Writing a proposal takes time and careful planning. You could have your customer completely bought into your solution at this point of the game, but if you make certain mistakes in the proposal writing stage it could kill your chances of making the sale. Here are six ways to make sure that your proposals are done right and help you close more deals.
After successfully applying the C.F.B.I. principals that I shared with you in the last article of the series, How to Make a Powerful Sales Presentation Using C.F.B.I., you should have built up enough value behind your solution to be ready to present your prospect with a winning proposal. Now all you need is the right format to presenting the necessary information.
Often times I get proposals sent to me with “ABOUT US” highlighted and on the first or second page of the proposal. This is a huge mistake and should be saved for the very end of the proposal. At this point I’m not interested about learning more on your company just yet. By this stage of the sales process you should have already presented your company to me. Now I want to see exactly what you will do for me and how much it will cost. This is what most senior-level business executives and decision makers care about and want to see early on when reading through a proposal. As a result, I get the costs and payments part out of the way mid-way through the proposal. It is more effective than waiting for the very end to address this important element.
What really catches my eye, and the eyes of many of the customers that both my teams and I have sold to over the past decade is the following:
1. Objectives: What are the objectives? What are the core challenges that your solution will be addressing? Re-iterate the C.F.B.I. formula that you used during your presentation in step 4 of your sales process.
2. Deliverables & Benefits: What are the key deliverables and the benefits that my business will receive if we sign with your company?
3. Costs & Payment Schedule: How much will it cost and what’s the payment schedule?
4. Process & Timeline: What will the implementation process and timeline look like?
5. Credibility: Why should I choose your company and your solution over my competitors? Who else have you helped solve similar challenges?
6. Signature and Expiration Date: Include a place for your prospect to sign and commit themselves to your solution. Also specify an expiration date that lets them know that your offer expires and will have to be re-negotiated if that date comes and goes. This tends to put a sense of urgency if your prospect is interested in pursuing your solution.
Finally, one of the most important factors that can make or break a deal at this stage is the accuracy of your proposal. If you have spelling mistakes, get the name or title of your decision maker wrong, grammar errors like incorrect use of punctuations or inconsistent formatting, or even worse – if your numbers don’t add up then you WILL lose a degree of credibility. How big a degree depends on many factors, but I can tell you that some people, and I’ve been known to fall into this category, might stop and question your ability to pay attention to detail and deliver your solution with accuracy if you can’t even manage to hand in an error-free proposal. This can definitely be a deal breaker because there is no such thing as a small oversight in a proposal. There should be NO oversights.
The other thing you need to make sure is that ALL verbal promises made to your prospect in previous conversations are included in your written proposal. By omitting, either accidently or with purpose, past verbal promises you will be perceived as trying to “pull a fast one” on your prospect. This will almost always discredit you and put a dead stop to your sales process. What a waste of time that was right? Well this is easy to avoid if you take down thorough notes during all of your communications with your prospects. The pen and paper, or these days the finger and tablet, can be your biggest allies in a sales process. No one can remember every little detail, so write it down. Just my two cents.
Before presenting your proposal it’s always a good idea to review it with your manager because they might catch some errors or oversights that you missed. While doing that, you could also discuss potential obstacles and objections that you may encounter so that you come prepared with an arsenal of tools that you could use during the negotiation and review stage.
Good luck and happy selling!
Links to other posts by Steven Tulman:
How to Make a Powerful Sales Presentation: Stage 4 of the 9-Step Sales Process: Presenting Your Solution Stage and C.F.B.I.
B-CHUBS: The 6 Questions to Ask When Performing a Needs Discovery: The 9 Step Sales Process Stage 3: The Intro Call & Needs Discovery
Using Storytelling to Make a Compelling Presentation