4 Client Behaviors That Mean Your Proposal Needs Work

Mikita Mikado

You’re at the proposal stage and, so far, everything appears to be on track to make the sale. That’s why it can come as a huge shock if the deal doesn't close. It will leave you wondering where things went wrong. Here are a few of the most common indicators that it was your proposal that failed to seal the deal.

What Happened: The buyer ghosted you after receiving the proposal
You’ve delivered the proposal to the buyer and POOF... the buyer disappears into thin air, never to be heard from again. This behavior is especially frustrating because an incommunicado buyer means you have no way to identify what went wrong from their perspective.

When a buyer vaporizes, it could be for any number of reasons.

The buyer may have been unable to get budgetary support.

The buyer could have chosen to go with a competitor or found an alternative solution.

Or maybe the buyer is so bogged down with higher priority initiatives that the project has been tabled indefinitely.

Worst of all, sometimes your proposal never stood a chance to begin with – it may have been simply rounding out the “due diligence” process that some folks are required to go through to “shop” for vendors even when a single vendor has been the shoo-in all along.

Regardless, you can mitigate these risks with the design and presentation of your proposal. For one thing, only create and share a proposal after carefully vetting out the buyer during the sales process. It's not always possible to suss out the tire kickers but putting together a strong qualification process can certainly help.

Another way to gather intel about what happens after you share a proposal document is to leverage document automation analytics which can shed some light on who has viewed the proposal, for how long and when.

What Happened: You're waiting on your buyer's chain of approval
Oops. If you're stuck in the metaphorical waiting room while your prospect is trying to gain approval to sign off on the deal, then it means you've made a serious misstep during the sales process.

If your buyer has to “sell” your proposal up the food chain at their organization, it means you had your sights set on the wrong prospect all along. You’ve spent all of your time selling to someone without the authority to ink the deal.

Sometimes targeting a more junior person can work in your favor if that this person can help champion your deal and shepherd you through the approvals process.

Other times, it means you will have to rely on the junior buyer's ability to sell your product or service to their superiors, which is a huge risk that can ultimately cost you the deal if that prospect isn’t capable of pitching your value correctly. Make sure during the initial stages of your discussion that you have clearly identified the decision maker and that you actively involve that person as early as possible.

What Happened: The buyer is fixated on price
If your buyer wants to negotiate on price after reviewing your proposal, the chances are that you didn't do a great job of communicating the value proposition of your service or product in your proposal. When a buyer can only see the cost of the investment you want them to make they're likely to default to penny-pinching, when instead, they should focus on the return on their investment (ROI).

Help your buyers to see beyond your proposal’s price tag by clearly communicating the value of your offering to their business: increased productivity and efficiencies, greater revenue opportunity, maximized profitability – this is where your prospect needs to focus, not on the dollar amount they’re about to commit. In essence, the buyer should have a thorough understanding of your company's value in direct relation to the investment that they'll make.

What Happened: The buyer has questions... lots of them
The type of questions that your prospects ask after receiving your proposal will tell you a lot about their level of interest.

When a prospect just wants you to regurgitate the CliffsNotes, such as pricing and terms, it’s a bad sign that they simply haven't read your proposal, and they’re not serious about trying to understand what your company can offer them.

On the other hand, if the buyer asks deeper questions that are spurred by the content of your proposal, it’s a good sign that you're about to close the deal.

By paying attention to these behaviors, you’ll gain a better understanding of why the deal is falling apart, and how to address them with your sales proposals.

Mikita Mikado is the co-founder and CEO of PandaDoc, a platform helping sales teams create, deliver, and track intelligent sales content to close deals faster. To learn more about simplifying your sales documents, connect with Mikita and the PandaDoc team on Twitter, and LinkedIn.