When sales professionals are tasked with putting together a proposal, many want to run the other way. But with the right knowledge, preparation and skills, proposals should be nothing to fear.
Writing a proposal and taking the time to ensure it's done right is key to landing more deals and earning more business. And according to HubSpot, companies' top sales priority is closing more deals.
The proposal needs to outline what you can do for a client, how you will do it and what it will cost them. You can't just throw a bunch of numbers down on a page and expect your client to sign with you.
By being strategic with your pitch and writing the proposal in the correct way, you'll make it more likely that prospects will close. Learn how to improve your proposal writing skills and the proposal process with tips from these 10 sales experts:
1. Understand the customer
In an article for HubSpot, Spencer Powell, inbound marketing director at Builder Funnel, says, "The best thing you can do as an agency to win more proposals is to thoroughly diagnose your prospect's problems and create your proposal around solving those problems."
What challenges is your prospect facing? Once you identify these, you need to figure out how your product or service can help. Then, frame your proposal in a way that shows how your prospect's needs will be addressed.
2. Lay the groundwork
The proposal should not be the first step of the sales process. It should be a continuation of previous conversations you've had with a prospect.
Speaking to HubSpot, Gray MacKenzie, founder of GuavaBox, said, "Prior to submitting a proposal, make sure you have clearly defined all the major points verbally with the potential customer. By discussing the scope, cost, timeline, and details prior to submitting a written proposal, you can uncover objections earlier in the process."
3. Focus on the 'how'
It's not enough to just say your products and services can help solve a problem. You need to focus on the details and what steps will actually be taken to achieve that solution.
"Don't talk about what you can do for the potential new client, but instead focus on showing them how," says Marc Herschberger, director of marketing at Revenue River Marketing, in an article for HubSpot. "Spend time understanding the prospect's business and current challenges, and walk them through your agency's process and onboarding strategy to show them the level of detail and organization you use to set them up for success."
4. Don't over-promise
"Be honest on expectations," David Gerhardt, director of business development and communications at Arbill Industries, tells HubSpot. "Don't overpromise and underdeliver. Instead, under-promise and over-deliver."
Sometimes, sales reps exaggerate the capabilities of the products and services they are trying to sell. The proposal is not the place to do this. Be honest about how much you can help and don't hyperbolize.
5. Validate your claims
Podcast and marketing consultant Matthew Bivens tells HubSpot, "Make sure you have great success stories that you can share with potential clients. At the end of the day, most, if not all, potential clients want to know you will provide value to them and generate positive ROI."
People tend to trust their peers more than they trust sales reps. That's why success stories are key to building that trust. They act as evidence to back up your claims and set your prospect's mind at ease.
6. Identify decision makers
In an article on his blog, sales motivational speaker Andy Preston says, "Failure to establish the decision makers involved will mean that you could go all the way through the process, and then fall at the final hurdle as someone else comes in to influence the buying decision that you weren't aware of!"
As with any piece of content, you need to know who you are speaking to and writing for. The key decision makers should be the only audience for your proposal, and you need to know who they are before you begin writing.
7. Be confident
In an article for HubSpot, Ed Marsh, founder of Consilium Global Business Advisors, says, "It sounds backwards, but don't send a proposal until you know why and when you'll win it. You should have addressed all the reasons why you might not have won the account. A proposal should be the written version of your verbal project agreement."
If you believe your product is the right match for a prospect and know it would help them, then the proposal should just be a formality. Write it with the idea that you will win.
8. Be fair in pricing
On the Salesforce blog, Jordi Storken, account executive at Salesforce, says, "Always start with list prices in your initial proposal. Discounting your products in the first proposal basically says you don't believe your products are worth paying list price for."
You want to make a good deal, but don't sell yourself short. Prepare a quote that is fair to your prospect, but ensures you sell for what your product is worth.
9. Don't forget about design
In an article for HubSpot, Bernie Borges, founder and CEO of Find and Convert, says, "In addition to providing a compelling and relevant proposal that clearly speaks to the client's business needs, the one thing an agency can do to stand out is to deliver a visually compelling proposal."
Don't underestimate the power of a well-designed proposal. Strong visuals make a good impression, are more attractive and make the proposal easier to read.
10. Remember to proofread
In an article for Inc, sales blogger and author Geoffrey James writes, "Appearance is as important as content. There should be no obvious grammatical errors and an absolute minimum of typographical errors."
No matter how good your proposal is, one typo can leave a bad impression with a prospect. Make sure you and your team read over the proposal several times before sending it over to avoid any potential errors.
Do you have any tips for writing proposals? Let me know in the comments below: