Sales Proposal: 6 Steps to Write a Professional Proposal

Sales Proposal: 6 Steps to Write a Professional Proposal
Vlad Kovalskiy
September 21, 2021
Last updated: October 8, 2021

Salespersons existed since the dawn of civilization. Trade was always a significant part of social interactions. Numerous selling techniques were invented over the years, which then went through some noticeable transformations. A sales proposal is one of them. Although a product of a relatively modern business model, it deserves more attention and appreciation.

Many sales reps treat sales proposals as routine documents. Yet, if you spend enough time and efforts to polish them, to make them truly memorable, they could become roads that lead customers right to your doorstep. Sales proposals are designed to convince the prospects that they have a problem, and you're ready to hand them a perfect solution to all their troubles, they just need to say "yes". That's why they have to be short, explicit, convincing, and appealing. But how to achieve all these characteristics? Let's take a look at some tips, advice, and lifehacks that might be of use in accomplishing this challenging task.


Definition and Types of Sales Proposals

A sales proposal is a document you send to your potential clients when you want to offer and advertise your company's products or services. Its major purpose is to persuade your potential clients that you're the knight in shining armor they've been waiting for. This implies proving that they need your services, and showing that you actually have the tools to improve their lives.

Sales proposals can be solicited and unsolicited. The first one means you're sending it to the people you've already been in contact with. For instance, you could discuss this with them previously, or they've asked you to submit it in a request for proposal (RFP). With this type, you have more chances to succeed because you already know all the necessary details, e.g. expected results, budget, deadlines, plus, you can even use their request for proposal as a guide or instruction that you can follow while you draft your document.

If you have to write an unsolicited sales proposal, it could be way more challenging because the information you possess simply might not be sufficient to make your message neat, personal, and compelling. In addition, your offer might be really lucrative, but it's unexpected, so a company might not have spare resources to spend on it at the moment. However, it was your initiative, which means you're the one who's proposing these services to them right now. Absence of competitors is a really favorable and encouraging circumstance, proving that unsolicited sales proposals aren't a lost cause and might lead to an actual deal.

Traditionally, to successfully serve its purpose, a sales proposal should contain the following elements:

  • A problem that the prospects have and can resolve using your product. In case of solicited proposals, you have to show that you have a comprehensive understanding of the clients' needs. When it comes to unsolicited sales proposals, your prospects might not even know that they have issues they need to address. Your task is to catch their attention and convince them that their lives can be better.

  • The solution that you're offering. Now that you've made them see that they have certain challenges they have to deal with, they would be pleased to know that you have already figured out the answer to their problems. The trick is to demonstrate the clear and direct connection between applying your product and resolving their issue.

  • The benefits of choosing your company. If it's a solicited sales proposal, you need to make sure that you've checked all the boxes, e.g. budget, time limits and final product. Then highlight the points that make you a preferable choice in comparison with your competitors. For instance, you can mention your product's advanced features, provide examples of success stories, or highlight your experience in the industry. Unsolicited proposals might take some extra efforts due to the absence of strict guidelines or requirements. Still, if you truly are a professional salesperson, pointing out the advantages of choosing your firm won't pose you with any significant difficulties.

  • An engaging conclusion that motivates your prospects to finalize the deal right away. So, they see the advantages of working with you and approve your sales proposal. Let them know that you're looking forward to collaboration, and provide them clear instructions on what to do next. Don't forget that the lesser steps it requires to contact you and strike a deal, the more inclined the person will be to do this.

Remember, an inspiring sales proposal is always about the customer. It is a self presentation, but you shouldn't turn it into bragging. If you manage to make your message short, concise, structured, personal, and easy to follow, it would be easier for the potential clients to see the benefits of working with you.


Working Techniques to Create a Professional Proposal

The contemporary world sets the highest standards for those who strive to achieve success. It moves fast, and you need to keep that in mind while composing your sales proposal. The people who read it most likely won't have time to sit at the desk guessing what you were trying to say. So, if your presentation isn't brief, explicit, and catchy, they'll quickly lose interest and move on.

Plus, naturally, people tend to like things that they can easily comprehend. If your sales proposal forces them to spend extra efforts on trying to understand and follow through your message, it will leave them with a bad impression, while your goal is to please the potential customer.

Yet, the tricky part is that in this proposal you should appear as knowledgeable, trustworthy and professional. Therefore, making the message too short or simple is also a wrong strategy. So, if you wonder how to reach that perfect balance, take a look at some of the most efficient tactics you can apply while crafting your sales proposal.

Keep It Short

Obviously, saying "keep it short, but not too short" would be confusing. Hence, it requires a little elaboration. Basically, your sales proposal should cover all the basic points, such as identifying the client's needs, offering solutions, presenting price options, or providing examples of successful cases, but not in the excessively detailed manner. Being through is a good trait, but there are limits to the number of things people can perceive and concentrate on. Generally, the perfect length for a sales proposal is somewhere between 8 and 20 pages, depending on the complexity of the offer.

Make It Personal

No one wants to waste time reading some generic statements. Address the clients' concerns, and you will be rewarded. Here are some of the tips you can use to add a personal touch to your sales proposal:

  • Focus on the prospects' needs and issues, show them that you understand their priorities and share their values. Don't rush, do proper research and study your potential customers, so you can demonstrate them that you're on the same page.

  • If you're using a sales proposal template, customize it. Cut everything out that doesn't correspond with the interests of this particular client, address the person you're writing to by name, tailor important parts, such as the budget, features, and timeline, in accordance with the prospect's expectations to make them feel heard and appreciated.

  • Keep an eye on your sentence structure and choice of words, use the "you" pronoun and avoid the passive voice. This way, you'll create an impression that this message was modified to suit the prospects' individual preferences.

Offer a Real Solution

Undoubtedly, your product has many advantages. Still, advertising should be smart. A simple list of your product's characteristics won't get you the results you strive for. Thus, before approaching potential clients with a sales proposal, make sure that your company can actually provide the tools to solve their problems. If it is true, demonstrate a direct connection between your product and their struggles. When you mention a feature, prove that it is relevant to the case. Otherwise, prospects will have to do this for you, and they might decide that many of these instruments are redundant and completely unnecessary, so they won't take your offer.

Provide Multiple Options

It always feels nice to know that you have a choice. A sales proposal with multiple options can provide you with the competitive advantage because the prospects will feel like you've already accounted for everything they might need. Plus, it will demonstrate that you have a more flexible approach to your potential customers than the others. Ideally, your sales proposal should include 3 solutions at different price levels. In this case, clients have enough options to choose from, but you won't get lost while trying to compare them. In addition, if you range them from the highest to the lowest price, prospects won't be scared and defensive when they see your premium offer. Thus, this is a great opportunity to promote your expensive products.

Visualize Data

Scientists confirmed it multiple times: people perceive and process information better when it's presented in a visual rather than a written or spoken form. Charts, tables, and graphs are your irreplaceable helpers if you want to send a clear message and impress your prospects. Moreover, a rational and scientific approach with numbers and diagrams will demonstrate your credibility and confirm that you're an expert in this particular subject. Therefore, add visuals to the parts of your sales proposal when it seems appropriate. You can use them to back up your statements or replace whole pieces of text with them.

Stick to the Point

If your sales proposal is too long to read and too hard to understand, it is unlikely that the prospects will have time or patience to follow it through. Even if they do, the odds are it won't be a pleasant experience. Your job is to turn your sales proposal into a journey that will be brief enough, so they won't get tired; exciting, so they won't get bored; and informative, so they could learn all the necessary information. Here is some advice you might want to follow to make your sales proposal short and concise:

  • Avoid technical jargon and metaphors. You probably think that it will make your message more professional or appealing. It might be true, but there is a risk it will lead to unnecessary misunderstanding or confusion. It's safer to stick to more common expressions that everyone can understand.

  • If you see that something in your proposal is too complex, try to break it into smaller and less complicated parts. You can also use visual aids to explain it better.

  • Establish connections between your product's features and customers' needs. Don't be vague or ambiguous — address the prospects' concerns directly.

Make sure that your sales proposal follows a clear structure with titles, headings, and short paragraphs. All of these sections should follow an algorithm and have their own inner logic.


6 Steps to Write a Flawless Sales Proposal

Generally, your sales proposal undergoes 3 stages: preparation, writing, and editing. During each phase, you need to take several steps to complete it and move to the next level. Let's dive into a multilayered process of composing a sales proposal.

Step 1. Gather all the available information on your prospects

At this stage, you'll need to identify what is it that this particular prospect might want from you. If you've already met, you can use data you obtained in previous interactions or study the request for proposal. Plus, you can use any open source to enrich your knowledge. For instance, you can turn to news and interviews with them, review their web-site and social media profiles, read the publications about them, or watch conferences they attended. All of these sources work for the unsolicited sales proposals as well.

As soon as you've gathered the information, analyze it and try to figure out the following:

  • What are your prospects' goals? Do they have any pain points or problems you can resolve?

  • What are their expectations? For instance, what budget do they have, what product or service do they want to get, what results are they aiming for, and what timelines have they set up.

  • Who is in charge of the matters you discuss in your presentation? It personalizes the message and ensures that you won't send it to the wrong person.

Step 2. Use this data to compose your unique selling proposition (USP)

When you present your company and the solution it provides, you should focus on the advantages that could be of use to your potential customers. A unique selling proposition implies that your presentation is tailored specifically to address customers' concerns and to show what makes you more suitable for their needs than other firms. Here you can include your unique experience, successful cases, impressive results, or innovative features. But remember, the goal of your sales proposal is not to brag, but to make you stand out from the endless row of competitors.

Step 3. Create a framework for your sales proposal

Your sales proposal needs to have a clear structure if you want it to be explicit and easy to follow. Generally, you can organize it into these blocks:

  • A presentation of the company

  • Problems and challenges that need to be addressed

  • Possible solutions (products and services you're offering) listed in accordance with their price

  • Time limits and major stages of the project

  • Examples, cases, and success stories

  • Terms and conditions

  • Instructions on what to do next

Step 4. Write a draft of your proposal

Now that you have an algorithm to follow, turn these blocks into major sections with headings and subheadings. Then you're ready to fill them with text, based on the information you obtained during the research stage. Don't spend too much time on this and you can fix all the imperfections during the next step.

Step 5. Write the final version of the document

So, you have a draft of your sales proposal. Now it's time to work on it one last time. Get rid of wordiness, verify that you comply with all the customers' requirements and accommodate all their needs, ensure that you follow the structure and haven't forgotten anything, and make the tone of your message consistent throughout the document. Finally, your sales proposal is complete. But it isn't ready to be sent, there are a couple of things you still have to do.

Step 6. Proofread, edit, and sent it

Wait for some time to clear your head, then read your sales proposal again because there is always a chance that you've missed something. Ask your colleague to take a look at it, as outside perspective and constructive feedback can be really helpful. Check the document for mistakes and typos with special grammar checkers, like Ginger or Grammarly. Now all you have to do is press "Send" and wait for a positive response.

It might seem challenging to write a sales proposal. However, modern technologies are advanced enough to allow you to do it without spending any extra efforts. For instance, Bitrix24 software provides the perfect toolkit for your company representation, including a wide range of customizable templates, storage with data on clients' and prospects' available in one click, impressive selection of charts and graphs, ability to export and import files, and great functionality for editing and sharing documents. Forget about doing everything manually, focus on strategic planning and enjoy the fruits of technological progress.

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