Whether it’s a formal or casual request, the key is to make your proposal stand out from all the others the prospect receives. Here are seven things you can do to make that happen.
1. Make the First Page Count
The majority of sales proposals I read start with the seller talking about his company. He usually opens with details such as how long the company has been in business, who his clients are, what awards he has won, how innovative he is, etc.
But your prospects don’t care about that. They really don’t.
What they want to know is, “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
- The value in meeting those objectives
You want to place all of that information on the first page in order 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 their situation, what they want to accomplish, and how that will affect their 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 the proposal.
For example, I use a heading for each of the three points on the first page (Situation Summary, Key Objectives, and Value). I also use headings for the remaining items, such as Solution, ROI, Guarantee, and Investment.
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
Have you ever watched an infomercial? Did you notice how they make liberal use of endorsements and testimonials?
You can do the same thing in your proposals. You can sprinkle them throughout and include them in each section other than on 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 the entire proposal.
4. Address the Risk Factor
Most new prospects will have some hesitation about moving forward with your solution, especially if you are unknown to them.
Be proactive and address the potential risk by outlining how you will reduce their risk. I usually do this by offering a guarantee on the services I offer.
You can do the same. Perhaps a trial offer, a money-back guarantee, or some other offer that will help you mitigate any risk issues your prospect is dealing with.
5. Keep It Brief
One mistake many people make is including too much information in their sales proposals. When I acquired my first client more than a decade ago, I asked her what factors influenced her decision, and she said, “Your proposal was short and easy to read, and it addressed everything I was looking for.”
Apparently, one sales training company sent her a 24-page proposal. Twenty-four pages! Who has time to read that?
I strongly suggest limiting your proposals to three or four pages. You can pack a lot of information onto four pages; the key is to include only necessary relevant information.
6. Conclude with a Specific Call to Action
The worst way to finish a proposal is to say something like this: “If you have any questions, give me a call.”
I used to do that, and my re-connection ratio was brutal. Now I get agreement on the next steps before I send a proposal, and my ability to re-connect with prospects is almost 100%. Here is what I say in the last line of my proposals:
“Mike, as discussed, I will call you next Tuesday morning at 10:15 a.m. to review this proposal and to discuss the next steps.”
7. Use a P.S.
Research has shown that most people will read a P.S. in a sales letter. I typically use a testimonial here, and I try to use one that relates to the prospect’s company, industry, or goals they want to accomplish.
By the way, you can also use these steps when a prospect says, “Send me information.” Rather than sending them a marketing brochure or product catalogue, create a kick-ass sales proposal.
A well-crafted sales proposal will not only help you stand out from the competition, but it will also help you close more business, capture more sales, and make more money.