sales proposal

Whether you’re new to sales or highly experienced, you’ll know that writing a great sales proposal is vital for clinching the deal. Even the best sales meetings, where you feel certain the prospect is ready to buy, often end with “if you can send all of this over in a proposal, that would be great, thanks”.

Your prospect may need to share your proposal with other important stakeholders in the buying decision.  You may be invited to present the proposal in person, to a board room or panel, or your proposal could be just a formality (here’s hoping).

Take our advice on how to prepare a perfectly tailored sales proposal, to give yourself the best chance of making the sale.

  1. Keep it brief

We know it’s tempting to pack in every possible bit of information you think the sales prospect needs to know, but try to keep it brief and to the point.  The people reading it will skim read, looking for the detail that interests them.  Make good use of sub-headings and bullet points so that you can avoid long (and possibly boring) paragraphs.

The right length for your sales proposals will vary, depending on your proposition, your business and your client.  Make every word count, referencing points that were discussed in your sales meeting and avoiding the introduction of brand new concepts.

  1. Tailor it to the prospect

We aren’t suggesting that you shouldn’t use a template, but it is vital to reflect the content of the important discussions and learnings you’ve had from the prospect that have successfully led you to this point.

Templates can help your team save time and create brand image and consistency. However, if you merely cut and paste the same content, how engaging will this be for your prospect? Avoid acronyms and industry-speak, unless you know it will be understood.

Your prospect will want to feel valued and be reassured that you listened well enough to truly understand their needs.  Set out the proposal objectives and exactly how buying from you will meet these objectives.

Demonstrate your company and proposition as best-in-class, giving no room for doubt (or for a competitor to squeeze in beside you)

  1. Avoid the market-stall sales approach

“Roll up roll up, we’ve got towels, we’ve got watches, we’ve even got lawn mowers”.  No, this is not you.

Avoid the mistake of merely listing your product’s features and benefits.  Remember, selling isn’t about you. It’s about them.

  • Features are the key facts about your proposition.
  • Benefits are what the features do for your prospect – how do they help to overcome the problem the prospect has?
  • Evidence is how you can demonstrate value, return on investment and share previous customer feedback and testimonials.

Be compelling and be tailored to your prospect’s needs as much as possible.

  1. Do you really need to offer options?

We would always suggest that you do a really awesome job of asking questions and listening to understand the prospect’s challenges and requirements.  And if you do this really well, you may be able to pinpoint just the single option that will get the prospect to buy from you.

If you feel that budget or perceived value may be an issue, it might be a good idea to offer a slightly scaled back option, to show that you are keen to begin a business relationship, even if it is at a lower investment.

Any purchasing decision includes the stage of assessing return on investment.  Go as far as you can to demonstrate that there is a clear and tangible return on investment for your prospect.

  1. If there are options, order them high to low

Don’t start at the cheapest, and work up.

Don’t opt for sandwiching the option you want them to buy in the middle of the other options.

Simply order the options high to low, and justify why each option deserves a place in the proposal.

  1. Be visuals, and tailor these too

Your prospect will be encouraged by photos and graphics which demonstrate your credibility.  A recent study showed that images can be up to 50% more effective at conveying a message. Some people communicate purely by emoji now – which we don’t recommend J

Tailor your proposal using visuals such as flowcharts, graphs or tables to present data. Consider strategic visuals like current state vs future state diagrams, a project roadmap, or a pictorial implementation plan.  Remember that taking the time to produce images which are on-brand will help you portray higher credibility and professionalism.

  1. Be easy to buy from

Remember that your proposal is an invitation to work with you. Avoid then adding a long list of terms and conditions, which make it seem difficult to work with you.

If your proposal is a challenge to read or understand, your sales prospect will switch off and you will be rejected (the bit about sales that we all find most difficult)

  1. Because we like to make things easy, here’s our checklist of what to include in a tailored sales proposal;

  • Have a welcoming cover page and introduction to your brand – use brand colours, your logo and the prospect’s logo, relevant images and a strong title.
  • Use clear sections with titles and headlines
  • State clear objectives– what does the proposal seek to achieve?
  • Demonstrate how your product or service delivers against the prospect’s objectives.
  • If you really want to wow the prospect, you could include a video
  • Include testimonials and reviews if relevant
  • Outline the price, what’s included within the price and if/when the price may expire
  • It may be necessary to include some terms and conditions (or you may wish to save this until you’ve won the contract)
  • Include a clear call to action or next steps
  • Include your contact details
  • Share a little bit about your company– your mission, values, team members, photos
  • Make sure the proposal is easily sharable – paper, digital, presentation?

We hope you found this interesting to read – thanks for taking the time.

Our next Consultative Sales Training course is running soon, if you’d like to join us, you can find out more about it and book a ticket by clicking here.  We’d love to see you there.

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