By Doug Dvorak
Every sales proposal represents an opportunity to grow your business. After spending years in business and sales, I have seen how the ability to put together a well-crafted proposal is crucial to achieving advancement for yourself and your business. Here are key elements to include:
Let your audience know what to expect. People generally don’t like surprises, so a brief overview of your key points is a good start. Remember KISS: Keep It Simple Stupid. It is your job to make it easy for the person reading the proposal to understand it. Don’t put them to the test of doing the work for you; they won’t.
Include persuasive elements. The purpose of a proposal is to persuade your prospect to buy your product or service, to persuade them that your product or service is something they will benefit from and is something they should not live without. Develop materials that support your final objective of getting them to buy your product/service—include statistics, testimonials, references, or quotes.
Recognize customer needs. A winning proposal will overwhelmingly serve the customer. Whenever you write a proposal, ask yourself: What audience will be reading my proposal and who is the decision maker? What is important to my customer? What are the best ways to address the issues and present my solutions? Your proposal’s message and benefits should be orientated to the audience, company and industry it addresses.
Tailor your proposal. Now that you know your customer, make sure your proposal is tailored directly to that unique customer and their unique business goals. Also, always address your proposal to the correct individual(s). People love hearing/reading their names and it makes the experience that more personal.
Create positive perceptions. Proposals that create positive perceptions of the product, service, and brand drive results. You have the unique ability to design your proposal for each customer to make your solution and company look positive. Taking time to examine competitors and demonstrate how your product/service is better can create a positive perception you will want your prospect to think about while making their decision.
Include a call to action. Make sure you specifically ask your prospect what you want them to do. Remind them that they can choose to purchase today or ask if you can move forward with invoicing. Asking your customer (in writing or vocally) personally by name can be the single greatest way to quickly move from prospect to customer. You can say, “Mr. Johnson, after reviewing this proposal would you please provide me with your approval to move forward by signing your name on the indicated areas?”
Review and edit. Your audience is more likely to respond affirmatively to your proposed solution (call to action) if the points you have made steer them in the right direction. Make sure you review your proposal and make any necessary edits so that your proposal includes sufficient reason(s) to take action. Ask yourself: Will the contents of this proposal create the desired action that I am asking for?
By taking into account the above elements before writing your next proposal you have already improved your chances of winning the business!