Recently I spoke to a group of salespeople about creating a compelling sales proposal. Not everyone who sells a product or service needs to be able to write a proposal, but salespeople often hear “send me some information” from prospects. Here are seven things you can do to create a great proposal that will help you stand out from the competition.
1. Make the first page count. The majority of sales proposals I read start with the seller talking about his or her company. They usually open with details such as how long the company has been in business, who their clients are, what awards they have won, how innovative they are, etc.
But, your prospects don’t care about this. They really don’t. What they want to know is “How can this person help me solve a problem?” Address that question by putting the following three pieces of information on your first page: a brief summary of the prospect’s situation, the key objectives your prospect wants to achieve and the value in meeting those objectives.
The reason you want to place all this information on the first page is to capture your prospect’s attention. And the reason it is effective is because it is all about them, not you. This approach demonstrates that you have an accurate understanding of the prospect’s situation, what he or she wants to accomplish and how it will affect his or her business.
2. Use headings. Your prospects are busy people, just like you. Make it easy for them to find specific information by using headings throughout a proposal. For example, when I construct a proposal, I use a heading for each of the three points on the first page (“Situation Summary,” “Key Objectives,” “Value”) and headings for the remaining items (“Solution,” “ROI,” “Guarantee,” “Investment,” etc.). Headings also break up the page and make your proposal easier to read—just like a good article or blog post.
3. Include testimonials or endorsements. Ever watch an infomercial? Notice how they make liberal use of endorsements and testimonials? You can do the same thing in your proposals. Sprinkle them throughout and include them in each section (other than the first page—you don’t want anything to distract your prospect from reading the first page). Be careful not to get carried away, though. Testimonials should reinforce key points, not take over your proposal.