In "How to Write a Killer Sales Email," I explained how to use email to start up an email dialogue with a potential customer. This post describes the other end of that sales process--the email you send to close the deal.

A proposal email is different from the formal sales proposal written in response to an official request for proposal. I discuss formal sales proposals in "How to Write an Executive Summary."

A proposal email is a summary of the discussions and dialogues that you've had with a potential customer and a written, explicit statement of the business arrangements you've discussed.

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You write a proposal email after you've come to a basic agreement with the customer about what you're providing and what the prospective customer will pay. The proposal email has the following structure:

  1. Statement of gratitude (one sentence)
  2. Problem definition and financial impact (one or two sentences)
  3. Desired outcome (one or two sentences)
  4. Proposed solution (two to five sentences)
  5. Proposed price (one sentence)
  6. Risk reduction (one or two sentences)
  7. Next step (one sentence)

For example:

John,
First off, I'd like to thank you for the time you've spent helping me understand your needs. (statement of gratitude)
As I understand it, your service technicians are spending several hours a day driving from job to job, which is costing your company $1 million in lost revenue. (problem definition and financial impact)
You would like to reduce driving time so that your staff of technicians can service more customers. (desired outcome)
As we discussed, our OptiRout system will generate a more efficient driving itinerary, resulting in an ability to service 10 to 20 percent more customers. (proposed solution)
As you know, the base price for our product is $10,000, with ongoing support costs of $1,000 a year. This includes customizing the system to match the driving conditions in your geographical area. (proposed price)
Because of the benefits of more efficient routing, you should achieve return on investment within one month of installation. (risk reduction)
We can begin work as soon as I receive your go-ahead via email. (next step)
Mary

For complex business arrangements, you may also need to create a "letter of agreement" that specifies detailed terms. If this is the case, the next step in the proposal email would be the go-ahead for you to create the letter of agreement. I'll discuss those in a future post.

As with all business emails, make every sentence as concise as possible. Avoid jargon and biz-blab. Do not provide additional information or attempt to sell something else that hasn't been discussed. Remember: no surprises.

I'm going to repeat: no surprises. While your sales proposal email is technically a "sales document," it's not where you do the selling. You do that while you're having a dialogue (either by telephone or email interchange) with the potential customer.

I've used this template to close the final deal for dozens of projects. It's simple, straightforward, and most important, gets the job done.