So, with that in mind, I thought I'd put together a guide that will hopefully help you create a winning sales proposal. By following the information below, you should be able to create a basic template that you can adapt for specific prospects.
I think it's very important to structure the proposal exactly as outlined - it has a natural flow and ensures that the proposal ends on a high note, as you will see below.
First, Focus On Your Prospect And Their Problem, Not Yourself
To my mind anyway, one of the biggest mistakes you can make when creating your proposal is to start of focusing on how great you are.
However, your prospect really isn't interested in spending their time reading through a document that just sounds like you're high-fiving yourself.
Instead, focus on them - paying particular attention to the following:
- Who they are/what they do
- Who they serve/what their position in the marketplace is
- What they're current problem is
- What this problem results in/what will happen if it's left unchecked
Although it might seem obvious, you really need to start with this kind of information. It shows from the get-go that you understand your prospect and their problems, and it suggests that you'll be a trustworthy partner going forward.
Then, Explain How You Can Solve This Problem
Now, it's time to address exactly how you can solve this problem for your prospective customer. Be as granular as you can here, although don't give the whole game away. The last thing you want to do is turn your sales proposal into a detailed how-to that can be taken to a cheaper provider to replicate.
Here is a good place to talk a bit about yourself and your expertise. For example, you could include the following here:
- An example of a similar project where you have succeeded previously (keep it to the point though)
- A reference/testimonial from a current customer
- Any qualifications/memberships that help you succeed in this area
Next, Explain The Level Of Investment Required
The next thing you have to do is to tell your prospect how much your product or service is going to cost them. It's worth spending a bit of time thinking about this so that it doesn't come across as a deal-breaker. For example, here are a few things you could include in this section to make it a bit easier to swallow:
- If it's a large lump sum, break it down into an equivalent monthly cost. Equivalent to £150 per month over 10 months sounds a lot better than £1500
- Provide a cast iron guarantee
- Include a discount, showing both the pre-discount figure, the discounted figure as well as the percentage saving rate
Also, it's a very good idea to break the cost down so that your prospect can see what they are paying for. For example, if your package includes set-up, delivery, on-going support etc, provide the costs of each so that it looks more reasonable.
Finally, Show The ROI And Explain The Benefits
Right after explaining the costs, you'll want to finish off by showing the projected ROI and associated benefits of your product or service. I think it's crucial to do this after the costing - it helps to 'soften the blow' and makes sure that the proposal ends on a high note.
Be as specific as you can here - including overall ROI percentages, clearly defined benefits as well as a customer case study (short and to the point) and/or testimonials. Again, this helps to reassure your prospective customer that the costs mentioned previously are worth it.
By following the outline above, you'll ensure that your sales proposal:
- Is relevant and interesting to the recipient
- Shows that you understand your prospect, their problems and how you can solve them
- Tackles key areas
- Provides reassurances
- Flows naturally and ends on a high
Also, just a quick note on document length - this will depend on the industry you work in, the 'norms' for that industry and what you have to say. However, I'd say that a general rule of thumb - for one small business pitching to another small business - is that a sales proposal should be 2-3 pages and no more. You want to keep it to the point, ensuring it doesn't bore your prospect.
If your proposal goes well, you might find that you are invited to a face to face sales presentation - you can read more about how to tackle that here.
Thanks for reading,
By Alan MacDougall
Got a nagging marketing question? Ask me here.
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Revenue Builder is a small business marketing strategy advice blog, written to help small business owners and startups maximise sales revenue.