By David DiStefano, former President and CEO of Richardson
Your sales proposal may be your only foot in the door to a potential client. Here are 6 tips to make sure your sales proposal engages, educates and convinces from start to finish.
1. Begin with a killer Executive Summary
Decision makers might only read your Executive Summary, so rather than summarize your entire proposal, briefly explain why the client should buy from you. Focus on your potential client’s problems, then the solutions you can provide. Articulate expected outcomes from your solution. And don’t forget a call-to-action. Compel your reader to get started ASAP.
Think of your Executive Summary as your proposal’s CliffsNotes. If your contact reads nothing else, he or she should still be sold on what you’re selling.
2. Keep it short & simple
People skim. Buyers probably won’t spend more than 30 seconds reviewing your proposal the first time around, so give them reasons to come back and read more thoroughly:
- Grab their attention with short, boiled-down sentences.
- Use bullet points to highlight important features or benefits.
- Don’t be redundant. Say things once—clearly. Your reader is intelligent. You don’t need to rehash the same point.
3. Speak to the decision makers
It’s not enough to address your proposal to a generic audience. Target the decision makers. Do your research. It’s important to know your audience and the problems they’re concerned about. Just make sure you don’t tell them what they already know. Don’t recount their organization’s issues. Focus instead on how you’ll improve them.
For more, read Tinderbox’s insightful advice on Research: The Key to a Great Sales Proposal.
4. Speak the language
Always use your prospect’s jargon. If he or she works in the dog food industry, it’s your job to speak “dog food”! Use their terminology, and they’ll be more engaged with your proposal.
On the flip side, avoid jargon the reader won’t know. For example, if you work at a Pharma company, don’t bog down your proposal with acronyms and medical terms. Spell out acronyms and define unfamiliar phrases.
5. Customization is king
While you’ll reuse some boilerplate information, tailor each proposal for the intended recipient. Appropriately address how you can solve your prospect’s issues with your product or service. You won’t close the deal if you offer the same solutions you provided your last customer.
6. Summarize all key points
Your conclusion should reiterate the key points of your proposal. Again, hone in on benefits to your potential client. Wrap up with a call-to-action. There should be no question about what to do next.
In today’s real-time economy, hypothetical or abstract ROI is dead. Value-based selling must articulate individualized ROI. Your sales proposal is the beginning or the end to a business relationship. What side of the fence do you want to be on?