Are you struggling to write sales proposals that work?
Do you find yourself constantly thinking that a sales proposal is a total waste of time?
Selling can be a truly magical process, even sacred. There is something mystical when you move from one step of the sales process to another.
That’s what many sales people love most about their jobs, those moments of total transcendence in their work, when there is a perfect symbiosis between them and their prospects and everything feels as if touched by magic.
However, it all falls crumbling when they reach the final hurdle, a sales proposal.
Let’s face it, nothing is more boring than writing a document that supposedly no one’s going to read. Or even if they open it, they will go straight to the last page, where you mention the price.
Why would you write it then?
- A sales proposal gives you a chance to confirm in writing everything that you have agreed with the client.
- It is a document which can outline the future our your business relationship.
- It also makes the process more standardized.
All in all, a sales proposal is a document that you simply must write, regardless of how little magic is in it.
To better understand the sales proposal, let’s look at everything that there is to know about it.
Sales Proposal – An Overview
In short, a sales proposal is a written offer from a sales person or a business to a prospect. The document usually outlines all aspects of a proposed solution or a product, along with price, delivery information, warranty agreements and more.
Quite often, a sales proposal is created after the initial talks with a prospect and thus it simply reinstate what has already been agreed at a meeting. However, it can also be created as a tender proposal during a process of pitching for the work.
The usual elements of the sales proposal include:
1. Your Understanding of the Assignment
You can use this part to remind your client of the problem they are seeking out to solve and confirm that you understand it.
2. Solutions that You Propose
This part of a sales proposal outlines exactly what you intend to be delivering. It states how your solutions meet the clients requirements. It is a good idea to also include a project implementation plan along with any assumptions you have made along the way. And, it should also explain what makes your solutions different from your competition.
3. Costs and Timelines
This part contains information about the timelines in the project, what will be delivered when and what are the costs associated with the project. This section should also include any payment related terms and conditions, taxes and added expenses information.
4. An Executive Summary of Your Company
A brief introduction to your company and product or service.
5. Your Terms and Conditions
A sales proposal should also include all the information about how you work, what you would be expecting from a client and what you will be bound to deliver.
Problems with Sales Proposals
There are several issues with sales proposals:
- they are expensive to create
- time-consuming to get them right
- it is hard to be consistent with the message across various documents
- when it comes to using them for tenders, your success rate can be quite low
Having said all that, there are still more cons of using a sales proposal in your selling process than not.
5 Tips to Improve Your Sales Proposals
1. Template Whatever You Can
Thanks to the typical and quite clear structure of a sales proposal, you can easily break it down into smaller bits, organised around a skeleton of topic headings. These headings can be structured to form a storyboard that will guide the buyer through your proposal. As a result, many parts of your document can come from a template, meaning that you will not have to spend that much time writing it.
2. Personalize The Intro
As many parts of your document will be created from a template, you should make sure that those sections that your clients will read first, namely the introduction are either fully custom written for them or at least contain something that might suggest that they were.
Include something relevant to the client in your sales proposal but try to avoid any general sentences as “After careful examination of your brief…”. Instead, focus on and mention an exact detail of the clients problem.
3. Spend The Most Time Creating The Solutions Section
The solutions you propose are second reason, after who you are, your place on the market and the impression you have made on the prospect during the sales process, that will influence their buying decision. Therefore, make sure that you spend the most time on writing them down.
Naturally, you can template some parts but make sure that what you are sending to the client is not just a listing of your services or some generalized sentences that lack any essence.
4. Make Your Costs Page Clear
Price page will be the one that your prospect or client will refer to the most. In fact, often, it will be the very first page they will go to in the document.
Therefore, make sure that that price page in your sales proposal is clear and easy to understand, that there are no hidden costs and your terms and conditions are clearly laid out.
5. Use Active Voice
Use the active voice (“I/we will…”) to avoid leaving any room for debate or misinterpretation. Make sure that what you will deliver is clearly communicated in the sales proposal and that it is definite and easy to understand by anyone.
What are the hurdles you have met with writing sales proposals? Let me know in the comments.
Photo credit: mpclemens via Flickr Commercial License