Sales proposals: Love them or hate them, they're an integral part of any successful deal. While some salespeople might view these documents as unnecessary -- or even as a waste of time --they're actually one of the most powerful instruments in a salesperson's arsenal of deal-closing tools.
In fact, proposals can make all the difference between losing a sale and closing one. And when done properly, a proposal will not only help close the sale, but it will also make that sale larger than it otherwise would have been. Here are five tips to writing proposals that will do just that:
1. Focus on the prospect's objectives.
Most salespeople write proposals that focus entirely on the deliverables they can offer to the prospect. These documents often concentrate on listing off the basic features and benefits of the product or service in question. But what about the prospect's needs?
Instead of focusing on what you have to offer your prospect, your proposals should focus on the key problems your prospect wants to solve. In particular, the beginning portions of your proposals should address the challenges your prospect wants to overcome. This will effectively turn your proposals into working documents that outline specific client objectives--a powerful tool.
2. Deliverables are not the key.
As I said in the previous tip, most salespeople write proposals that are focused entirely on what they can provide to prospects. This strategy misses the mark on where the value of the sale truly is: Prospects don't pay for deliverables; they pay for outcomes and results.
Use your proposal as a platform to articulate what outcomes and results the prospect will achieve as a result of the deal at hand. You can describe deliverables later on in the proposal, but don't go into too much detail. Focus more on objectives.
3. Keep it short.
The majority of proposals are way too long! We're talking multiple pages. It should come as no surprise that prospects are likely to thumb through these lengthy documents--and miss the important information. The solution to this problem is simple: Keep your proposal between one to two pages long.
By doing so, you'll create a document that prospects are much more likely to read all the way through. Your shortened proposals should be concise and relevant. Only mention areas that are important to the prospect, and don’t throw in your biography or a list of impressive things your company has done. Focus on what's relevant to closing the sale.
4. Give three options.
Most proposals only offer one option or solution. This is a huge missed opportunity. Instead of providing just one option for the prospect to decide upon, provide multiple options for the prospect to choose from. This will accomplish two things. First, you'll be able to offer higher level--read: more expensive--options in your proposals. This can frequently lead to prospects choosing higher level deals than you had originally expected.
Second, you'll create a sense of optionality for the prospect, which will actually dissuade them from looking for alternative options from other salespeople. By providing prospects with multiple options, you're acting as your own competition. Prospects always want to feel like they're choosing from a set of options, and since you're already providing them with that, they'll be less likely to feel like they have to go shop around.
5. Make it a contract.
Simply adding an area to the bottom of your proposals to allow prospects to sign it as a contractual agreement is a game-changer. This very simple technique will increase the likelihood that a prospect will do business with you. If your sale is particularly complicated, you can always create a more complex contract down the road. But ideally, your proposal will become the deal's contractual document.
By implementing these five strategies, you'll close more deals and make larger sales than you have in the past.