I have been asked this question a lot lately. Over the years I have seen hundreds of proposals. Some have been very poorly written proposals that instantly turn a buyer off, others were really well structured proposals that help make the buying decision easier. In many cases, the poorly written proposals on the surface looked amazing – they were well branded, had pictures and diagrams etc however, they were all about the seller. On the other hand, the ones that helped the buyer often had little to no information about the seller, but focused on the needs of the buyer and simply articulated how the proposed solution would resolve the buyer’s issue and what the return on investment would be.
So with that in mind, here are a few things to consider next time you are writing a proposal for your buyer.
1. Ask yourself – Do I need to write one?
If you can close the sale, then close it don’t draw it out. Too often we resort to “I will send you a quote/proposal” because our sales conversation has no structure, so we are not sure what to do next. Our sales interview should lead your buyer on a journey to discovery, that will lead to a clear next step and hopefully if the need is there, a sale.
If you have got the buying signals, but need to provide a proposal as part of your next step, then consider the following:
2. The sooner I write and deliver it, the sooner I can close the deal!
Time is valuable so you don’t want to be having to re-write your proposal each time from scratch! This wastes a lot of your selling time, and delays it getting to your prospect. As the seller, we often have the bones of our solution already known, so why not have it in a template that is quick and easy to edit and is ready to send as soon as possible after visiting our client?
3. How will I deliver this?
The best way to deliver it is in person. However, this is not always feasible, so a good practise I use is to send out a Proposal using an online system that allows me to track if it has been opened, read etc. and make sure I have booked the next meeting before I have sent the proposal to review it in person.
Just sending it as an email or in the post, anything can happen, it could go to spam and never get opened, the postman could get attacked by the dog, at least using an online system, you know when the email was received, opened and in some cases how long it was read for.
Remember our job is to keep control of your sale. When we send our proposal, include in it a day and time that you will either (preferably) visit or (at the least) call them.
4. Follow it up
One of the top 3 reasons a sale is lost is we did not follow up. Again, we get busy, perhaps we are to shy, or we don’t want a NO, but If we have sent the proposal, now we need to close the deal. If we have answered all the questions, provided the rationale behind the solution and connected the emotion, built the trust, ASK FOR THE SALE. Meet in person or on the phone, but make sure you meet/call them when you said you would in your proposal.
5. Finally, how to structure it
It’s about our customer (not us). Identify their key problem or challenges
The implications of the problem (in dollar terms)
The solution you are proposing and investment
Show how they will get a return on their investment
Finish it with a key question: If this solution is applied, how will this affect your cash-flow over the next 12 months?
Confirm the next steps.
You don’t need to put pages and pages of information about the kindy you attended and how many cats you pulled from a fire. They already know how good you are. Keep it simple, well presented and customer focused.
If you are looking for a good proposal writing system, there are many available online, we chose Proposify for a few reasons:
It is visible – It provides real time metrics – when it was opened, how long each part is read etc
You can set up templates – Fast delivery following meetings and only needing to add the pre-written sections applicable
Clients can approve/sign online without needing to print out docs etc. and yes it is just as binding as signing on paper. – More convenient
It integrates to Xero and many other CRM’s – Less admin, better reporting!
Sales Consultant, Trainer & Coach