Ten tips for better sales proposals
Remember your prospect
Donâ€™t get so carried away with what youâ€™re offering that you forget
the person that youâ€™re trying to persuade. Always put the prospect
first, by starting with their situation and the problems they need to
Remember other readers
Are there other influencers and decision-makers who might read your proposal, and have you met them? If you havenâ€™t, your proposal will be all they have to go on, so itâ€™s vital that you address their needs too.
Impress your prospect by showing an understanding of their problems and how to fix them, rather than trying to dazzle them with how wonderful your company is. Your company facts and testimonials should just confirm that you know what youâ€™re talking about.
You still need to sell the solution(s) youâ€™re proposing, so remember to write a persuasive sales argument â€“ donâ€™t just let the spec speak for itself.
Check your facts
Simple mistakes will seriously undermine even the best offering. One senior buyer of billion-pound contracts told Emphasis that he always circled the stupid mistakes first â€“ such as spelling product or place names incorrectly. Factual inaccuracies create a poor impression thatâ€™s very hard to shift.
Get the basics right
Likewise, donâ€™t let your spelling, punctuation or grammar let you down. Basic errors do nothing to create a good impression.
You may be very proud of your proposal, but your prospect probably has several others to read alongside yours. Even if they donâ€™t, theyâ€™ll certainly have a backlog of other documents to read through. In a recent Emphasis survey, some buyers said that 90 per cent of what they read was badly written or hard to follow. So write to â€˜expressâ€™, rather than to â€˜impressâ€™ them with your splendid vocabulary.
Cut and paste with care
Cutting and pasting can be a good short cut if two proposals share common material. But itâ€™s also fraught with danger. One Emphasis client told us of how theyâ€™d forgotten to take out a rival clientâ€™s company name when they did this. It sounds obvious, but itâ€™s easily done. The answer is to get someone else to proofread what youâ€™ve written, as youâ€™ll miss many of your own mistakes. Remember: love is blind.
Take care with layout
No matter how persuasive your argument, presentation is key and a poor layout can still let you down. Keep your layout uncluttered, crisp and professional. Use plenty of white space, and resist the temptation to cram too much information into every page. Less is definitely more.
Talk them through it
Finally, if you want to win, take it in. Make an appointment to talk your prospect through your proposal if at all possible. That way youâ€™ll be able to handle any objections there and then, and maximise your chance of a successful close.