How to Write a Sales Proposal
A compelling sales proposal can close the deal on a unique product or service. It makes sense to take the time to build a winning sales proposal with a focus on the interests of the client. In this post we're going to talk about how to write a sales proposal that gets results.
Step 1: Establish recognition in the mind of the prospect.
Create the groundwork of awareness with targeted advertising, publications, and conferences in the marketplace. Work on sales calls, customer meeting, emails and phone calls for individual sales. Use the communications to find out more about their:
- Business model;
- Organizational structure;
- Competition; and
- Buying Behavior.
You must be able to uncover the true decision criteria that address the real concerns that they possess and the proposal must be stated as a solution that responds to their specific value system and the concerns of each type of decision-maker. Know who you will be pitching to as a mixed group will need a value proposition that addresses multiple disciplines.
Step 2: Offer creative stories.
If you are asked to submit a Request for Proposal (RFP) you'll often find a set of parameters that you must work with. However, within the rigid RFP, find ways to incorporate a creative story, such as in areas that request customer references, solution overviews and elements of a case study if possible. Richard Fouts, research director at the market research firm Gartner, shared:
A proposal theme is not unlike the plot in a novel of film. The storyline sets up the prospect’s situation, the impact it’s having on their bottom line and how you propose to deliver resolution.”
Step 3: Provide three choices to clients.
Three is the lucky number and allows potential customers to feel in control without being overwhelmed with options and related analysis. It is easy for prospects to compare the options and feel satisfied with their selection.
Begin with the highest priced option. Depending on the product or service, customers can experience some anxiety with prices that push the boundaries of the maximum that they are willing to pay. Rather than increasing this stress, going from the high priced choice toward the low priced options affords them psychological relief and a sense of value from other possibilities.
Step 4: Drive reasons to purchase home in the executive summary.
The executive summary should not be used to summarize the proposal, but rather summarize the reasons to purchase from you. It needs to focus on the basic issues and the results that can be expected from signing on. Follow a four part, “persuasive paradigm” that includes:
- The Problem/Need/Goal;
- The Expected Outcome;
- Solution Overview; and
- The Call to Action.
Emphasizing what your solution can do for your prospect and the USP of the offer will build the perception of value.
Step 5: Focus on the audience in the proposal body.
Evaluators look for details in this area that provide evidence and support of the proposed solution and your capabilities. Start each area with a summary section and provide enough information to answer and demonstrate differentiating factors in your service or product but do not offer excessive amounts of detail that may go over their heads.
Keep the sales proposal customer-centric and do the homework to understand their needs and frame your solution to show that you are listening to their concerns. That type of proposal takes home the brass ring.