0035 – How to Write a Killer Sales Proposal

“In this episode…”

We’re discussing sales proposals. How do you create a proposal that will knock the socks of the decision makes of your choice?

Teaser Bullets

by the end of this episode you’ll learn:

  • Key elements of a winning proposal?
  • Pre-proposal questions
  • Tips for writing a great proposal
  • Top proposal mistakes

Describe the problem

You’re ready to go, you set the meeting, bought the lunch, bantered as wittily as your heart would let you. Then you got the killer line: ‘Why don’t you send us a proposal?” Ugh…bummer. Writing a proposal ranks right up there with tweezer eyelash removal on the excitement scale of some folks, but by the end of this episode, you’ll know how to put your proposals togeher like a pro, and look forward to your next client saying yes.

  • Key elements of a winning proposal?
    • Lauren Licata (Base CRM Blog)https://twitter.com/getbase
      • 4 Steps For Writing A Winning Sales Proposal
        • Focus the proposal on the client

        • After pricing, the client is looking for your business proposal to explain the problem that the client is facing and how you can solve it. Take the time to tell your client why you are qualified for the job, but don’t make your business proposal too much about you — seriously, it’s not about you, it’s about them.  
    • Dan RamseyNetPlaces.com
      • Components of a Successful Sales Proposal
        • Requirements Summary – An important part of your sales document should be a summary of the requirements. You can lift them from the request for information/quotation/ proposal or, for initiated proposals, you can simply summarize the perceived problem.
  • Pre-proposal questions
    • Chris Lang (AG SalesWorks)https://twitter.com/#!/AGSalesworks
      • 5 Questions To Ask Before Sending Out That Sales Proposal
        • Do they believe in your industry? The first question you have to answer is whether or not the prospect buys not into your particular solution, but into the idea of using a solution at all.
        • Do you really know what the prospect needs? Have you taken the time to actually listen to what the prospect needs and then created an action plan that addresses those needs? Furthermore, are you confident that your team can provide exactly what the prospect is expecting?
    • Don Macnamara (http://twitter.com/eyesonsales)Eye on Sales
      • Sales Proposals: The Pre-Proposal Sales Proposal
        • What is the purpose of the proposal?Is it for budgetary purposes? Is it the first, last and only proposal they request of you, or for that matter from any of your competitors? If you are not sure, or if during the course of a long sales process the influencers and decision makers have changed, you had better find out before submitting your proposal.
        • Who will review the proposal? – The reality is, unless they are truly the only decision influencer and decision maker, they probably do not know what it will take to move your offering through their company’s decision tree. They may not even know what the decision tree looks like nor how to climb it.
    • Jennifer Riggins (Quote Roller Blog)http://twitter.com/quoteroller
      • Socrates Teaches Us to Ask the Right Questions for the Right Proposal
        • Frame questions to respond to resistance – Instead of responding to your client’s pains with, “Well, we can fix that easily! We have X number of years of experience in X number of things that will make your life so much better!” Go with something along these lines:
          • If you had someone who could do X for you, would that solve your problem?
          • If X happened, would your company be able to do X?
          • I’m sorry to hear that. What makes you feel that way?
          • I understand that normally Company X provides this service for you. May I ask why? What could make you consider another provider?
    • John Niland (Evan Carmichael.com)https://twitter.com/EvanCarmichael

 

  • Tips for writing a great proposal

  • Ask good questions and take detailed notes in the client meeting
          • It’s all in the preparation. A proposal is only as good as the brief taken in the client meeting. Asking clear questions which get to the heart of the client or prospects issues, priorities or needs is critical. Taking detailed notes is essential.
  • Never talk someone through a proposal
        • Communications expert Brett Rutledge says you should NEVER present your proposal to a client or prospect. The reason being is that you create a cognitive overload for the person(s) concerned. Looking at the proposal (visual processing) and at the same having to listen to you speaking (auditory processing) doesn’t work and only leads to people being distracted and confused.   
    • AZ Central.com – Tim Plaehn –
      • Key Elements of a Sales Proposal
        • Price and Terms – Selling by proposal gives you the advantage of setting a firm price for your product or service. A business typically sells high value items by proposal, so do not be embarrassed by your price — make the price easy to find on the first or second page. Your customer probably has a ballpark amount in mind and if you are close, you are closer to a deal. If you are too high — in your customer’s mind — the customer’s pricing assumption may be incorrect. The terms portion of this element show the customer other ways to buy your product, which may make it easier to handle the total price.
  • Top proposal mistakes
    • Mimiran Blog
      • 6 Killer Sales Proposal Mistakes
        • Vagueness – Your proposal should spell out who needs to do what, and when. Almost every proposal should have a timeline so the customer knows what to expect as the project progresses. You may not know enough to spell out every date and milestone in detail, but be as specific as you can. If you can’t give a date, give a range, and tell the customer what influences the estimate
        • Not Asking for What You Want – Small business owners are the worst offenders here. Most sales reps have enough constraints that they have to ask for certain things, whether they really want them or not. Don’t ask for what you think the customer wants you to want. Ask for what you want.
    • Less Accounting Blog – Allan Branch
      • 3 Common Business Proposal Mistakes
        • Simple misspellings & poor grammarAt the very least, have a co-worker read over your proposal so simple mistakes are caught. If you are a freelancer or don’t have co-workers, then hire a freelance editor to give your proposals a good look. If your proposals are high dollar $50,000+ you might hire a local writer to proof read them.

If you have any comments or questions, or just want to tell me that my face looks funny, you can do so in real time by sending a message on Twitter to @ideatoopen, or you can shoot me an email at info@ideatoopen.com.

In Closing

In closing, on behalf of myself, Elijah R. Young, and everyone involved in bringing this show to your ears, we hope you can move your idea one step closer to being open.

We’ll talk soon.

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