Love it or hate it, a sales proposal is a critical part of every successful deal. Although some salespeople consider it a waste of time, if done properly, it can not only help you close more deals, but also enable you to explore up-sell opportunities and drive more revenues.
A well-written sales proposal gives you a chance to show that you understand your prospect’s needs, that you have listened to them diligently, and that you’ll provide a compelling solution.
Checklist for Your Sales Proposal
Here’s a 4-step checklist to help you evaluate your sales proposal
- Is it organized?
- Is it readable?
- Does it address your prospect’s pain point?
- Does it provide pricing and timeline?
Is it organized?
Often, when we work on a sales proposal, we end up filling it with a lot of content. Sure, you may know your sales proposal in and out. But is it organized well enough to help your prospects easily search through it and find the information they’re looking for?
Are all the sections organized logically? Do they support your story?
A thin, well-organized proposal is more effective than a detailed, unorganized document.
Is it readable?
Although your proposal needs to be written professionally, it should also be easy to understand. If you add too much jargon and too many technical information, it will turn off your readers.
It’s essential to communicate the complexities in a lucid way. Break down the problem and make your solution easy to understand. If your proposal is hard to read, then your prospects will assume that your solution is difficult to implement, or requires highly knowledgeable experts.
Remember, your sales proposal will, often, be reviewed by multiple stakeholders. The easier it is to understand your proposal, the sooner you’ll be able to build a consensus, and close the deal.The easier it is to understand your proposal, the sooner you’ll be able to build a consensus, and close the deal.Click To Tweet
Sometimes you might not be able to meet all the decision makers at the same time. In such cases, your proposal is likely to be passed around via email, with no one to present its information on your behalf. So keep your proposal simple and intuitive.
Does it address your prospect’s pain points?
Make sure that your proposal directly addresses your prospect’s pain points. When we spend weeks working on a proposal, it’s possible to drown the essentials amidst details.
Your proposal should clearly describe the problem and why it’s detrimental to your prospect’s business. It should also explain how your solution can help them solve their problem.
Does it address pricing and timeline?
No prospect likes ambiguity, especially when it comes to how much they need to pay and how long it will take to benefit from your solution.
Be transparent and provide them estimates upfront.
Ensure that you help them understand the variables (e.g users, data, projects) your pricing is based on. For example, do they need to pay double if they double their users? This will enable your prospects to forecast how their expenses will grow as their usage increases.
If you provide huge discounts for bulk requirements, make sure to highlight it.
Also, point out the things that are unlimited (e.g 24×7 support, unlimited reports) in your solution. If your competitor charges for any of these things, this might help you clinch the deal.
It can be tricky to estimate the timeline. I’ve seen prospects come up with new requirements when we’re in the middle of the execution phase, which only pushes things further. So make sure you clearly communicate the underlying caveats. For example, you’ll be able to implement your solution in 2 months, provided there are only up to 2 rounds of requirements gathering within the next 2 weeks.
Finally, make the purchase experience quick and easy. Describe the various payment methods supported by your business, how they can use them, and what they can expect after they make the payment.
Writing a Winning Sales Proposal
To create a great buying experience for your prospects that closes the deal, you need to provide relevant and practical content in your proposal.
Although the actual format of sales proposal varies from person to person, it’s a tool that you can use to convince your prospects to purchase your solution to their problem.
Here’s a 5 step checklist to write a winning proposal
- Write a personalized cover letter
- Focus on the ‘why’
- Include customer testimonials
- Make it easy for prospects to do business with you
- It should be accessible on mobile
1. Write a personalized cover letter
Many salespeople send the same cover letter in all their proposals. Prospects can easily see through it, and assume that they’re just another lead for you and not a valuable potential customer.
Your cover letter will receive the most views and sets the tone for your proposal. So it needs to not only capture your prospect’s attention but also connect with them emotionally.
Place the most relevant, differentiating information about your solution and company in the most valuable real estate of your page — above the fold.
2. Focus on the why
While preparing your sales proposal, it’s easy to get lost in details and flood it with “what” your solution does — its capabilities, features and benefits.
However, it’s more important to focus on “why” your solution will solve your prospect’s problem. Remember, they’re already evaluating various potential solutions and are likely to know what each of them is basically capable of doing. So you need to convince them as to why your product/service is the most suitable one.
Most sales proposals are focused on what they can provide to prospects. It’s more important to communicate the outcomes your prospect will achieve as a result of the deal.It’s more important to communicate the outcomes your prospect will achieve as a result of the deal.Click To Tweet
Prospects don’t pay for features and deliverables, they pay for outcomes and results. Use your sales proposal as an opportunity to showcase your solution’s unique selling proposition (USP) and prove its ROI.
The beginning portions of your proposal should address the problems that your prospect is facing. This will turn your proposal into a working document that basically outlines client objectives, a powerful way to persuade your prospects.
3. Include customer testimonials
Did you know that 72% of people think positive reviews and testimonials make them trust a business more? People love to read reviews. So include them in your sales proposal to demonstrate how your solution has helped others.
However, there are couple of things to keep in mind, while using testimonials.
First, ensure that the customer in your testimonials is similar to your prospect. For example, if your prospect is a small business owner, a testimonial from the CEO of a Fortune 500 company won’t help. They’ll simply assume your solution is not meant for them.
Second, use testimonials that talk about similar use cases. For example, if your prospect is looking for a solution with superior reporting capabilities, include testimonials that talk about report generation and distribution.
Avoid using the same testimonials in all your proposals. The key is to use the ones that can strike a chord with your prospects.
4. Make it easy for prospects to do business with you
Every prospect wants an easy buying experience. Ensure that your proposal contains all the required information needed to make a buying decision.
The recipient of your proposal might not be the final decision maker. In fact, even the signer might need to get buy-ins from other influencers.
Find out all the stakeholders likely to be involved in the sales process. Include the necessary information required to convince each one of them.
For example, your proposal might be reviewed by an IT manager who needs to know about your security practices. It might also be seen by the CFO who is looking for different pricing scenarios. Make sure to include all the relevant information that will help various stakeholders make a buying a decision.
Similarly, terms and conditions are an important piece of information reviewed by lawyers to estimate the risk involved in the deal.
Package all the required information with appropriate call-to-action. If your prospect is ready to proceed with the deal, they’ll want to do it as soon as possible. Include a call-to-action that allows your prospects to electronically sign your proposal to close the deal or accept a letter of intent. It will help you quickly move the process forward.
5. It should be accessible on mobile
Today, more people are doing business on-the-go. This is especially true for decision makers such as managers and executives, who are likely to review your proposal on their phones.
So ensure that your documents can be viewed and interacted with on mobile devices.
As a salesperson, you can grow revenues in two ways — close more deals or close bigger deals. A good sales proposal helps you do both.
Start with a strong discovery process by asking thoughtful questions. Begin your sales proposal by rehashing the top three objectives your clients discuss with you.
Next, describe how your solution will add value to their business by achieving those objectives.
Finally, show them how your solution costs only a fraction of the value it delivers, making it easy to close the deal.