (perhaps the main Economic Decision-Maker). In those cases, try to get a variety of opinions on what the win-result will look like for that buyer – ask nearly everyone you can. Even though your main contact in the sale – your “coach” – may have an authoritative opinion on this one, they may not be 100% correct. Don’t risk your proposal based on one person’s opinion.

3. The “Magic Window”

It’s funny – I learned a technique in a consulting proposal book, Alan Weiss’ Million Dollar Consulting Proposals. While this technique was not written for product-or-service based sales, it actually works rather well at surfacing hidden decision-makers.

It’s rather simple. Before delivering any proposal, you say something like, “Mr Prospect, our proposals have a 48 (or 72-hour) shelf-life. We don’t want to rush you or your team, so we can deliver it whenever you like. Would next Wednesday, next Friday or the follow Monday perhaps be a good day for you?”

What this frequently does is cause the customer – who was not ever being dishonest with you – to say something like, “Well, the next 2 weeks won’t work, because Adrianne is out of the office.”

At that moment, you realize that Adrianne is an important decision-maker that you haven’t spoken to. So, as the sales professional, you have the power to “pause” (not stop) the proposal process to rope in any decision-makers that you may have accidentally omitted.

You’ll be surprised how many prospective customers will grant you a meeting with a “skipped” decision-maker. At that point in the sale, they too have put a lot of their own time into it, and don’t want to see the project fall apart.

Speaking of winning proposals … have you tried PandaDoc’s proposal analytics yet? Why not get 3 free documents to start with (you can even get 3 more with a tweet). No credit card is required, and you’ll be up and running in minutes. PipelinerCRM is coming soon to PandaDoc!

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About Author

Adam Metz,author of Amazon #1 internet-marketing best-seller The Social Customer, VP of Business Development at PandaDoc. A veteran sales executive, carried a million-plus sales quota for a Fortune 500 company , run a sales channel for a Google Apps eco-system startup, UberConference.

Author's Publications on Amazon

Adam Metz is the Principal at Metz Consulting, a social customer management-consulting firm that teaches brands how to acquire, manage, monetize and retain customers from the social web. He is currently at work on a second book, The Social Customer, for McGraw Hill Professional, due…
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"The social customer is your NEW customer. And if you don’t recognize it, they will be someone else’s new customer. Adam Metz presents a clear, concise game plan for attracting them, connecting with them, and keeping them. Don’t just buy this book: invest in the…
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