Ah, the sales proposal. One of, if not the most important steps in any sales process. A proposal is a crucial document that is often overlooked as unnecessary work, but in many companies, a formal proposal is the basis for an internal discussion. And it’s these discussions that will lead to closing or losing a deal.
A proposal’s content should be lovingly hand crafted, designed to elicit a positive response from your buyer and gain that elusive ‘Yes’, not copied and pasted from the last proposal you sent. After all, this is your commission on the line, so why not devote some care and attention to creating each one?
Here are some of my top tips to crafting the perfect sales proposal:
1. Keep it to the point
Imagine if your sales proposal were landing on your desk – would you really spend your time thumbing through a lengthy document? No? So why should you expect your prospect to do the same?
The key to a brilliant sales proposal is to say only what you need say. There’s no need to reel off endless facts about how great your product or service is, they’ve probably already judged this for themselves. So telling them again will only make it seem like you think they’re stupid and haven’t been listening.
Treat your prospect as an intelligent being, draw on their past knowledge of your offering and keep your sales proposal succinct! Any more than two pages of A4 is too much in my opinion, no one has the time or inclination to read any more than that.
2. Offer choice
Now, while when I say keep it short and sweet, your sales proposal should offer some choice and options for your buyer. Not only will this let you sneak in some other (and more expensive) alternatives or promotions, but will make it seem that you’ve taken the time to craft a personal offer for your potential customer to get to the point of requesting a proposal. And everyone likes to be looked after don’t they?
Laying your standard offer on the line just looks lazy; take the time to think about what may best suit your prospect. This might be the nudge they need to opt for a more expensive alternative.
3. Focus on your customer
This is where so many keen salespeople fall down in their proposal writing. Talking ‘me, me, me’ rather than ‘you, you, you’. Your entire sales process should revolve around your customer. This doesn’t end when you’re drafting up a proposal.
Take the time to really understand the nitty-gritty of how your solution benefits your customer. Reiterate this in your sales proposal; it’s not a pitch, just a reminder of how you can help their business. Demonstrate that you understand their needs and wants and give your proposal some substance. If you can’t demonstrate now that you know their business’ challenges, why on earth will they ever sign on the dotted line?
4. Keep it simple
Now is not the time to throw lots of jargon at your prospect; keep it as simple as you can, without coming across as patronizing. You’ve done your pitch, they obviously liked it and can see value in your product, and, as a result, they aren’t clueless as to what it is you can provide their business.
Keep it simple, but compelling and reassuring enough to encourage your buyer to choose your company as their supplier. Outline why you’re submitting this proposal and how you can help their business, your pricing and the next steps should they agree to your offering.
5. Outline next steps
This follows very nicely from my last point. Your prospective buyer shouldn’t come to the end of your proposal, wondering what to do next. Should they call? Email? Send a carrier pigeon?
You need to outline which of you will make the next move. I’d always recommend that the ball be in your court: you’ll make the call for any further discussions or will be in touch at 10am on Thursday to catch up, for example.
And if you think it’s right for this prospect, a proposal is the perfect place to ask for a signature, so why not make it an order form too? It’s not forceful, but could be a push in the right direction for your ‘ready to buy’ prospect. What’s more, if you’re sending your proposals electronically – there are a number of eSignature tools that can help.
What do you think makes the perfect sales proposal? Share your thoughts and tips in the comments below.