5 Ways To A Winning Sales Proposal

The marketplace is most competitive than ever, budgets are more constrained and justification is more challenging than ever. Now more than ever, knowledge is power and having the right strategy and tools will mean that you stay in front of your competition and can be market-agile and responsive to customer needs.

1. Hyper Focus With A Purpose

If you’re involved with a team that is responsible with drafting a proposal, you must understand the basic concept of a proposal and remember that it is a sales tool not an information packet. The focus must be entirely on the prospect’s objectives and deliverables. The focus of the proposal should be on the key problems your prospect wants to solve. Initially, this should include the challenges that your prospect wants to overcome. This, in turn, will create effective working documents that outline specific client objectives.

Remember that the purpose of the proposal is to make a persuasive case that leads to a sale. There are key tenets to win the business and potential obstacles that your proposal must overcome including the new prospect who will most likely just toss your proposal; ensuring that your proposal is compliant with the customer’s own template or it too will get thrown out; keeping common sense throughout the proposal and this means having the executive summary specifically address the customer’s problem up front; and finally, making certain that the proposal provides value for the prospect and include compelling reasons to choose your solution.

Overall, the proposals’ detailed description section will be complementary to the executive summary and keep the prospects’ attention throughout. If you are responding to a request for information or proposal (RFI/RFP), ensure that the main body of the proposal focuses on answering in complete details how your solution will solve the problem.

2. Research and Outcomes

It’s been said that if you know the enemy and know yourself, you should not fear the results of a hundred battles but in the modern English vernacular, if you know your customer and your solutions, you shall not suffer defeat but a wining victory can be yours. Though we are not referring to the Art of War, winning prospects with proposals and closing the sales is similar to winning the strategic battle.

One particular way to do research includes interviewing people in various groups that are involved in the decision making process and learn their perspectives including issues that are important. Just remember that different groups will have their own goals and perspectives so each group may differ according to each situation.

3. The Keys and Preparation

Almost all teams miss the mark regarding what is most important to their customers – the deliverables are the key. Instead of writing proposal that only focus on what can be provided to prospects, re-focus your strategy in knowing that prospects don’t pay for deliverables but they pay for outcomes and results. The proposal is just a platform to articulate the outcomes and results with which the prospect will achieve as a result of the deal at hand.

To adequately prepare for embarking on the proposal process, you must ensure to present all components as a cohesive solution throughout and adequately explain how the solution may include multiple products, services, delivery capabilities, and ongoing support.

The proposal process requires having to establish the appropriate groundwork initially. Your proposal will be thrown out unless you’ve done marketing and sales activities that establish recognition in the mind of the decision-maker. There are two ways to do this: create a public presence or personal presence. In the first, this consists of advertising, social networking, public relations, sponsoring conferences, sending speakers to conferences, publishing newsletters, and so forth. In the second, this consists of establishing recognition through sales calls, customer meetings, emails, notes, texts, and phone calls.

Keep the proposal short, concise, to the point, and minimal as possible without detracting from a thorough but not necessarily “in the weeds” explanation. Many proposals are too lengthy and end up losing the customer and that’s why brevity of one to two pages is preferred. Only mention areas that are important to the prospect and this means excluding unimportant information such as your biography or a list company accolades.

4. The Heart Of The Matter

Your proposal must be able to clearly explain the problem to be solved and directly correlate how your solution will address it. As you getting to the heart of the matter, lead your customer to no more than three options or solutions. Also keep the costs and customer budget in mind – ideally list a lower cost option, medium cost, and higher cost option. Each option should clearly delineate the trade space between cost and benefit and this will help to drive your customer towards the best suited solution without causing much financial pain.

In the midst of being cost conscious and genuinely interested in your customer’s problems, your organization and, consequently you, are creating creditability with the customer. By providing other options, you’ve helped the customer in justifying the right solution and right cost which will also become a barrier to other factors and it means that you’re acting as your own competition. Empower your customer with knowledge, justifying reasons, costs-benefits, and choice and you will most certainly product winning proposals.

5. Contract Time

With a winning proposal and a new found respect and confidence from your customer, you want them to focus on taking action – at the bottom of your proposal to allow prospects to sign it as a contractual agreement is a game-changer. This simple technique will increase the likelihood that a prospect will do business with you and if your sale becomes complicated, you can always create a more complex contract down the road. The holy grail of proposal and sales is for your proposal to become the deal’s contractual document. By practicing these strategies, you and your team will most certainly increase the win rate and build new found customer relationships too.