Sunday, November 30, 2008

So do salespeople make good bid writers

This is a follow up to my last post here and some thoughts on whether salespeople don't like writing proposals and why.

I think that this comes down partly to personality types and skillsets. Many salespeople are great at face-to-face relationship selling. They are great at following their structured SPIN or Solution Selling process and getting the client to where they want them to be.

Then the client asks for a proposal. Not unreasonable as they have to sell the solution to their bosses and the holders of the purse strings. That's when some salespeople say "great" and mean it - they know they can write a killer proposal. Other salespeople say something else, because they know they struggle to convey their sales message in the written word.

This may be a hangup from school - that although they are a "people person" they weren't strong academically and can't spell well (yes it happens); it may be the way that some salespeople have climbed up the greasy pole that is a career in sales - they've always been in front of people, thinking on their feet, sensational at overcoming objections but seriously uncomfortable when the close results in being required to be back in the office writing words that aren't part of a dialogue.

So are different skills required to be a salesperson and/or a bid writer. Yes, undoubtedly. But that doesn't mean that some people can't be great at both, but great salespeople want to be with the clients.

In smaller organisations everyone on the management team can be responsible for sales - they simply have to get on the phone, meet clients, write the proposals etc to stay in business...and at some level this is true in every organisation. But as the organisation gets larger a salesperson is hired to do the leg-work of finding leads, prospects and clients - and fulfilling the entire sales cycle. 

It's only later that as the organisation grows that thoughts start leaning towards having a designated bid writer. Yet the Capability Maturity Model for Business Development shows us that the better processes and structure that we have, the better our proposals and results will be.

But as more and more clients require written proposals, shouldn't we think about ensuring that our salespeople have this structure and support early on? OK I'm not saying that for an organisation with 6 people 3 of them should be a bid team, but there's no reason why a structured approach to sales and proposal development can't be in place.

In fact, as most small companies need those sales and a structured process would help get more work isn't it important that they do? That would help the salesperson spend their time doing what they need to do - be seeing clients. It would help them get proposals prepared quicker. And those proposals would be better proposals and win more work.

Sounds too good to be true? No. That's what Learn to Write Proposals is about.