Does the following story sound all too familiar?

You spend countless hours in research, pre-call planning and strategy sessions getting ready to call on a new, high potential prospect otherwise known as the “big one.” You know that this sale could make your month, your quarter, or even your year.  As you prepare for your first face-to-face meeting you leave nothing to chance so you invite an army of internal resources to join you. The initial meeting with their senior team actually goes pretty well.

Your sales presentation is stellar and the meeting concludes with the prospect very impressed. You promise to meet their request for a proposal by the end of the week. Your entire team drops all other projects and universally blasts the “All hands on deck!” alarm in order to meet the rigorous demands of that requested proposal.

You proudly deliver the proposal into the welcoming hands of the new prospect who greats it with “applaud and praise” you for a job well done. He promises of a “cursory signature” ceremony that will assuredly take place at the board meeting next week.

The next week comes and goes but you don’t hear from your prospect. After ten days you make the “Hi, how’s it going?” courtesy call. “Just wanted to check in and see how that cursory signature ceremony went at the board meeting a couple of weeks ago.” But you don’t hear “Why, Yes! I’m so glad you called. Everything is agreed to and signed and we’d like you to get started right away.”

And so it goes. All that time, effort, working weekends, money spent, meetings – lost in the “black hole.” Never to return.   Why did the prospects’ enthusiasm, responsiveness, sense of urgency and desire to move ahead – go poof? Replaced with, we need to: reorganize, resize, rethink, redo, re-plan, re-budget, redirect or revisit!

How did things go from so “right” to so “wrong” so quickly! Was it something you said? Something you didn’t say? Something you did or didn’t do? To make sure this doesn’t happen again I’ve created a Ready to Sign Checklist to ensure that you don’t ask for the order prematurely.  Don’t ask for the order (or issue your proposal) until you can say “yes” to the following 10 bullets:

1. I know all the Decision Makers and/or Influencers
2. I understand the business issues and needs of my prospect
3. I have successfully proven my solution
4. I have woven a web of influence
5. I have spoken with the Decision Makers
6. The prospect has reviewed a generic version of my contract/proposal
7. Any potential technology issues have been resolved
8. I know who my competitors are/What they are offering/charging
9. I have differentiated myself, my company and my solution from my competition
10. I have cost-justified my solution

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