The sales proposal you send your client is perhaps one of the only tangible references to your compelling sales pitch. Therefore you need to make it personalised and easy to understand.
Often, sending over a simple one-page quote with a summary of work and the price is perfectly adequate. This is usually the standard approach for existing clients who are familiar with you and your solution. However, for new clients who may compare you to other services, this won’t help you stand out – and a well-written email summary with an attached price is NOT the answer.
Remember, your sales proposal may sit on your prospective client’s desk for a few days or weeks – or they may have to share it with colleagues who aren’t as familiar with your pitch. Therefore, your sales proposal needs to be memorable and convincing.
Here are five simple tips to help you structure and write an effective, memorable sales proposal:
1. Keep your sales proposal brief
The key here is to balance helpful information with backstory and evidence. Ultimately, people are busy, and we all have shorter attention spans than we used to. You need to keep your proposal short and to the point.
While there is no set number of pages in a proposal, keep the information essential. The key is making every word count, breaking down content into easily digestible sections/chapters, and including quotes rather than complete case studies (these can be included in appendices or as links to your website).
2. Focus on the client and value
One of the most common mistakes businesses make when writing a sales proposal is making the proposal all about them, not the client
Your proposal should outline your understanding of the problem and how your solution is the best way to overcome challenges and add value to their business. You don’t need a comprehensive backstory about your company. Instead, weave your history and experience into the solution.
While it might be necessary to provide technical detail, try and keep these technicalities relavant to solving a problem or adding value. A laundry list of features may be required for a quick side-by-side comparison with competitors, but you should always be sure to connect features with benefits.
Top tip: When you outline a solution or reference a product’s capabilities, ask yourself: “So what?”. If your following sentence doesn’t outline how the client will benefit, it may not be relevant.
3. Give them pricing options
Traditionally, most proposals only offered one solution. However, you could miss out on a higher sale if you didn’t outline all the available options.
Providing multiple options at different pricing levels can make prospects feel they are getting the best value for money as they have more information and context when making their decision. In addition, with multiple options within one proposal, prospective clients are less likely to shop around at your competitors. This effectively sets you up as your own competition, creating a win-win scenario for you.
Typically, the rule of three works best for pricing. Think Gold, Silver and Bronze, or Enterprise, Business and Startup. In our experience, most people will settle on the middle option.
Finally, don’t forget to add timescales. Make sure you answer the following questions: how long will it take? And when can you start?
Top tip: Consider putting together a simple Gantt chart within the proposal. You can use the number of days/weeks/months instead of actual dates if you want to keep things open. This can help give the client a sense of urgency.
4. Don’t forget the design of your sales proposal
This document is perhaps one of the only tangible sales documents you’ll send your customer. Therefore, this document needs to looks great.
Humans are visual beings. Not only do visual elements such as graphs, flowcharts, or tables help break up large blocks of text, but they also help communicate complex theory simply.
While professionally designed documents can help you stand out, you don’t need to spend hours on the design. Using a simple Microsoft Word or a free Google Doc template can help structure the layout of your proposal can also work.
A fancy document with terrible content can lose a sale just as quickly as an excellent proposal presented poorly.
Top tip: Visuals should look professional and on brand. Coordinate your colour schemes, fonts, and graphics. This will help ensure your business appears capable and credible.
5. Create a flexible, personalised template
Creating a template will help save you, and your team, time when writing your proposals. They will also ensure your proposals stay consitant and on brand. Making them flexible is vital to ensuring you keep them personalised and not a copy and paste job.
For example, you can create templated sentences that help summarise your solution to the client:
This proposal is for [client] who [client needs]. [Your company name] provides [main benefit that differentiates your offering from competitors]. When [target client groups] partner with [your company name] we’re able to achieve goals like [example #1], [example #2], and [example #3].
The more tailored and personalised your proposal, the more effective and persuasive it will be.
Bonus tip: Always include a call to action
Always end your proposal with a call to action. What does the client need to do if they want to progress with things?
How ETC can help
If you need help writing winning sales proposals, please get in touch.
If you are new to ETC, why not contact us for a free new business review? We’ll spend two hours with you, giving you professional coaching and will leave you with actions for immediate implementation.