Sales proposals are one of the key methods for winning new business. This holds true, no matter what industry or niche you’re in. However, most business owners think that there is a trick to cracking the sales proposal code.
The truth is, there is only one tip to writing the perfect sales proposal – make the customer feel like you’re the right person/company to do the job. That’s it.
Today, we’ll explore some of the ways that you can convince your client that you are the right person to solve their problem. Moreover, we’ll show you how to guide them from opening your proposal to signing it faster than you can say “Better Proposals”.
Speaking of which, it’s the best way to automate the way you write, send and manage business proposals. Sign up for Better Proposals today to see how you can send more proposals in less time and get more clients for your business!
Step 1 – knowing what the client really wants
When you ask your potential client about what they want to be done, you will usually get answers such as:
– New website
– New sales copy
– Marketing material
– Design overhaul
The truth is, that’s not what most people really need. If you take their requests as is, you may deliver them a product or service that doesn’t solve their needs. For example, someone who needs a new website may just need more conversions from their existing website. Someone who needs SEO may just need to improve their website’s loading speed. Sometimes, they may want to spruce up their website so they can sell their business more easily.
Before you do anything, ask your clients about the actual reasons they need your services. The real reason why someone wants a product or service could be vastly different from what they initially tell you.
This is the information you want for your sales proposal. If you start off your sales proposal targeting this pain point instead of offering them a new website, you will get to the heart of their problem and getting their business becomes much, much easier.
When we analyzed the proposals that our customers send, we discovered that the introduction is where you will either win or lose most of your prospects. If they like what they read, they will move on to the rest of the proposal. If not, they’ll bounce. This is why it’s crucial to get them interested by using the right words immediately.
Example of a real sales proposal
Let’s take a look at our previous example. Someone wants to buy automation software from you because they want to have more time – they haven’t seen any of their kid’s football games. Let’s take a look at two approaches and opening lines of a sales proposal.
First, an example of what not to do:
“ABC company will build you some custom software which will automate many of your business’ repetitive tasks. It’ll be a web-based system which you’ll be able to access from anywhere”.
Boring, right? Now, take a look at this:
“Building a business is hard. It requires tens of thousands of hours but there has to be a line drawn at some point between your business life and your personal life. In building your business so far, that line has become very blurred and it’s not sustainable.
The system we’ll build you will take the 20-hours of repetitive admin tasks you do each week and automate them. This will bring you back to a more regular working week. Because your new business automation system is completely web-based, and lets you have control of your business without being in the office if you like.
Yes, you are investing in a business solution, but you’re also investing in a lifestyle solution.
Going forward, this will serve as the building blocks for the growth of your business”
Sounds a lot better and directly addresses the concerns of a parent who can’t make it to their kid’s football games. You’re offering the same product to the same customer, but the approach is much different and much more likely to result in a conversion.
Sure, the second version is longer and takes more time to write. But at the same time, this is the kind of approach you want for a winning sales proposal. Once again, it’s all about how the client feels because that feeling is what makes them sign. Go deeper than what they claim they want and find out what they really want.
Do this, and you have an excellent introduction to your sales proposal – you got them hooked. However, this just scratches the surface.
Win them over with a detailed specification
It’s time to jump from emotion to cold, hard facts. No matter how well you “read” the client and appeal to their needs in the introduction, it doesn’t matter much if you can’t deliver what they actually need. This is what the detailed specification is for.
In this part of the sales proposal, you show them how you plan to solve their problem. In our case, we’ll go into detail regarding our business automation software offer. We’ll tell them:
– Exactly what we will build them
– What tasks the software will automate
– How much time they will save every week
– Who will be working on their project
– What they can expect when the project is done
This is where you show the client that you know what you’re doing and that you’ve handled similar projects before.
If you’re selling social media services, add links to your previous clients’ pages with notes on your contribution and how much they’ve grown. If you’re a designer, it’s a great idea to link your portfolio to illustrate your niche or flexibility.
You won their heart, now it’s time to win their mind too.
The key thing about this section of your sales proposal is to speak to the client in their language. Don’t use overly technical language that they won’t understand. Your aim is to persuade, not confuse. Talk back to the client and use the words that they conveyed to you in the discovery sessions, meetings and emails.
As Ben Walker of Transcription Outsourcing says:
“All of our proposals now are as short as possible with way less legalese in them. Why make them so complicated and long when you are trying to make a good first impression. It’s like a first date, if you talk too much you are going to turn them off, so stop talking so much and get to the point.”
Time is of the essence
No sales proposal should be left without a section called “Timescales”. Unfortunately, it’s a section that many sales professionals often leave out. This is where you mention exactly when you will be able to provide the work or service to the client. As obvious as it may seem, you’d be surprised how many times it gets omitted.
This is where you can also use the information you got from the client. Do they have a special event coming up? Is there an urgent deadline approaching? Do they have a holiday planned out with their family in the summer? Note the timeline and make sure that your own estimate matches what they tell you. If you can get the project done just before an important event that they have coming up, you are one step closer to getting your sales proposal signed.
The proof section of your sales proposal
So far, we’re doing a solid job of convincing the client that we’re the real deal and that we have what it takes to solve their problem. Let’s take it one step further and show them that you’ve done it before.
This section of the sales proposal is to drive your point one step further and make your client feel like you know what you’re doing. You’ll do this by showing them examples of work you’ve done before for clients similar to them.
The key part of the proof section is to list at least two examples of work you’ve done for clients whose situation closely resembles the potential client you’re pitching. The closer you can hit home with your examples, the more impact it will have on the client and the more likely they are to sign.
In our specific example, we would look for a client who wanted to save time with business automation software to spend more time with their family. Once they started using our solution, they saved 10 hours per week and had more time to devote to their family and hobbies.
The great thing about this sales proposal section is that you can choose a variety of formats. Testimonials, case studies, reviews, videos, portfolios – you can choose whatever you like, as long as it’s relevant for the particular client.
As you can read in some of our other blogs, the pricing section is the second most vital section of any sales proposal. Most clients will skip the other sections and jump straight from the introduction to the pricing. Don’t get discouraged – use this to your advantage.
First, the budget. Since you got to know the client and their needs well, take this into consideration and set the price in your sales proposal according to what they can spend. Quoting $20,000 when they can spend $5,000 will get you nowhere.
The second part is all about emotion as well. You want to make the client feel like they’re not wasting money. That’s why we give this section one of the following names in all of our proposal templates:
– Return on investment
Basically, you want the client to feel like they’re investing, rather than spending. It may be a small trick but it’s moving them one step closer to signing and that’s all that matters.
Another neat trick is to tie value to the price. All you have to do is throw in a quote or two from previous clients about how you helped them solve a particular problem.
Finally, don’t do any upsells. Remember that your client has a single problem and you’re here with the antidote. We’ve done some research (based on more than 180,000 signed sales proposals) and we found that a single offer performs a lot better than offering your client a choice. If you force them to choose between two or more offers, you’re effectively decreasing your chances of getting more conversions.
In the end, there is only one thing that matters – the client and how they feel after reading your sales proposal. If you can provide a great product or service, it’s all about convincing the client that you can solve their problem – their actual, underlying problem.
Great sales proposals are created much before the proposal writing process even begins. At the heart of each great sales proposal is knowing what makes each client tick. Before you get your proposal software open and ready to write that proposal, make sure to carefully listen to the client first – and half of your job is already done.