Not every salesperson needs to write sales proposals, but if you’re in a relationship-based sales cycle, there’s a good chance your client expects to see a proposal. And, your entire deal may hinge on this single document! Where do you even start?
If you want to craft the perfect sales proposal, you need to:
- Follow a clear outline.
- Keep it about the client, not you.
- Be specific, not generic.
- Come prepared.
With a little care and attention to detail, you can make sure your sales proposal stands out and will deliver exactly what the client needs to make their decision. Let’s get started!
Follow a clear outline
The purpose of a sales proposal is to communicate the “what, why, when, and how” of the work you’ll do for your client. To be sure you’re including everything the client needs to know, the proposal should follow the outline below. And there’s no shame in getting help—if you’re not good at writing clear and brief statements for any of these points, find someone who can!
1. A summary of their pain
Here, you’re restating why you’re having a proposal meeting—the challenges the client faces, and their unique needs.
If you don’t already know these pain points, you shouldn’t be proposing anything! Have a discovery meeting first!
2. Your solution for solving their pain
Only provide the specific solutions that will solve your client’s pain! If they’re only evaluating three of your services, don’t throw in a generic list of six or seven other solutions that they don’t need. If a new pain point arises later, you can tell them then.
How long is the engagement? When does it begin? Don’t use vague timeframes like “once signed” or “upon approval”—use specific, real dates. This makes it real for the client and prevents any guesswork.
How much? When is payment due? Are there options for a monthly term or a lump sum? These need to be specific numbers. Ideally, you’ll present several payment options, so the client has some flexibility. Don’t forget to include how payments can be made—ACH, credit, check, etc.—and clearly state due dates. If your company has a preferred method, be sure to mention it.
5. Next Steps
What are the specific actions that need to take place after this meeting? In order to launch, your company may need to perform an assessment or backend evaluation. The ‘next steps’ section makes sure the client knows your project needs more than a signature—and lets them know what else your company needs to get started.
6. Why you?
If you feel like it’s needed, this section explains your qualifications to do the proposed work. Note that this section is at the bottom, not the top! A short paragraph or a few certification icons is enough.
Keep it about the client
Your sales proposal is not about you! It’s about what you can do for the client and how it will get done. If you want to have a “brag book,” that’s fine, but it needs to be a separate document. Keep it out of the proposal!
If you’re at the proposal stage, you’ve already made your case for how great your company or product is. To make their final decision, your client wants to know the details of your solution, how it fits their needs, and how it will be implemented.
The worst thing you can do is use a generic sales proposal template that “covers all the bases.” It’s okay to start with a template, but it must be adjusted to fit every individual client.
If you’re not specific or include pointless information, it will work against you. If your sales proposal mentions services that the client doesn’t need, how can they trust that you understand their challenges?
Vague terms and placeholders don’t inspire confidence. If you want your client to sign, your sales proposal needs clear, correct, and complete information.
When it’s time to present your proposal, here’s a bonus tip—unless you’re great at reading upside down, be sure to have a copy for yourself! You always want your client to have the proposal in front of them.
Another tip: It’s not uncommon for an additional person to show up to your proposal meeting—and they’ll need a copy, too! You never know when a client will bring in their CEO or CFO to sit in. Always have extra copies, and if you run out, give up your copy.
Go sell some stuff!
I hope you feel a little better about writing that sales proposal now. Remember to be specific, keep the focus on your client, and come prepared!
Until next time—go sell some stuff!