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Guide | Sales Stage 4: Validation Template

The validation stage is about building, sizing & presenting pricing proposals. Use this template to set your sales reps up for success.

Table of Contents

Intro: What is the validation stage of the sales cycle?

What is a Stage 4: Business Case & Proposal Opportunity?

You have confirmed with the prospect that your multi-threading technology is a solution that will solve their problem and now you are building a business case & proposal with solid ROI metrics. They intend to buy the solution, and the executive/economic buyer is aligned with a Company executive and on board with the decision to move forward. 

  • Forecast Category: Most Likely
  • Our Deal Risk: Budget secured, Negotiations/Legal, AOGs - act of "god" - an unforeseeable circumstance that is unavoidable, such as a layoff or champion/EB turnover. Lack of multi-threading = risk. 
  • Avg Days in S4: XX
  • S4 conversion to Closed Won: XX%

👤 BUYER IS DOING: Internally evangelizing to all Decision makers that our Platform IS the solution, starting to submit our paperwork to legal and security review, allowing access to the buying team

Exit Criteria:

  • SSO/ID PROVIDER: You have identified how the prospect will permission their licenses internally and walked the Product Owner through the process at at high level
  • ROI/PROPOSAL DECK: Deck has been built, linked & presented with the Quote/Proposal for purposes of legal & negotiations to all parties involved in making the final decision
  • TECH TRACKER: Identifying how YOUR TECHNOLOGY will be used WITH their current learning tool eco-system.
  • USER PROVISIONING METHOD: You have identified how the prospect will provision their licenses internally and walked the Product Owner through the process at at high level
  • PILOT: Yes or No (if yes, see HERE)
  • BUDGET STATUS: Secured
  • SECURITY STATUS: Completed 

Seller Activities:  

  • Technical Validation: Validating that their technical compatibility within the 'Prospects' environment (this doc) IT Validation (only if required by prospect) A Solutions Consultant is, or may be involved in depth with the various points of contact.  🐙 Technical Workshop
  • Security: Start Security documents & legal discussions 🐙 ENT MSA w/ SLA and DPA  🐙 Security Questionnaire Process
  • Building Business Case & Proposal: Executive Alignment presentation with signor and 🐙 Executive Sponsor to present a solid 🐙 Business Case & 🐙 ROI Proposal Deck  🐙 Proposal DECK & talk track 🐙 ROI Calculator 🧾 Master Quote 
  • Executive Alignment: Internal Execs and Prospects Executives have aligned or connected for future partnership.
  • Onboarding and Support alignment: Discussion with stakeholders on 🐙 Testimonials: Implementation, rollouts, ease of setup & expectations of content support, provisioning and rollout plan outline started for CS handoff. 🐙 CSM Onboarding Template Decks & 🐙 Deployment Plan
  • Vendor of Choice: We are confirmed 🐙 Vendor of Choice 

Customize the below template for your organization and surface this coaching directly where your reps are prospecting to drive pipeline with Spekit.

1. Sales Resource | Master Proposal Deck

What is a Proposal Deck and when should it be used?

The proposal deck should be used during stage 4 of the sales cycle. It enables us to communicate our company's specific value to a specific prospect in a compelling, polished way. It helps us establish credibility and builds confidence in our product to accelerate momentum towards a closed won deal.

Why is a Proposal Deck important?

The proposal deck serves a few key purposes:

  • Differentiates our company from our competitors/alternatives
  • This grants us another opportunity to:
    • Confirm their pain points, goals, and use cases
    • Further, cement our partnership
    • Counter any remaining objections and remove any blockers to the deal
    • Set expectations with the prospect
    • Establish our company as the right solution
  • Helps streamline the pre- to post-sales handoff by ensuring the prospect’s team (AE, CSM, Content, Support, etc.) is aligned and well-versed on the customers’ needs, goals, and concerns.

2.  Words that close


❌ In negotiations, most reps say list price or typical price or standard price - MAJOR no-no.

That language extends sales cycles by 19% when it’s used at any point in a deal. Saying list price TRIPLES the time you spend on pricing if it’s said in your first two sales calls.

✔️ Instead, say the approved price.

The buyer believes the price was set by someone else and can’t be changed.

2. USE “I” NOT “WE”

❌ Feels counterintuitive, right? Words like we and you are imperative in establishing connection and trust with your buyer. But once you hit negotiations, drop it.

✔️ Switch to “I’m pleased to offer you X price on our product.”

Buyers will happily push back against an organization when they hear “We have a great price for you.” They have a harder time pushing back against you as a person when you say, “I have a great price for you.”


❌ When a buyer raises any issue during negotiations, don’t counter with “I have the perfect solution” or “Can I make a suggestion?” Those phrases put buyers on the defensive.

✔️ Before offering a solution, use this phrase: “Can I bounce a few thoughts off you?” It creates genuine openness in the buyer, so they want to hear what you have to say.


❌ Apologizing is a great tactic, just don’t ever apologize for your actual price. As in... never say, “I’m sorry the price seems high to you.”

✔️ Use apologies in negotiating phrases like, “I’m sorry. I want to offer you that number, but I’ve been told it’s not doable.”

If you apologize for the price, the buyer feels justified in balking at it. But using sorry in negotiations creates a mutual sense of empathy, and buyers will accept your final offer more easily if they empathize with your position.


Before you’re too shocked to read on, we mean the word fair.

✔️ Top performers use the word fair ~1.7x in each deal. Average and low-performers - Just 0.2x. 

Use a phrase like, “Would that be fair” in the end-stage of a deal to ask a question, handle an objection, get buy-in, or set the next steps.

Everyone wants to be perceived as fair, and be treated fairly. Say this word out loud to get agreement that it’s really happening. It’ll feel good for everyone.


There’s nothing wrong with letting your buyer feel in control of negotiations.

❌ So when they ask for four free months and a 12% discount, don’t say no.

✔️ Give them the reins by asking them, “How am I supposed to do that? How can I ask my CFO to give you 30 days AND erase the implementation fee?”

It puts them in charge. And if they can’t give you a decent answer, it makes your predicament clear and helps them understand your position.


❌ Don't assume what your prospect is referencing

✔️ People reveal more than normal when they hear their own words said back to them... as a question. And that’s what you want from them — more information so you know which strategies will win a deal. 

It’ll make sense when you read this:

Buyer:Our reps don’t handle objections well. They always fumble the ball and it’s really frustrating.
  • Sales rep: Fumble the ball?
Buyer:Yeah. They answer inconsistently, but we’re not sure why.
  • Sales rep: Inconsistently?
Buyer: Yes, I suppose that’s my big-picture problem: All my sales reps handle their calls differently. I can’t get them to stick to the approved narrative or process.

There you go. It’s everything you need to frame their problem and your solution. It elicits information from your buyer without directly asking for more information, which can sometimes make buyers clam up.

Source: Gong's Words That Close Cheat Sheet

3. Budget: Operation Expenses vs. Capital Expenses

Budget in any company falls into 2 main buckets: Operating Expenses (OpEx) and Capital Expenses (CapEx)

Operating Expenses: 

These are the day-to-day expenses a company incurs to keep its business operational.

These expenses must be ordinary and customary costs for the industry in which the company operates. Companies report OPEX on their income statements and can deduct OPEX from their taxes for the year in which the expenses were incurred.

The following are common examples of operating expenses:

  • Rent and utilities
  • Wages and salaries
  • Accounting and legal fees
  • Overhead costs such as selling, general, and administrative expenses (SG&A)
  • Property taxes
  • Business travel
  • Interest paid on debt

OPEX also consists of research and development (R&D) expenses and the cost of goods sold (COGS). Operating expenses are incurred through normal business operations. The goal of any company is to maximize output relative to OPEX. In this way, OPEX represents a core measurement of a company's efficiency over time.

Capital Expenses: 

These are major purchases a company makes that are designed to be used over the long term.

CapEx are purchases of significant goods or services that will be used to improve a company's performance in the future. Capital expenditures are typically for fixed assets like property, plant, and equipment (PP&E). For example, if an oil company buys a new drilling rig, the transaction would be a capital expenditure.

🔗 Operating Expenses vs Capital Expenses article

4. Getting executive alignment

Bringing up and achieving executive alignment during a sales call is crucial for ensuring a successful and smooth sales process. 

Some steps and strategies to help you handle and bring up executive alignment on a Sales Call:

  • Do Your Research: Before the call, gather information about the executives you'll be speaking to. Understand their roles, responsibilities, challenges, and priorities within their organization. This will help you tailor your approach and message to resonate with their needs.
  • Start with a Strong Opening: Begin the call by addressing the executives directly and acknowledging their importance. Express your understanding of their role and challenges. This demonstrates that you've done your homework and are focused on their specific needs.
  • Ask Strategic Questions: Pose open-ended questions that encourage executives to share their insights, goals, and challenges. This could include questions like:"What are the top priorities for your organization this quarter/year?""How does this initiative align with your company's strategic objectives?""What challenges are you currently facing in achieving your goals?"
  • Highlight Business Value: Shift the conversation from features and benefits to the business outcomes your product or service can deliver. Emphasize how your solution aligns with the executives' strategic goals and helps them address their challenges.
  • Share Relevant Success Stories: Provide examples of how your solution has successfully addressed similar challenges for other organizations. Use case studies or success stories to illustrate the positive impact your offering can have on their business.
  • Leverage Social Proof: Mention any well-known clients or partners who have already achieved success with your solution. This can help build credibility and reassure executives of your solution's effectiveness.
  • Quantify ROI: Whenever possible, provide quantifiable data on how your solution can deliver a return on investment (ROI) or cost savings. Executives are more likely to be interested if they see a clear financial benefit.
  • Address Risks and Concerns: Anticipate any objections or concerns the executives might have and proactively address them. This shows that you've thought through their perspective and are prepared to handle potential challenges.
  • Focus on the Big Picture: Frame the conversation in terms of the broader strategic impact and long-term benefits. Help executives see how your solution aligns with their vision for the future.
  • Ask for Their Input: Involve the executives in the decision-making process by seeking their input on how your solution can best meet their needs. This helps create a sense of ownership and alignment.
  • Suggest a Next Step: Towards the end of the call, propose a specific next step that involves executive involvement, such as a follow-up meeting with a larger team or a demonstration tailored to their needs.
  • Follow Up: After the call, send a personalized follow-up email summarizing the key points discussed and reiterating your commitment to addressing their specific needs.

5.  ROI Calculator Template

👇 Below is a template for an ROI (Return on Investment) calculator that you can customize to suit your specific product or service. This template will help your prospects estimate the potential financial benefits of implementing your solution.

[Your Company Logo]

ROI Calculator: [Your Product/Service Name]

1. Enter your current data in the "Current State" column.
2. Enter your projected data after implementing our solution in the "With [Your Solution]" column.
3. The calculator will automatically calculate the ROI and other financial metrics.

| Metric                     | Current State     | With [Your Solution] |
| Total Annual Revenue       | $                  | $                     |
| Total Annual Costs         | $                  | $                     |
| Gross Margin               |                    |                       |
| (Revenue - Costs)         |                    |                       |
| Cost of [Your Solution]    | $                  |                       |
| Implementation Expenses    | $                  |                       |
| Training Costs             | $                  |                       |
| Maintenance Fees           | $                  |                       |
| Other Costs                | $                  |                       |
| Net Annual Benefit         |                    |                       |
| (Gross Margin - [Your     |                    |                       |
| Solution Costs)           |                    |                       |
| ROI (%)                    |                    |                       |
| (Net Annual Benefit /      |                    |                       |
| [Your Solution Costs]) x 100 |                    |                       |
| Payback Period (months)    |                    |                       |
| (Total Costs / Net Annual  |                    |                       |
| Benefit)                   |                    |                       |
| Breakeven Point            |                    |                       |
| (Months until ROI reached) |                    |                       |

[Additional Notes or Assumptions:]
[You can include any additional information or assumptions that were used in the calculations here.]

This ROI calculator is intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered financial advice. Actual results may vary based on specific circumstances.

For a personalized ROI assessment or to discuss the potential benefits of [Your Solution] for your organization, please contact us at [Your Contact Information].


6.  Running a pre-sales workshop template

Pre-sales workshops are a great way to engage with prospects, understand their needs, and showcase the value of your product or service. Here's a template you can use to outline the agenda and key details for running a pre-sales workshop. 

Pre-Sales Workshop Agenda 

  • Workshop Title: [Title of the Workshop]
  • Date: [Date of the Workshop] Time[Start Time] - [End Time]
  • Location: [Physical/Virtual Location]
  • Workshop Facilitators: [Your Name], [Your Title] [Additional Facilitators if applicable] 


  • Welcome and Introductions: Brief introduction to the purpose and goals of the workshop. Participants introduce themselves and share their roles and expectations.
  • Understanding Your Challenges and Goals: Interactive session to discuss participants' current challenges, pain points, and business goals.Facilitators actively listen and ask probing questions to gain a deep understanding.
  • Overview of [Your Product/Service]: Presentation or demonstration of key features, benefits, and use cases of your product or service.Emphasis on how your solution addresses the challenges discussed earlier.
  • Tailoring the Solution: Group discussion on how [Your Product/Service] can be customized to fit participants' specific needs. Brainstorming session to explore potential configurations or integrations.
  • Hands-On Experience: Participants engage in a guided hands-on session with [Your Product/Service].They have the opportunity to interact with the solution and experience its functionality.
  • Value Proposition and ROI: Presentation on the potential return on investment (ROI) and financial benefits of adopting your solution. Case studies or success stories illustrating the impact on other organizations.
  • Q&A and Open Discussion: Participants are encouraged to ask questions and share their thoughts.Facilitators address inquiries and provide additional insights.
  • Next Steps and Closing: Presentation of the possible next steps in the sales process.Summary of key takeaways and actionable items for both parties.Express gratitude for participants' time and engagement.
  • Networking and Follow-Up: Informal networking session for participants to connect with each other and the facilitators.Facilitators provide contact information for further discussions and follow-up.
  • Optional: Materials and Resources: Handouts or digital materials summarizing key points and benefits.Contact details for reaching out to the facilitators for additional information.

7.  Prospect security questionnaire

Instructions: This questionnaire is intended to gather information about your organization's security practices and protocols. Your responses will help us better understand your security requirements and ensure that our products/services align with your needs. Please provide detailed and accurate information for each question.

  • Organization Information: Company Name: Contact Person: Contact Email: Date:
  • General Security Practices: Please provide an overview of your organization's approach to information security and data protection.Do you have an established information security policy or set of guidelines? If yes, could you provide a brief summary or share a link?How does your organization handle access control and user authentication for your systems and data?
  • Data Protection: What types of sensitive or confidential data does your organization handle (e.g., customer information, financial data, intellectual property)?How do you ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of your sensitive data?Are you compliant with any industry-specific regulations or standards related to data protection (e.g., GDPR, HIPAA, PCI DSS)? If yes, please specify.
  • Incident Response: Could you describe your organization's process for detecting, reporting, and responding to security incidents or data breaches?Do you have a documented incident response plan? If so, how frequently is it tested or updated?
  • Vendor and Third-Party Management: How do you assess the security posture of third-party vendors or partners who have access to your systems or data?Are vendors required to adhere to specific security requirements or standards? If yes, please provide details.
  • Employee Training and Awareness: How do you educate and train your employees about security best practices and potential threats?Do you conduct regular security awareness training sessions for your employees? If so, how often?
  • Physical Security: What measures does your organization have in place to secure physical access to your facilities, data centers, or critical infrastructure?How do you handle visitor access and authentication within your premises?
  • Encryption and Data Transmission: How does your organization encrypt sensitive data in transit and at rest?Do you use secure protocols (e.g., HTTPS, SSL/TLS) for communication between systems and applications?
  • Backup and Disaster Recovery: Could you provide an overview of your organization's backup and disaster recovery procedures?How often are backups performed, and how quickly can your organization recover from a data loss event?

Thank you for taking the time to complete the Prospect Security Questionnaire. Your responses will help us tailor our offerings to meet your security requirements and ensure a successful partnership. Please return this questionnaire to your designated contact at our organization or email it to [Your Email Address]. If you have any questions or require further clarification, please don't hesitate to reach out to us.

Creating urgency during the sales discovery stage is crucial to motivate prospects to take action and move forward in the buying process. Urgency helps prevent prospects from delaying decisions indefinitely and encourages them to prioritize your solution.

Additional Resources: