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6 Keys to Writing Winning Proposals

 

Too often, sellers make the common proposal mistake of sending a proposal too early in the sales process.

It’s understandable. They secure the meeting, have a conversation, and are anxious to move the deal forward. When this happens, sellers skip over important questions just to get to the proposal stage.

If this is you, pump the breaks.

You should only send a proposal after you’ve discussed and agreed to the buyer’s needs, explained your solution, and detailed what it’s going to take in regard to time, money, resources, and expectations for what can be achieved, and so on.

A proposal isn’t where you present your solution and the investment for the first time. It isn’t where you introduce a new offering that wasn’t previously discussed. A proposal is a summary of what you and a potential buyer have already agreed upon.

Once you’ve covered all the major areas and you’re ready to write the proposal, here are six keys to keep in mind.

1. Begin with the customer’s needs and desires.

It’s very powerful to begin with the buyer and their needs. It demonstrates that you “get it,” and it gives the buyer confidence that you’re on the same page.

We begin each of our proposals with a letter titled “Our understanding of your needs.” This shows the buyer that we’ve listened and understood their perspective.

While this sounds basic, many sellers don’t do this.

In fact, in our “What Sales Winners Do Differently” research, we found that “listened to me” and “understood my needs” are two of the top-five factors most separating sales winners from second-place finishers.

Next, outline where your buyer wants to go. What does their new reality look like once you’ve addressed each of their needs? A simple bulleted juxtaposition of their current state compared to their desired state can be very helpful.  

2. Outline your solution.

Many buyers understand their challenges and where they want to be, but they don’t know how to get there. This is where you shine.

Your solution is the answer to filling this gap.

Outline your approach in as much or as little detail as the buyer requires. If nothing else, you should explain the steps you’ll take to help them achieve their desired outcomes.

The amount of detail required will be different for each buyer, so consider including additional information in an appendix for analytical and technical buyers who want to know the minutiae.

3. Make the ROI and impact case.

Demonstrate what you expect to achieve. As much as possible, use the buyer’s actual numbers. For example, if you expect to reduce operating costs by 10% at five different manufacturing facilities, show exactly how much that’ll mean in savings.

This means that you’ll need to ask about the operating costs at each of these facilities, so you can calculate the savings prior to writing the proposal.

Be sure to ask these important impact-focused questions in your conversations. Using the buyer’s actual numbers will make your ROI and impact case that much more real.

Here are 21 powerful questions you can use in your sales conversations.

4. Substantiate with case studies, stories, and more.

You’ve shown buyers where they are, where they want to be, and how you’ll get them there. Now you need to substantiate your claims and help the buyer believe that you can achieve what you say you can.

Include relevant customer logos from your buyer’s industry, success stories, case studies, awards your company has won, testimonials, and references. The more you can demonstrate how you’ve helped others achieve similar results, the less risk the buyer will feel in choosing you.

5. Present price and payment terms.

How to present pricing is a topic all on its own. For the purposes of this article, it’s important to include a pricing section in your proposal. Avoid à la carte type pricing of each individual piece of your solution. This often just opens the door for nit-picking the price.

You may take a phased approach, and price accordingly or present different options for solutions. If you do the latter, always include three options and present them in order of: best, better, and good.

6. Include a signature page with terms and conditions.

Always include a place for the buyer to sign. You might think this (or any of this) is basic, but you’d be surprised how often sellers make it hard for buyers to say yes.

It’s also important to outline the terms and conditions.

Once you’ve written the proposal, you’re likely antsy to hit send. Resist that urge. Instead, ask to present your proposal to key decision makers. Whether it’s in-person or on the phone, schedule a meeting to walk the buyer through your proposal.

While it does take some practice to learn how to write a proposal, by attending to each of these six keys you place yourself in the best position to consistently win.

Many buyers understand their challenges and where they want to be, but they don’t know how to get there. This is where you shine.”

Mike Schultz | President, RAIN Group

Learn More

How to Craft the Perfect Sales Pitch By Annie Simms,
Account Executive, Salesforce
The Simple Client Meeting Rules Every Salesperson Should Follow By Laura Stack,
President and CEO, Productivity Keynote Speaker and Author, The Productivity Pro, Inc.
 
 
 

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