Why I don’t send offers to my prospects

A few weeks ago, a prospect asked me to send him an offer. Pretty reasonable ask I hear you say. I’ve been sending hundreds of offers during my sales careers, but I barely closed 30% of them.

There are many possible reasons for that, but here are a few that I have identified:

  • Prospects ask for offers to get rid of pushy salespeople – many salespeople believe that sending an offer will get them closer to closing a deal.
  • Offers are used as education documents – an offer should be a validation document. You build with your prospect. If they’re not the ones building it, they may not understand it fully.
  • Offers are great ways for prospects to pitch internally – prospects love to see a ton of details so they can pitch features and benefits to their bosses. Except their bosses don’t care about that.

As a result, I have decided to systematically refuse to send offers to my prospects.

Here’s what I do instead:

1. Push back

When prospects ask for an offer, they either try to get rid of us or to take control of our deals. As we, salespeople, tend to be fairly optimistic, we often interpret this ask as a positive indication about the health of our deals.

Instead of accepting right away, here’s what you can say:

“I would love to send an offer, but it feels like it’s a bit too early to do so.”

2. Suggest your next steps

Now that you have their attention, come up with your plan. If you want to be proactive, you can ask for an introduction to their colleagues.

Here’s an example of a sentence I like to use to do just that:

“What would really help would be for me to speak with one or two reps in your team to understand how they are currently prospecting, and what kind of challenges they are faced with. I’ll then be able to come back with a detailed plan on how I think I could help. Would it be a bad idea?”

3. Give them some homework assignment

If your deal is healthy, you shouldn’t face much pushback. Prospects that are engaged in a deal will work towards closing it. If the deal isn’t qualified, you may face some pushback, which is a great indication to cut the call short or call their bluff.

The single best way to test if a deal is qualified is to involve prospects in your process, and give them some homework assignment.

Here’s how I do it:

“OK, then I need you to intro me to these two reps and set a follow-up session so I can share my findings.

What do you think?”

When you finish your calls with this simple push back, a few things happen:

  • You test your relationship and the involvement of your prospects with the deal
  • You stand out from all the other “Yes Man” salespeople who send tons of offers but never close any
  • You set clear next steps and talk to more people in the sales organization

I tested this tactic on my last few deals and I have had tons of introductions and deals picking up energy.

So remember, when prospects ask for an offer:

  • push back
  • suggest your next steps
  • give them some homework assignment

You’ll understand if your deals is legit, you’ll get prospects working with you, and you’ll close deals faster.

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