The majority of sales proposals fail because they’re focused on the seller – not on the customer. Writing a sales proposal that’s based on the customer greatly increases the seller’s chance of success. Here’s how to do it.
Do it with style
Writing a successful proposal requires a sound understanding of the customer. What you’re trying to do is to point out that your product/service is the one that best fits in with their needs, so your proposal should read like the description of a strong and successful partnership between the two enterprises.
Clarity is essential. Customers don’t want to read a lot of hype or jargon. Put yourself in the customer’s position and ask what they’d really need to know so as to be able to say “Yes, that’s exactly what we are looking for”. They don’t want to know everything about you; just so much as it takes to reassure them and to differentiate your offering from others.
Be as concise as possible. However, even if your two businesses have had previous interaction, don’t assume that the customer knows everything about you. The decision maker could be someone whom you’ve never met.
The proposal format should resemble the style of documentation the customer uses for their own materials. A document that incorporates the customer’s typeface and corporate colours is much more likely to be perceived as ‘familiar’ and therefore more satisfactory.
Answer the buyer’s most important questions
The proposal has to anticipate the questions the customer might want answers to while they’re deliberating over which proposal delivers the greatest package of benefits. Customise the proposal using in-depth knowledge at every possible point.
· What do you know about them and their specific needs?
· How does your product/service meet those needs?
· What exactly does your product do and how does it work?
· Who else has bought from you? What have they said?
· What sort of customer service will you give them if they buy?
· How much is this going to cost them?
Outline for a winning sales proposal
Start with an attention grabbing title that demonstrates your understanding of the final result the customer is looking for - Communications support for the global expansion of XYZ Company is an example. Follow with enough customer information to show you’ve done your homework and know something about their business and then position your company as a partner in achieving their goals.
Include a brief statement of your company’s position and references from other satisfied customers. It would be especially helpful if you could show previous success in a situation similar to the one faced by your prospect.
The next step is a ‘call to action’. What is it the customer has to do to conclude the transaction? Include a timetable for implementation that shows when each step of the sale will take place if they accept your proposal.
Closing the deal
In most cases the proposal itself won’t close the sale. It’s there as a tool in the selling process but the sale still has to be completed by a salesperson. Be helpful and attentive to the customer throughout the process and offer to provide any assistance they might require in helping them make their decision.
Following up after the proposal has been submitted is essential. Never forget the value of personal interaction and even if the first proposal doesn’t succeed, you’ve made a number of valuable contacts for the next time.