Writing Winning Proposals

It is sometimes appropriate to provide your prospect with a proposal. If this is the case, a well-done proposal can make closing the sale a lot easier.

Some salespeople and companies expect their proposal to do the selling. This is a mistake. A proposal is the natural conclusion of a well-thought-out and well-executed sales process. It is a confirmation of things discussed, not a primary selling tool.

There are companies whose primary method of getting new business is to respond to requests for proposals. This reactive approach to selling generally only works if you are intent on being a low-cost service provider and has a low chance of long-term success.

Premature Proposals

Some prospects have no intention of buying and, in an attempt to get rid of a salesperson, will ask for a proposal or price list. You can avoid falling into this trap by making sure you have properly qualified your prospect and only provide a proposal after you’ve collected all the information needed to put together a winning proposal. 

Purpose of the Proposal

A proposal serves three primary purposes:

1.    To confirm what was discussed during the course of the selling activities.

2.   To explain what you are offering and outline the terms and conditions of the sale.

3.   It is your last opportunity to sell the value of your product/services and yourself to the prospect.

This last point shouldn’t be taken too lightly as your proposal may end up being reviewed by someone, often the final decision-maker, who was previously unavailable or inaccessible during your initial sales presentations. This person may be seeing your information for the first time, and your ability to create a good impression is critical.

Because someone may be seeing your proposal for the first time, it is important that it be complete. There should be no unanswered questions or unexplained terms and conditions, etc.

No Surprises

It’s important that your proposal contains no new information and no surprises for your prospect. The proposal should capture the essence of your discussions with the prospect, your understanding of their situation, and confirmation of your proposed solution or offering.

It is appropriate to include supporting collateral material even if the material hasn’t been previously seen by the prospect, providing it doesn’t provide new information that may cause the prospect to reopen the sales process.

Remember, quotes show price, proposals show value.

For more information on this topic, please refer to The Right Skills.

Salesforce Training & Consulting is a professional sales training firm and registered Salesforce.com Consulting Partner based in Toronto, with offices in Boston and Chicago, providing sales coaching, sales management consulting, salesforce implementation, sales training and sales personnel assessments.

by   Mark Christie