For many salespeople, writing sales proposals is a bad investment of their time.
That’s because salespeople often take hours to craft proposals, yet what they end up with is actually hurting their chances of closing the sale.
Shockingly few proposals are good. Even fewer are great.
If you’re spending hours on something that is only hurting your chances of actually closing the deal, it’s a bad investment of your time.
But sales proposals are also a critical component of a sales presentation, so you can’t abandon them altogether.
The solution? Get really, really good at writing sales proposals.
Fortunately, once you know what to do, writing a great sales proposal that helps you close more sales doesn’t have to be complicated.
In this video and article, I’m sharing the 5 keys to writing a great sales proposal that closes the deal, every single time.
By applying these techniques, you can make the time you spend on sales proposals an excellent use of your time—time that ultimately results in more sales and more money.
Why Your Sales Proposals Aren’t Working
Who taught you how to write a sales proposal?
If you’re like most salespeople, you probably picked up techniques for your sales proposals in some haphazard way.
Even if someone did take the time to teach you how to write sales proposals, did they test out the best approaches to writing proposals before passing on their opinions to you?
As a result of my work with thousands of salespeople across industries, I’ve been able to see firsthand what actually works in sales presentations.
I’ve adapted the most successful ideas into my own unique sales proposal creation process with 5 keys to a great sales proposal that closes the deal.
Keep reading to discover proven sales proposal techniques that actually work.
#1: Always start with a thorough discovery conversation.
Now, for some salespeople this may seem obvious—for others, not so much.
But here’s the key: A proposal never comes before a thorough discovery conversation. Ever.
This is absolutely critical. Great salespeople never give a prospect a proposal until they thoroughly understand what’s really going on.
That’s the beauty of this proposal strategy that I’m going to share with you; it forces you to do a good job in discovery.
When a prospect says early on, “Hey, can you just send me a proposal?” don’t take that shortcut.
Instead, always respond with something like, “You know what? I’d love to, but I don’t really know enough about your situation to be able to craft something that would actually be useful. Would it be okay if I asked some questions before we get to that proposal?”
Now you sound like an expert who actually cares to understand their needs.
This helps you build trust with prospects and prepares you to write sales proposals that actually close the deal.
#2: Lay out the objectives you’ve discussed.
The key to a great proposal is that it must show that you really understand what’s going on in the world of your prospect.
This means your proposals should never be boilerplate.
Instead, they should be built on the foundation of a deep and thorough conversation about what the prospect is really looking to accomplish.
You need to show that you’re clear on the prospect’s top three objectives related to the type of work that you do.
This doesn’t have to be complicated. Simply type out a list based on what you’ve already discussed and put them at the beginning of your proposal.
This shows that you were listening to your prospect’s needs and helps you frame the rest of your proposal as a solution to their biggest challenges.
#3: Restate the value of achieving your prospects’ top objectives.
This next key is where you create massive value in the eyes of your prospect.
This step counts on you asking really good questions in your discovery meeting to determine the exact value of your prospect achieving their objectives.
Once you do that, you can simply restate that value in your sales proposals to provide context for making a buying decision.
As a general rule, the value to solve their objectives should be at least 10 times the cost of your solution.
When you can present those numbers side by side in your sales proposals, buying your solution will seem like a no-brainer to even high-level prospects.
#4: Provide three options in your sales proposals for accomplishing those objectives.
Notice how I didn’t say, “Provide three options for your services,” because it’s really not about your services or your products—it’s about accomplishing those objectives.
Most proposals only give one option. This is a lost opportunity.
No matter how smooth your sales meeting was, how much research you’ve done, and how much you fully understand your prospect, you can’t read the mind of your prospect.
By giving only one option, you run the risk of writing a proposal that’s way out of budget and won’t possibly close or so low that you leave money on the table.
These are losses you could avoid by simply covering all your bases and offering three options.
First, you’re going to give a more basic option. This is a less expensive option that’s still profitable to you and still solves their problems.
Then, you give a middle option that would probably be your core offering for the majority of your prospects to ultimately choose.
Finally, you have a high-end option. This is the true premium option, the Bentley of options!
Remember, the power of the premium isn’t just that some people will choose it—although many will—but that it sets a high bar and makes that middle option seem like a complete no-brainer.
This three-option approach is going to help you make larger sales, because some people are choosing those premium option.
But it’s also going to help you close more sales because you’re giving people the feeling of optionality, so they’re less likely to shop around on you.
#5: Make your sales proposals double as contracts.
This simply means that any great proposal should have a place at the end where prospects can sign the proposal to start the project.
Every time we add an additional step in the sales process, we create opportunities for the sale to fall apart.
Let’s just imagine that your prospect says, “Yes. Let’s move forward,” and then you say, “Great! I’ll have the contract drafted and sent over to you by the end of the day today.”
Now, you’ve created a gap between them saying yes and getting started—big mistake.
This gap in time just gives them an opportunity to move on and focus on other things when you could be closing the sale right then and there.
Avoid too much legalese and keep it simple, but make your sale proposals serve as contracts that you can get signed on the spot.
Conclusion: Close More and Bigger Sales with Strong Sales Proposals
As a salesperson, you can grow your profits in two ways: You can close more sales, and you can close bigger sales.
Strong sales proposals help you do both and really crush your goals.
Before you sit down to write your sales proposals, remember to always start with a strong discovery process and thoughtful questions.
When you nail that first step, you’ll have everything you need to write a killer sales proposal without spending hours at your computer.
Begin your sales proposals by simply recapping the top three objectives your prospect discussed with you.
This shows that you were paying attention to their needs and frames the rest of your proposal as a solution to their biggest problems.
Next, restate the value of achieving those objectives in order to create value around your solution.
When your solution only costs a fraction of the value of achieving those objectives, closing the sale will be a no brainer!
From there, provide three options for accomplishing those critical objectives.
Your options should include a basic option, and intermediate option, and a premium option.
On one hand, this will help you close more sales. When prospects see that premium option, it provides some context and makes it easier for them to commit to your intermediate option without shopping around.
On the other hand, you’ll also close much bigger sales, because prospects will often surprise you by buying your premium option.
Finally, increase the likelihood that your sales proposals result in successful sales by ensuring every proposal can double as a contract.
Get a signature on the spot to ensure you walk away with a closed deal.
So there you have it—the 5 keys to a great sales proposal that actually closes the deal.
I want to hear from you. Which of these ideas do you find most useful? Be sure to share below in the comments section and join the conversation.
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About the Author Marc Wayshak
Marc is is the best-selling author of three books on sales and leadership, including the highly acclaimed titles Game Plan Selling, The High-Velocity Sales Organization and his forthcoming book, Sales Conversations, Mastered.
Marc is a contributor to Inc, HubSpot, Fast Company, Entrepreneur Magazine, and Huffington Post Business. He also hosts a popular YouTube channel on sales strategy with over 103,000 subscribers.
Marc helps thousands of people his data-driven, science-based approach to selling that utilizes all the best tools available to sales organizations today.