Many people don’t like proposals because they are a pain, and many think it is too much of an unknown. Don’t worry, we’ll know more about there is so much hate in a sales proposal process.

It’s happened to all of us. In the sales proposal process, we send out a proposal, and the prospect never responds back.

As a manager, we found out the reasons why sales presentations are often ignored. We learned that these post-proposal evaluations were based on feedback from dozens of exasperated proposal evaluators who just want to get through this process and move onto something else.


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  • A company in the Financial Services or Banking industry
  • Who have more than 10 employees
  • That spend money on Adwords
  • Who use Hubspot
  • Who currently have job openings for marketing help
  • With the role of HR Manager
  • That has only been in this role for less than 1 year
Just to give you an idea. 😀

Why your prospect hates your sales proposal process

When buyers and procurement managers are evaluating proposals, there are five common themes that can be fixed if you know what to look for. The first thing is the experience in past bids. If they have a lot of previous bad experiences with certain vendors, it may impact how much consideration your proposal gets.

1. You didn’t follow instructionsNot Following Instructions

It’s surprising how often procurement professionals say that when sales reps don’t follow directions, it can have a major impact on the proposal.

It is easy to become complacent when you are in a high-volume sales position. You may be excited about the new RFP, but as soon as you start reading it and recognize that it sounds similar to other requests for proposals, your eyes glaze over.

In a fast-paced environment, it can be difficult to manage all the competing priorities. But when you skip reading and checking requirements in an RFP, they may think that their business is not worth your time. When this happens people might see carelessness or arrogance from you.

There are a lot of reasons why proposals get rejected, including late submission, incorrect format or exceeding the page limit. If you lose an opportunity because your proposal was over the page limit and it had to do with verbose SMEs responses then that’s really unfortunate.

Procurement managers take the time to make RFPs as concise and specific, so if they did include instructions, it’s important not to ignore them.

2. It’s too boring

Your proposal can’t be as gripping as a Stephen King novel, but it doesn’t have to. It just has to stand out.

Another thing about the sales proposal process is when reviewing proposals from vendors, they often have to go through hundreds of pages. It’s hard for them and we should be more considerate with brevity.

When responding to an RFP, don’t spend two pages talking about CRM technology and your company’s customer service philosophy. Instead provide a quick overview of what you can offer them, some resources they might want to know more about if they are interested in hiring you for the job, and link back to their website.

If you’re asked to provide data, consider using charts or graphics that illustrate the point better. For example, this proposal from FedEx is a great illustration of how much more interesting and engaging visuals are compared with raw numbers.

sales proposal process

Make your responses short and to the point. Ask yourself these three questions about the information in each response: 1) What is it? 2) How do I know that this happened or exists? 3) Why does this matter? Why should they care?

  • When it comes to content, don’t let information intended for one customer slip into your proposal. Make sure the info you use is relevant and directly addresses their needs.
  • If you want to elaborate on a specific topic, make sure it serves your purpose. For example, if I’m trying to point out differentiators or provide proof points for my process that would add value, then explaining the background of how this all came about is important.
  • Is this information timely? Is it relevant to the customer right now, or can you save it for when they’re more invested in your productservice and need additional details about pricing etc.?

When you’re writing a request for proposal, it’s best to limit your words and edit input from subject matter experts. This will help them understand what you need.

3. It’s ugly

When it comes to sales proposal process, if you ask a procurement professional about their most memorable proposals, they’ll usually tell you one that was either impressive or downright terrible. It’s the outside of it more than anything else.

When it comes to proposals, most salespeople tend not to care about visual appeal. They just want the content and pricing strategy.

It can be hard to know what kind of style you should use for your company, but it’s really important. If you start with a standard format and keep it simple, then there will be less editing later on.

FedEx’s proposal is a good example of the impact that well-composed proposals can have. Notice how they use colors and headers to make their company approachable.

sales proposal process

 

When we start working on a proposal, we always look for consistency. The quickest and most effective way to do this is by checking the document over before you send it out.

  • Margins
  • Headers
  • Product terminology
  • Font type and size

When you have a deadline coming up, don’t forget to go back and check your proposal for consistency.

4. It’s all about you

When it comes to proposals, many sellers focus on themselves and not the customer. If they do mention their clients at all, they only talk about how much work will be done for them without really explaining why or what problem is being solved.

As sales professionals, we spend most of our time focused on the company that we work for. We come up with new pitches to beat out competition and explore every feature of what it is that we sell.

When you’re writing a proposal, make sure that the customer is always your focus. In each section of the proposal, ask yourself if it solves their problem or helps them reach their goals.

5. You haven’t done your homework

The prospect expects you to be able to speak their language by the time they get to the proposal stage of your sales process. If you try and fake it, they’ll know and won’t appreciate that you wasted their time.

The stakes are high in the business world, and more than one transaction may depend on your proposal being accurate. Buyers want vendors who understand their needs for a long-term partnership.

The procurement manager I spoke with recently said that they’ve been frustrated because a few of the vendors who won their RFP didn’t reply to them after submitting proposals. Consequently, when those same companies submitted different proposals for other jobs, some included information that was irrelevant and others missed certain requirements.

Always ask questions, so you can continue to build your rapport. You’ll quickly discover if this is a fit for you or not.

Conclusion

The future of the RFP process is more collaborative and transparent, but in the meantime you should follow instructions, make it interesting by keeping focused on your prospect’s needs instead of just yourself.


Need Help Automating Your Sales Prospecting Process?

LeadFuze gives you all the data you need to find ideal leads, including full contact information.

Go through a variety of filters to zero in on the leads you want to reach. This is crazy specific, but you could find all the people that match the following: 

  • A company in the Financial Services or Banking industry
  • Who have more than 10 employees
  • That spend money on Adwords
  • Who use Hubspot
  • Who currently have job openings for marketing help
  • With the role of HR Manager
  • That has only been in this role for less than 1 year
Just to give you an idea. 😀
Editors Note:

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Justin McGill
About Author: Justin McGill
Justin McGill is the Founder of LeadFuze - a lead generation platform that discovers new leads for you automatically. Get 25 leads free.