Writing a sales proposal is one of the most demanding parts of the marketing industry. It is where you can easily differentiate success and failure and can quickly make or break any sales deal. A single proposal writing mistake can ruin everything.
The very first thing you need to understand that a sales proposal is not just a document, it is that influential tool that is going to woo your prospective client.
Losing a sales proposal is a common frustration for sales professionals. Sometimes it is because of the elements out of your control, but there is one thing that you can control.
And that’s “QUALITY”.
Put yourself in the buyer’s shoes for a moment.
You have just received a sales proposal from someone with whom you are planning to close the deal and this is the last piece of information that will help you make your final decision.
What is that thing you will notice about the proposal? What are all the elements that you will look for?
So before you assemble it, make sure you use this sales proposal checklist:
11-Step Business Proposal Checklist
Okay, so are you ready to explore the checklist one by one?
1. Customers Pain Points/ Aspirations
Understanding the pain points of customers is one of the most profitable pieces of information in marketing. It can help you not only retain the current customers but also opens the door for new customers.
Most people write a proposal focusing entirely on the deliverables that they can offer to the prospects. But what about the prospect’s needs?
Take a moment and answer the below questions:
- What are the customer’s pain points that have been not solved?
- How will my business help to solve that pain point better than the other competitors?
Another word for “problem” is a pain point. So instead of focusing on what you are offering, your proposal should focus on the key problems your prospect is trying to solve.
In simple words, the beginning portion of your proposal should address the challenges your prospect wants to overcome. This will effectively turn your proposal into a working document.
2. Your Experience, Skill set, Processes to Help Him
- Are you the right choice (or qualified) to solve the prospect’s problem?
- Why should they choose you?
Well, keep in mind that this is the section where you have to convey the feeling that you are the expert to all who read the proposal. The proposal must showcase your experience, skill set, and most importantly your value to your prospect’s organization.
You need to differentiate your process and service from the competition. Include customer’s testimonials, your achievements, mention any related awards to win your prospect’s attention right away.
This will help you convince him that you are the best choice for the job.
3. Your Approach (Not a Solution)
Now it’s time to fill the details about your approach. But make sure the details are only about the approach and not about the solution.
- Define how do you plan to meet the objective?
- In just 2-3 lines, give a prospect a rough sketch about the method you will use for the execution.
- Be ultra-careful about not going into details, but also reveal the means by which you will fulfil your proposal’s commitments.
4. Timeline to Deliver The Solution
We all have heard that phrase time is everything, in marketing it really is.
Now, this is where you go in detail about the project timeline. I know it can be tricky to estimate the timeline. Explain the scope of work the prospect can expect from you. Describe what you will do and the time-frame for delivery or completion of key items.
Be aggressive, but realistic. This is not the time to make false promises on which you can’t deliver. Your prospect wants some someone on which he can rely, he can trust.
Timing can make or break your sales proposal, this may be the first contact with your prospect but your intend is to make him a long term customer.
Here’s an example,
5. Cost / Pricing Options
If you have been successful in the first four steps, your prospect is already sold on your product by the time he reaches this point. You have done your homework and offered an ideal solution to his organization. Here come’s a tricky part i.e “pricing”
You don’t want to under or overprice your product. Do you?
So let’s just do some adjustments in a smart way.
In this section, layout the cost with clear and easy to understand pricing options for your solutions.
Keep things short and to the point and use pricing table with a range of options that let your prospect or customer edit the quantities, select the products or services that best fit their needs and allowing them to customize your solution.
Final cost is less important than your justification for charging that much. For example, if your final cost is $20,000, break down the pricing with a list to show how you have arrived at that amount.
Finance is a significant factor in the purchasing decision.
6. Statement of Work (SoW) or Terms of Service (ToS) Clearly Defined?
According to Wikipedia:
“A Statement of Work (SOW) is a document routinely employed in the field of project management. It defines project-specific activities, deliverables, and timelines for a vendor providing services to the client. ”
But I personally think about a statement of work like this:
A kickass version of your proposal that actually describes the work to be done and the process involved completing that work.
The format for most statement of work includes the following things:
- Introduction- Type of work whether a service or a product?
- Purpose- Why the work being done?
- Scope of work- Steps that need to be taken to complete the work.
- Resources- Make a list of key personnel involved in a project such as a project manager, team leaders, any other key players, etc.
- Deliverables and timeline- List of deliverables and timeline for each deliverable.
- Pricing- You will outline the pricing for the work to be performed.
- Acceptance criteria and signatures- Finally, this section will cover how the client, buyer or entity will accept the deliverables. Acceptance criteria are enclosed with terms of service and agreeing upon it before the project avoids a lot of misunderstanding in the future.
7. Roles And Responsibilities Chalked Out?
Your team impression matters. So here’s the chance to let your team shine. Every prospect wants an easy buying experience and this section plays a very important role in that. All you will need is to answer the following questions:
- Who are the key players? Their experiences, educational backgrounds, and skills.
- Do your key players have industry experience? If not what experience do they have that’s helpful for a project?
- What duties will each player perform? What authority and responsibilities are given to each player?
8. Key Personnel Profiles Included
Those who are reading your business proposal want to know who is running the company. This is the place you should document that your employees are invested, qualified and passionate about the business.
You must spotlight the key personnel in your sales proposal.
The bio should present a picture of why you selected this individual for the project.
- Title of the position the individual will hold.
- Past industry experience.
- Significant quality and success that is applicable
- Duties and tasks he/she will be performing.
Clearly indicate how each person is a perfect fit for his or her role in the business.
9. Customer References Included
Consciously or subconsciously every buyer is waiting for this section to come. Customer references are one of the most important confidence signals you can use on your proposal.
In your sales proposal include recommendations from clients you helped in the past. Positive customer references make it easy to understand how businesses are able to accomplish with your product or service. This allows the prospect to put themselves in your customer’s shoes and learn what they may gain after purchasing your product or retaining your service.
For maximum impact, highlight testimonials from the customers, your prospect is familiar with and can relate to.
If you can’t get testimonials simply put the names of the high profiles you have worked with.
10. Approval From Respective Teams?
Successful projects are usually the result of careful planning and collaboration of team members. It can’t move forward without each of the key members. I believe a project isn’t a project until your team approves it.
That’s why when you draft the first version of your sales proposal, it has to be reviewed and approved by your respective teams.
11. Online Signature Included
Being successful implies keeping up with the trends. Innovations are meant for making various processes easier, saving time, boosting efficiency. These very same goals any business strives to achieve it to rank high in the business competition.
So make the best use of digital transformation and maximize the chances of success right now by implementing electronic signatures.
- E-signatures provides your document’s high security with strong encryption algorithm.
- E-signatures saves prospects time.
- It makes the overall signing procedure much more convenient to them
When buyers arrive at the end of your proposal, they should feel that what you are offering can solve their problem, minimize the pain and ultimately increase their revenue.
This checklist will help you stay focused. Every time you schedule a sales call run through the list beforehand and make sure you are all prepared.