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PROSALESGUY - Tired Of Clients Shopping Your Proposal?

    • 174 posts
    July 30, 2018 1:39 PM PDT


    We’ve all been there before.  We invest time, energy and expertise into preparing our proposal or quote and then get the sinking feeling that our buyer is shopping it with the competition for a better price.  This is often a topic of discussion with our sales training clients.  How do we prevent that from happening?

    As Professional Salespeople, we strive to give our clients the best in everything we do.  It’s part of the commitment we make in getting and keeping their business.  This often requires specialized work requiring time, creativity and expertise in devising the best solution to meet the buyer’s needs and solve their problems.  It can be unnerving if not downright upsetting to think that a competitor could just copy our hard work, undercut our price and win the sale.

    Many Salespeople feel that there’s not much you can do to stop this and resign themselves to accept that it’s part of the job.  Over the years I’ve learned that there are safeguards that can be taken to ensure most of the “shopping around” can be prevented.


    Use The Copyright © Symbol

    We’ve all noticed this symbol before.  Major companies use it when protecting the originality of their product, content and work.  However, it costs nothing for anyone to use this simple technique.

    © (Year) (Your name)

    By placing this on each page of your proposal or quote, you are sending a strong message – I own the creation of it and I’m sharing it only with you.  You don’t have the right to distribute it to someone else without my consent.   You don’t have to apply for copyright and by simply posting this, buyers are being professionally educated about your feelings toward your work.  You could even go so far as writing this at the bottom of your proposal.

    @ 2018 PROSALESGUY TRAINING – The content of this proposal is the property of the owner and cannot be shared with any person or company other than the recipient.

    Is this arrogant or self-absorbed?  Arrogant – not all at all.  Self-absorbed – most definitely.  You are trying to protect the originality of your work.

    Be assured that your buyer will notice this and think twice about shopping it with a competitor.  If they wish to have a conversation on why you’ve used a copyright, smile and then take the opportunity to tell them that you’re protecting your expertise.  No reasonable client will have an issue with that.


    Have A Conversation With The Buyer About Shopping Your Proposal

    All consultative Salespeople know how important asking questions is in needs analysis investigation.  One of the best questions is to ask is if the buyer might be entertaining more than one proposal or quote.  If they respond with yes then make them aware of your feelings.  You might explain as follows:

    “I totally understand.  I want to make sure that we’re on the same page.  I plan to invest whatever amount of time, research and expertise is required in preparing my proposal/quote for you.  I’d like to think that it will stay between you and me allowing other suppliers to use their own resources to prepare theirs.  Does that sound fair to you?”

    Here’s my point.  The time to talk about this is before anything happens.  Avoiding the subject from the start to deal with it later will have everyone’s emotions involved.  Great Salespeople have direct, meaningful conversations to prevent situations from occurring.


    Take Precautions In Your Proposal/Quote

    Many of our clients have learned that giving away specific product information in their proposal invites curious buyers to do an online search to source out product when applicable.  While you’ve done considerable work in creating the solution for your buyer, there’s little to no expertise involved in sourcing out product online.  Don’t set yourself up for trouble by offering product identification numbers or other revealing information.

    The product you offer your customer is made up of many components:

    • Your ability to do a proper needs analysis with the buyer to determine their specific needs
    • You and your company’s access to research information to create the best solution
    • Your expertise coupled with the knowledge and experience of industry experts in your company
    • Your hard work and effort in preparing a proposal/quote that will be best received by the buyer

    By not personally taking these things for granted, you are better able to ensure that your client doesn’t do the same.  In my experience, I’ve never had a reasonable client have any issue with this approach.  If he or she does, you must ask yourself if you’re working with a buyer that meets your ideal customer profile.


    Let’s Be Fair

    All of this is based on the assumption that you’re providing value to your buyer with your time and expertise in finding the best solution to a current challenge they are experiencing.  If you’re doing little more than sourcing out a product and reselling it, then price will be the determining factor in the purchasing decision.  You should be prepared to be shopped by a buyer.  Out of line pricing can lose the sale and the customer for life.


    What do you think?  Please let us know in the comments area below.  We respond to everyone who takes the time to share their thoughts.



    Dave Warawa – PROSALESGUY

    Author of Shut Up!  Stop Talking and Start Making Money - available in paperback and Kindle on and

    This post was edited by Dave Warawa at July 30, 2018 1:51 PM PDT
    • 78 posts
    August 3, 2018 10:32 AM PDT

    I know the feeling of having your proposal and hard work given to the competitor. I had that happen. At least the account executive there phoned me to say he was handed my proposal by the client and told to go out and make it happen. I gave him my blessing. He was in a tough spot. I knew he salesman. The client set a sales record that day. My work made a positive case for radio even if it was my competitor that got to do it.

    I went to my boss and he kindly allowed me to take my account's competitor which he traded for the account that did me dirty. For me the client breached our trust. He was no longer worthy of me. I took what I brought to the table to his competitor. 

    The client that pulled this got the expertise of my boss. He continued to advertise. The client I was now handling advertised as well. What I got was a client I could feel good about working with, so you might say we all won.

    I have heard of a station asking a client to agree to 'confidentiality' by signing a statement. The statement protects the client with any information they share as well. The station claimed that helped to make them appear more professional and have greater value.

    • 174 posts
    August 3, 2018 11:05 AM PDT

    Thanks for the response, Bill.  Sorry to hear that you were shopped.  Consider that it tends to happen more to Salespeople who are creative and come up with great ideas.  Perhaps that's some form of consolation.  No one would blame you for trading accounts.  Once trust is lost, so goes the relationship.  Perhaps consider using some of the suggestions made in the post.  I agree with your last statement in reference to confidentiality agreements, specifically when partnering with a client on a major promotion that involves the marketing or ratings of the radio station.  I've used several times and it always has it's desired impact. Keep coming up with great ideas, Bill!

    • 78 posts
    August 3, 2018 12:16 PM PDT

    Thank you Dave. Getting shopped happens. I suppose it bothers us because we care and believe in what we offer. If it was just a sale, we'd brush it off but because we sell based on trust and relationships built, it bothers us because it's not just the sale. I've only had it happen 4 times I'm aware of in almost 30 years, so I think it is something that is rare. You just move on to someone that sees the value of what you bring to the table. In fact, it never changed my willingness to help a client with all I could do. I figured most folks are honorable and sometimes you run across someone who isn't.

    Your suggestion is excellent. I see it as distinguishing yourself among competitors. It gives the perception of greater value in what you offer coupled with a higher level of professionalism. 

    • 174 posts
    August 3, 2018 2:19 PM PDT

    Thanks Bill.  I'm glad you found the suggestions useful.