How To Close A Deal In 4 Steps
When it comes to responding to a request for proposal, (or RFP), employing an effective strategy is essential to winning the bid. While this may seem obvious, choosing the most effective game plan proves to be much more elusive. Simply being the lowest bidder with the hottest logo won’t cut it when customers are making key long-term business decisions.
Veteran strategic advisors and co-founders of Chicago-based Avondale Strategic Partners, Karl Stark and Bill Stewart have outlined a logical process for approaching customers that could mean the difference between closing and merely courting that crucial deal.
Establish Your Credibility
When presented with the opportunity to form a lucrative partnership, there is a tendency to dive right in and begin addressing the customer’s needs. Though your heart may be in the right place, smart money says that you must walk before you can run. The initial exchange is the most important time to highlight your company’s strengths and demonstrate its credibility in the marketplace.
That said, you must avoid going too far with your pitch. The idea is to show that your company offers genuine value and deserves to be in the discussion. Lay it on too thick, and you may come off like a desperate used-car salesman. Proving that you’re the right choice is far more effective than leading your customer to think you are. In other words: Show me, don’t tell me.
Stepping back to listen to the needs of a prospective customer will be of great help when considering how best to feature your company. While your instinct may be to highlight the points that distinguish your business from others, it is much more valuable to discover the customer’s vision of the deal first to maximize your efforts.
The best way to plot your ultimate strategy is to break down the information you receive to create a hierarchy of importance. For example, knowing which points the customer perceives to be the most and least important will allow you to tailor your upcoming pitch to make your company as attractive as possible. In other words, a one-size-fits-all approach to your pitch is likely to fall short when detail and specificity is what’s desired.
Take A Shot
Now that you’ve properly introduced your brand and gained a thorough understanding of the prospect’s needs and desires, you’re ready to offer suggestions about how to proceed. Since the negotiation phase has yet to begin, you should present your ideas as possibilities and leave ample wiggle room. Presenting multiple recommendations is also wise, as it gives the customer more options to consider and increases the probability of offering a fitting solution. Above all, make sure that each suggestion you offer is air-tight and addresses the customer’s needs as accurately as possible.
React and Adapt
Now that you have established your credibility, accurately assessed the prospect’s needs and posed your recommendations, you’re well prepared to enter a dialogue about how to proceed. Because you’ve focused intently on the customer from the start and crafted your company’s response accordingly, you’ve put the ball in their court and given them the tools to craft their ideal version of a potential deal.
At this stage, your versatility will make all the difference. Pricing, logistics and other specific requests are on the table, and your willingness to adapt and even pivot your business will determine whether or not you’re destined to close the deal.