Proposals have always played a pivotal role in the sales process, but today they are more important than ever. With in-person meetings on the decline because of the coronavirus pandemic, your sales proposal now serves as the "face" of your company. It should appear just as a sales rep would at an in-person meeting: clean, composed, organized, and smiling.
In Sales and Marketing Management, Jennifer Tomlinson and Olivia Hardy divulge the three most essential tips for crafting an effective sales proposal that speaks right to the prospect's needs and goals:
Too often, companies use sales proposals as a chance to talk about themselves. But at this stage of the sales process, prospects already know who you are and what you offer. At this point, it's important to translate your services into tangible value for the customer. Use facts - not hyperbole - to indicate what sets your company apart from the competition. Use data and real-life examples to indicate why you are the best option in the marketplace.
Don't bog down your prospects with unnecessary information or unsubstantiated claims. Rather, support and facilitate their decision-making by presenting them with relevant information. Follow these three tips when crafting your next sales proposal:
1. Focus on the essentials
Every sales proposal should include several core components, such as:
- Always begin with an executive summary.
- Include a list of clear objectives and quantifiable goals.
- Describe the ROI customers can expect from working with your company.
- Emphasize how your company is committed to supporting its customers over the long haul.
- Introduce the team who will be invested in the client's success.
- Explain each team member's role, and describe his or her professional background and previous project experience.
- Devote a section of your proposal to case studies and client testimonials.
- Highlight success stories of customers who have reaped big results from partnering with your company (use plenty of stats and data whenever possible!).
- Conclude the proposal with sections dedicated to pricing and your terms and conditions.
2. Establish common ground
Sales proposals should be personalized and should reflect that you understand the prospect's business environment. Summarize how your offering will help them achieve their specific goals. If your proposal fits into their thought process, you'll have a far greater chance of getting them to sign on the dotted line.
Do your homework before writing the proposal. Research happenings within the prospect's business and industry. Don't hesitate to ask insiders for advice: if you are fortunate enough to have a champion, leverage that relationship to find out what matters most to the people who will evaluate your proposal. What are their hot-button issues? What are the potential showstoppers? Once you've pinpointed the prospect's top challenges and goals, weave this insight into the opening sections of your sales proposal.
Another useful way of adding a personalized touch is to mimic your prospect's branding by tastefully adopting their color scheme, style, and tone throughout the proposal. By doing so, you will subtly reinforce that your company is the ideal fit for the project and that it shares similar values to their brand.
3. Make it as easy as possible
Most likely, your prospects will evaluate multiple proposals and won't have the time to dive into every single detail you provide. Instead, they will skim your proposal to gather the most important and compelling information. With that in mind, you should aim to make their life as easy as possible.
Your sales proposal should be succinct, and your language should be direct and conversational. Avoid the use of confusing legalese and jargon, as this will cause the prospect's eyes to glaze over. Include callouts and pull quotes to emphasize differentiators and key benefits, and use graphics to illustrate concepts. If you see that a section is becoming too wordy, break it up into smaller sections with subheadings. And, in your table of contents, include links that let the reader easily jump to different sections of the proposal.
Your goal should be to create the most crisp, attractive, and user-friendly proposal of the bunch. If it makes your prospect's life easier, they will assume your product or service will do the same for their company.
There isn't a one-size-fits-all approach to creating an effective sales proposal. However, there are some best practices you can follow to shorten sales cycles and improve win rates. Cut the fluff, do your research, and focus on what matters the most: your customer's needs and goals.
View the original article on Sales and Marketing Management.