We met when you presented to our group in Chicago a couple of weeks ago. I just wanted to let you know how valuable your insights were to me (the former "pre-proposer"!). In fact, I bought and have already read several of the books that you recommended. As a result, I have returned to my consultative roots and am confident that I am on the right track to increasing my effectiveness as a salesperson.
For example, I recently set up a meeting with a prospect who wanted me to come into the first meeting with the proposal in hand. A month ago, I would have done just that and would have had about zero chance of closing the business. He wanted to gather a bunch of proposals and summarize them for the owners. This time, I gently pushed back. Here's what I wrote, "Since I am a consultant first and foremost, the first meeting is usually a fact finding meeting where we can really discuss your goals, needs, etc.
"The second meeting is when I would bring a proposal/solution to the table. Would you prefer our meeting on the 20th to be the fact finding meeting or would you like to have a phone conversation before our meeting so I can bring a proposal along? I'll do whatever is convenient for you--the important thing, to me, is to make sure that I understand what you need and want as an organization so that our solution caters to your needs and wants."
His response to these few words was amazing. This man, who was in a complete hurry to get the proposals and be done with it, completely changed his tune in the matter of a few hours. He replied to me, "The 20th at 11 a.m. is fine for fact finding. We'll take this a step at a time. I want to make sure we all understand everything before we take the plunge."
Who knows if I will be able to help him, and, ultimately, make a sale? The one thing that I do know is that I have raised the bar for my competitors. Those who are planning to follow his original suggestion of walking into a meeting with a proposal without a consultation might find a prospect who is wondering why they didn't take the time and make the effort to find out what he needed before bringing solutions to the table!
Thanks so much for your insight and for your support. I really appreciated your methods and message.