If you’re deep into a sales process and seeking feedback from a prospect, any sentence with the word “unfortunately” in it generally doesn’t bode well. “Unfortunately, you weren’t selected.” Or, just as bad: “You were our number one choice, but unfortunately the project budget was cut.”
There is another sentence that fills salespeople with a sense of foreboding: “Please send me a sales proposal.” Or, even worse: “You’re invited to respond to our RFP.”
Why is this? It’s not as if creating a sales proposal is an unusual step. Most sales processes have a “proposing” stage. Surely being asked for a proposal is a positive sign—a buying signal.
There is quite a disconnect happening for sales teams when it comes to prioritizing sales proposals. Which is precisely why we’re here today to show you why that sales proposal matters and should not be ignored.
A sales proposal is not this
A sales proposal serves a very specific function within your sales process. But, let’s start with what it is not.
A sales proposal is not just a price quote. It’s not a marketing slick, a bill of materials, or a statement of work. If all the client has to work with is a price quote, the only information available to compare you with the competition is the cost. That’s a distinct disadvantage if you’re not one of the lower-cost options.
“Even if you’re seeing a ten percent conversion with sales proposals, depending on the cost that goes into creating those, it could be a far more efficient funnel than traditional outbound/inbound demand generation.” – Matt Heinz
Here’s what a sales proposal is
A sales proposal is a selling document designed to move the sales process forward—plain and simple. It should reinforce the work you’ve done throughout the sale process by:
- Succinctly articulating your understanding of the client’s needs.
- Outlining measurable business outcomes.
- Recommending specific solutions.
- Showing demonstrable ROI.
- Calling out your relevant experience and differentiation.
It’s likely this proposal will be circulated far and wide within your potential client’s organization. For many stakeholders, this document will be their first interaction with your company. And we all know the importance of first impressions.
Making a good impression with your sales proposal
The goal of your sales proposal is to paint a clear picture of why your prospect should choose to work with you. Help them understand why you are uniquely positioned to address their needs more efficiently or effectively.
To create an impressive sales proposal, your document should be…
- Concise – Your sales proposal doesn’t need to be long. Around 4-5 pages will often suffice to get your point across.
- Simple – A proposal is a selling document, not a technical document. It doesn’t need to be complex.
- Persuasive – Persuasive writing is a skill. Use the right tone of voice, avoid jargon or buzzwords, and focus on underlying business drivers.
- Personalized – Use the client’s name in a 3:1 ratio versus your organization’s name. The client should feel that this proposal is written for them, not you.
- Accuracy – If you are repurposing content from previous proposals, the quality of information quickly degrades. Leave plenty of time for reviewing and polishing.
- Visual – Break up the content by making good use of white space with graphics. Adhere to your marketing guidelines for brand consistency.
- Attractive – With sales proposals, appearance matters. Take the time to format your document into a presentable deliverable.
Make it look easy with proposal automation software
Why then it is so hard for sales teams to produce a good sales proposal? Because you have to work hard to make it look easy.
Writing something compelling from scratch is daunting and takes people out of their comfort zone. Instead, many will resort to copying and pasting from their last proposal. But quality and personalization will suffer. This is where proposal automation software plays a key part.
An RFP software or response management platform like RFPIO offers the ability to create and maintain a library of persuasively-written, formatted, up-to-date, and approved content. From which (often initiated from within the CRM application), sales teams can generate highly personalized sales proposals.
Using technology to automate your sales proposals allows you to make client-specific content selections to ensure only the relevant issues, outcomes, products, and value-drivers are incorporated. In other words, you quickly develop sales proposals that pack a punch.
You don’t need to become a Pulitzer-winning author or an expert in desktop publishing to impress prospects with your sales proposals. By allowing technology to do the heavy-lifting for you, you’ll “make it look easy” because this process is, in fact, easier with proposal automation software.
See for yourself. Happy to show you around RFPIO…schedule your demo here.