Put yourself in your buyers’ shoes for a moment; you’ve just received a sales proposal on a product that could remove any hurdles and solve all your pain points. What helps you make the decision to purchase?
While lots of companies get caught up in selling their product features, they forget there is a customer with their own needs and preferences at the other end of a proposal. Even if you have a perfect solution for a prospect, it’s very easy to fall into this trap and lose the sale.
To help you hit a grand slam with your next proposal, we’ve put together our best tips and templates to write a killer sales proposal.
What is a Sales Proposal?
First things first, let’s start with basics and make it clear what “sales proposal” means and why you need to write one.
A sales proposal is a document that a business uses to pitch their products or services to potential customers.
In the proposal you, as a seller, show how your product matches the needs of your prospect and lays out the key benefits.
Why is writing a winning sales proposal important? 🤔
- It proves that you deeply understand your potential buyer’s needs, based on their request for proposal (RFP).
- It convinces your prospect that you’re the best solution for them. A great proposal links the challenges your prospect faces with the benefits of your offer. As a result, your prospect is already imagining their carefree future, with your product having successfully solved their pain points.
- It inspires them to take action. A sales proposal gives your prospect the confidence in having all they need to make their decision.
I see you’re hungry, so let’s proceed with this simple recipe to close more deals with an awesome sales proposal. 🔥
1 — Start with the filling of your pie: the executive summary
An appealing executive summary is the essential basis of your sales proposal that attracts your prospect. Treat it like a personalized cover letter, enticing them to take a bite. A few points to consider:
- Always start with a Why (we can’t argue with Simon Sinek’s words). Clarify why a prospect needs to buy your product, address their challenges, and prove that your product helps them get rid of their headaches and achieve their KPIs.
- Use the prospect’s own words. People like to hear or read about themselves. Mention their name, department, company, and use exact words that they have used to describe their unique needs, pains and goals. This way you make them feel respected and valued, whilst building trust.
- Focus on the outcomes and results that your prospect can achieve using your product.
- It should convey a feeling that you are the expert and there is no one else who knows a solution better than you do.
2 — Add the secret ingredient: unique selling proposition
Before you can begin to sell your product or service to anyone else, you have to sell it to yourself. A unique selling proposition (USP) is that one, special feature that separates your company from the competition. Unless you can pinpoint what makes your business unique in a world of homogeneous competitors, you cannot target your sales efforts successfully.
Let’s take Domino's Pizza as an example. Though their slogan is too long to be catchy, it still guarantees clarity in timings.
You get fresh, hot pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less or it’s free.
Everyone values their own time, so customers choose their favourite pizza from Domino's. They can get quality pizza in a short time, guaranteed.
A strong USP is the winning way to infuse your potential customer with confidence.
3 — Knead the dough: offer your solution that does solve their problem
The dough is the basics. It’s your solution. One of the biggest mistakes salespeople make is focusing too much on the product or service’s deliverables, rather than the prospect’s problem.
Remember: selling isn’t about you. It’s about them.
In your proposal, emphasize your understanding of the problems they face and then demonstrate how your solution is the best way to address those problems. This is much more compelling to a prospective buyer than a laundry list of features and benefits.
If you don’t take the extra step to connect those benefits to the client and their specific pain points, you are forcing them to do the work of figuring out how your solution will serve them. Your prospects don’t want to fill in the blanks by themselves - they want a ready solution that fits exactly them. So, you need to work on making your sales proposal customized.
4 — Provide several options. Salt? Pepper? Maybe something a little bit spicier?
By not providing various options, you risk leaving money on the table. For best results, propose three solutions at different price levels. By giving your prospective client multiple options within one proposal, they are less likely to shop around with your competitors. This sets you up as your own competition. The proven fact is that giving them a comparison between solutions at different tiers often leads to closing deals at a more premium price.
By weighing each solution at various price points, the prospect can better gauge the value of the solutions you’re offering and feel more confident in the one they choose.
Pro tip: By starting with your most expensive option and working your way down, you avoid escalating an adverse reaction when the lowest prices on your solutions might seem really low. On the other hand, if you start low and work your way up to your highest priced solutions, your prospect may feel more defensive. This psychological strategy can help you to choose the right way for you to create positive reactions to your proposal.
5 — Make others salivate at the sight of your pie
This might be obvious if you really were serving a pie, unless you are selling a solution. No doubts, visuals stick in our heads. The brain processes images 60,000 times faster than text. Use this to your advantage while crafting your sales proposal. Not only do visuals break up the monotony of a text-heavy proposal document, but they can communicate information faster and more effectively at the same time.
- Include relevant visuals such as graphs, flowcharts, or tables to present data and break down complex ideas. These visuals might include current and future state diagrams, a project roadmap, or illustrations on how a solution will be implemented.
- Since business proposals are often read on mobile devices, ensure easy readability on both mobile and desktop.
- Each section should have a clear title or headline to make it easy for your prospect to skim through the pages to find information. Consistency is key.
- Bear in mind that any visuals you use should look professional and on brand. Coordinate color schemes, fonts, and graphics, so your overall proposal is easy-to-read and nice-to-look-at.
6 — Feedback says more about how yummy your pie is
They say reference marketing is the most effective marketing; we can’t argue with this. Even if your prospects have already made up their mind, they will still want to have that extra reassurance that they’ve made a solid investment.
Examples of how your solution applies to real-life scenarios can be the most powerful persuasion for new clients. Include endorsements from clients you’ve helped successfully, and highlight testimonials from clients in a similar industry or with similar business challenges. Keep in mind that one exceptional testimonial is more powerful and impactful than three not-so-exceptional ones.
Here are some of the elements you should include in your testimonial:
- Customer name, company name and industry;
- Customer title;
- Direct quote from the customer;
- Short description of the solution;
- Results and timeline, before and after data, ROI numbers.
And that’s it! Your pie is ready to be served.
Did you like this recipe? Share in the comments below your own tips on how to write a killer sales proposal. Actually, your feedback is a lot like pie… it makes us happy! 😀
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