Back in January, I realized I was wrong about proposals. I don’t do them anymore. I admonish clients and colleagues when they talk about writing one. A Recommendation Summary, while extremely similar, is profoundly different. And it’s much more than semantics. As an outsider, I humbly submit my proposal for possible consideration by the all-powerful decision maker to whom I must defer. As an insider, I offload the tough task of preparing a set of recommendations to address a pressing issue from the harried, overworked customer executive and am appreciated as a high-value team member.
As strongly as I feel about punting proposals, that’s nothing compared to the disdain I feel for quotes and bids. A price quote has a rightful place in one situation and one situation only. It makes sense only when selling an undifferentiated commodity for a company that provides only the absolute minimum in service and laughs at the idea of post sale support.
Show me the rep who feels his or her products and services are commodity items, and I’ll show you someone who needs to pursue a different career path. Sorry to be blunt, but if you’re submitting quotes – ever – you deserve to have your sales rep membership card summarily revoked.
Then there’s the bid. At least a quote is easy to prepare. With a bid, I need to chase influencers all around the building begging for bits and pieces of information. My only condolence is that I can watch all my competitor reps sadly scooting about too. Then we scurry on back to the office to make sure all the RFP forms are properly completed. Doesn’t feel professional. Feels a bit like being an indentured servant.
Look, I’m pragmatic enough to know that quotes and bids are extremely solid fixtures in the decision processes of many, actually most, customers. We won’t sweep ‘em into history’s dustbin any time soon.
But sweep we must!!!