We Came in NOTHING Again!

binary-89498_640“Unfortunately, we come in nothing more often than anything else.” 

This is a direct quote from one of our clients during a win/loss analysis of their pipeline. At first, I laughed at uniqueness of the phrase. Naturally, I asked for clarification. He said, “We meet with the customer, they like what we have to say, ask us for a proposal and we never hear back from them. We think we didn’t win but we don’t know if we came in second or came in nothing—meaning they just didn’t make a decision at all.”

I was fascinated with the phrase “come in nothing” and quickly realized how many times sales people generate proposals with hope as their primary strategy.

Yes, there are times when priorities shift and initiatives get delayed. We get it. But our experience tells us that 9 times out of 10, the sales person did a poor job qualifying the customer. Ask yourself, how many times have you “came in nothing?”

Not to worry, here are five things the sales person needs to have a clear understanding of BEFORE generating a proposal.

PREMIUM CONTENT: RFPs: Response rates, hours to complete, & percent successful

If the sales person secures the following information, it is likely their proposal will not end up in limbo.

  1. Do we understand the customer’s challenge and area of opportunity?
  2. Do we understand the critical success factors & objectives by:
    1. Key Decision Maker (“KDM”)?
    2. Key Decision Influencer (“KDI”)?
  3. Driving force/reason to move forward?
  4. Do we understand their decision criteria?
  5. Do we understand the decision process and project hierarchy?

Let’s break them down a little further:

Do we understand the customer’s challenge and area of opportunity?

Litmus test: Did we find the pain? Do we have a clear understanding of their desired state versus actual state and the associated gap? Can we close the gap with our product/services/solution?

Do we understand the critical success factors & objectives by respective KDM and KDI?

Litmus test: Have we identified the KDM and KDIs? Do we understand their pain? Have we met with them? Do we understand the political landscape?

Is there a driving force/ urgent reason to move forward?

Litmus test: Why does the customer have to act? What are the consequences if they do nothing? How will that negatively impact their business?

Do we understand their decision criteria?

Litmus test: How is it weighted and why? Who formulated it?

Do we understand the decision process and project hierarchy?

Litmus test: How does this project stack rank v. other projects that are in motion? How will the final decision be made? Committee? Consensus? Vote? Who will be involved in the decision? Do we have access to them?

Unfortunately, “coming in nothing” costs sales organizations significant dollars. It creates unrealistic forecasts, a lack of discipline and “hope” becomes your defining strategy. Generating an unqualified or partially qualified proposal takes away critical time from cultivating the right relationships and high success rates. It is not what you know that hurts you in the sales process, it’s what you don’t know.

MORE: Retaining top sales reps


Mike Jacoutot

Mike Jacoutot
Mike Jacoutot is founder and managing partner of Butler Street, a process-driven, performance improvement firm focused on client and talent development. He is a former staffing company CEO. He can be reached at mikejacoutot (at) butlerstreetllc (dot) com.

Mike Jacoutot

Share This Post


Related Articles

2 Responses to “We Came in NOTHING Again!”

  1. Akraya says:

    Yes! You hit the nail on the head!
    This is an excellent article that can help direct a “Go/ No Go” RFP discussion. 
    In your opinion, is there strategy in responding to an RFP for the brand awareness, even if you know you have no chance of winning?

    • mikejacoutot says:

      Akraya Unfortunately, responding to RFPs is a very expensive way to build brand awareness with little to no return on that investment.  Here is a link to our article Why Responding to RFPs is Hurting Your Sales Organization http://www.butlerstreetllc.com/#!Why-Responding-to-RFPs-Hurts-Your-Sales-Organization/c21xo/55f55b410cf2db6dcfb45c76

Powered by staffingindustry.com ·