You’ve been working hard to get your sales proposal just right. You want it to present a future in which your prospect has overcome hurdles and solved their problem, where your product or solution is what makes that future a reality.
But even if you have the perfect solution for them, there are pitfalls in writing a good proposal that will lose you the sale if fallen into it.
A good sales proposal is your armor against the odds in the sales process. It’s your chance to shine when you are in competition with other products and services, but it also needs to be perfect in order to get your prospect on board.
What is a sales proposal?
A sales proposal is a formal offer to sell goods or services, typically made in written form. Proposals are used when one needs to make an argument for why they should be the company chosen to do the work required by the customer/prospect.
It is a document that you provide to clients which contains all the information they need about your product or service including price, quality, and terms of payment.
When should you use it?
The sales proposal is usually required when an organization wants to buy services or products from another company. It’s worth noting that not every business requires a formal written statement for every transaction.
How do you write a good one?
A sales proposal is used to convince the reader that your business provides them with everything they need for their project or product, and therefore should be chosen over any other company offering similar services.
It’s important when writing it that you consider who will be reading it and what they are looking for.
1. Know your client needs
Before you do anything, ask your clients about the actual reasons they need your services. The real reason why someone wants a product or service could be vastly different from what they initially tell you in their request or proposal.
For example, someone who needs SEO may just need to improve their website's loading speed but not build an entire site from scratch.
By asking what they really need, you can determine whether or not your company has the ability to provide them with those services and if so put together a proposal that caters specifically to their needs rather than just throwing something at them because it seems like everything else out there.
2. Be honest about limitations
Before drafting any sales proposals, make sure you understand where your company stands in relation to those of your competitors.
Understanding what type of business they are, how long it has been around, and for whom do they work can help with understanding the information being requested by them so that you write a proposal catered specifically to their needs rather than just throwing something at them because it seems like everything else out there.
3. Learn about Competitors
When writing a proposal, it’s important to be aware of the other companies providing similar services so as not to fall victim to unfair pricing or practices whether it's on their part or on yours.
It is also absolutely critical that you do your research into what you are offering and how it compares to the other companies in your field before putting together a proposal.
Sometimes, knowing what your competitors are doing is the only way to know how you can stand out from them.
4. Detailed Specification
It is key to include all the information that will give your client a crystal clear picture of what you are offering them. The more details, the better as it's important not to just provide generalizations without factual data which can lead to misunderstandings and an unsatisfied customer or prospect.
If there are any specific numbers or facts about your product or service, include them! You might think that they are common knowledge to your client but without any actual information about these things, it's likely you won’t be chosen.
5. Time Scale
Understanding the time scale of your proposal is key to ensuring you don't miss any deadlines or fall behind schedule on what you are providing.
You need to know exactly how long everything will take, and be able to answer questions about it before putting together a plan for your customer/prospect.
If there'll be any limitations on when they can start or finish, make sure to include them in your proposal so they don't find out later on and lose faith.
Transparency is key when it comes to any criticism of your business. If you can prove that you are reliable then there's no need for anyone else to worry about the quality of work you will produce.
6. Offer Options
Soliciting the right type of information from your client is crucial to putting together a good proposal.
By asking them what their needs are and why they need it, you'll be able to give them exactly what they want without wasting time or resources on something that isn't going to work for either party involved.
For example, if someone wants SEO but all they really need is better website loading speed, you can save time and money by putting together a proposal tailored to their needs rather than one that will be completely unsuitable for them.
If there are any limitations on your services or the timeframe of completion make sure to include these in your proposal so that they know exactly what's involved before they agree to work with you.
7. Include Unique Selling Proposition
The more you can do to prove how your product or service is different from that of other companies, the better chance you have at turning a prospect into a customer. If there are any key features that make it stand out in comparison with similar products/services then be sure to include them.
As long as the information requested of your client is relevant and necessary, there's no reason not to keep it all in one convenient location.
Whether you are soliciting or unsolicited make sure that you include all the details about what makes your business unique so that they know exactly what they're getting into before moving forward.
8. Market Analysis
To make your sales proposal stand out from the competition, you'll need to include well-researched market analysis.
This should tell them everything they'd want to know about their prospect’s industry whether it is specific information about other companies in similar fields or general facts that might affect how you do business with them (for example, if there are likely to be any regulations).
Include a market analysis with your proposal so that you can give the client all of the information they need about their industry and how it might affect what you're offering them.
This will make it easier for them to identify whether or not working with you is going to meet their needs/goals.
9. Showcase your previous endeavors
If you already have a list of clients that you've worked with within the past, make sure to include them in your proposal!
Knowing exactly who has been using your services before will show future prospects/customers that there are existing relationships between you and other companies this could be invaluable if they're looking for references.
Including previous clients in your proposal will show future prospects/customers that there are existing relationships between you and other companies. This can be invaluable if they're looking for references!
How to structure your proposal?
Once you have gathered all the necessary information, it’s time to structure your proposals. Some companies prefer one format over another for specific reasons so make sure that if they request a certain type of proposal or format that you stick to their preference.
A well-written proposal begins with an introduction to the client, your company, and what is being offered.
Customers want reassurance about who they are dealing with so make sure you introduce yourself, your team members, and any other people on their end that will be involved in the project.
2. Discussion of requirements
Once introductions have been made it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty and discuss what you will be offering.
Customers want reassurance about who they are dealing with so make sure your proposal is accurate and detailed without too much fluff or unnecessary information.
The methodology section should outline how you plan on achieving the objectives that have been set by either side in a project. This should be brief but specific to the project, detailing how you will achieve each milestone.
The final part of your proposal is usually where you detail exactly what benefits they are receiving for their money and a price breakdown.
Customers want reassurance about who they are dealing with so make sure that if there is any potential for confusion or misunderstanding that you explain it to them.
Remember, this is your chance to stand out from the crowd so make sure you use this opportunity wisely!
A Sales Proposal can be the difference between success and failure in securing a new client. Don’t let your proposal be another form letter, make sure you personalize it to show that this is relevant and necessary, there's no reason not to keep it all in one convenient location.
Make it personal by adding in your own style or flair! Don’t let another form letter be the difference between success and failure in securing a new client, make sure you personalize it to show that this is relevant and necessary.