SalesRight CEO Bill Wilson talks more about the relationship between proposals and trust on the Salesforce Quotable podcast.
AH, the dreaded sales proposal.
We know them, we loathe them by times, and we love them by others. They’re a great metaphor for what it takes to be a great salesperson: investing time, dedication and effort into your presentation is a sure-fire way of putting your best foot forward with prospects.
And yet, sitting down to write a proposal feels like valuable time lost. Let’s face it: writing proposals doesn’t have the same energy as completing higher-value activities like demos. Still, both are necessary pieces of the puzzle when it comes to closing.
Viewing proposals as a formality, not an opportunity, is the biggest mistake a sales rep can make. Proposals are a great way to differentiate from your competitors and prove your value.
Making the most of proposals requires clear focus and goals. How do you do this? By concentrating your efforts on three key areas of the proposal:
1: Clearly Define Opportunity
The first thing your prospect wants to see is that you understand them.
Don’t fill your proposal with marketing copy. Marketing copy has one goal: to focus on how great you are. At this stage in the deal, your prospect already knows your pitch, so your proposal should not sound like an encyclopedia entry on your company. Instead, they want to know what you will do for them.
Do focus on the opportunity presented by discussing your understanding of their current problems, business goals and path to future success. Incorporate your prospect’s language to create messaging centred on them. This may mean regurgitating information you’ve learned from them — and that’s great because it shows that you’ve listened to their needs and keyed in on the pain points they need help tackling. Show them the better version of themselves that they get by working with you.
Remember to reinforce that you’re on the same page as they are. Prove that your values align, and sow the seeds of a valuable relationship built on trust.
2: Create Concise Solutions
The solution you’re offering needs to be concise.
Don’t include everything that you offer in your proposal. Key in on the four or five features that your prospect immediately needs to solve their pain points. Any more than that is information overload. You can — and should! — be proud of the many offerings you can provide a prospect with, but your proposal should only outline the ones they urgently need.
Do clearly describe what each feature will accomplish for your prospect. These should clearly connect to the pain points you know need solving. Do you increase operations efficiency while lowering time investment? Close more deals in a specific timeframe? Complete number-crunching so data is readily available? Describing clear outcomes like these helps prospects see a future without their pain points — and who wouldn’t want to invest in relief?
Remember your proposal only needs to get them on the right path. Don’t worry about what you’re not including — they can (and will!) grow into your other offerings down the road.
3: Establish Value in Pricing
You have the opportunity. You’ve identified the solutions. Now, focus on your value.
Don’t undervalue the pricing section of your proposal! This is probably the section your prospect will spend the most time consulting, so it is critical that you present it in a way that translates your value. Your pricing should continue to tell the story of your quality and competitive advantage.
Do take time to ensure details are concisely and clearly outlined. Putting in this extra effort shows that you’re committed to building a deal in the prospect’s best interests. Not only will this position you as the right solution, but it will help build the trust necessary to build long-lasting relationships.
Remember never to undervalue your offering. If you have proven that you are the right solution, your value will be worth the investment.
A strong proposal should prove to your prospect that you’ve been paying attention to their needs and are ready to build them a better future. But before you even start writing, you need to make sure you ground your writing in the facts…
BONUS 4: Focus on the Bottom Line… Literally!
Before you set in to write a full proposal, send your prospect a pricing guide.
Pricing guides are a sales tool that allows prospects to pick the exact options they want in the deal. Sending this before you build your proposal will show you:
- The value your prospect is perceiving
- The future your prospect envisions
- The specifics your prospect is interested in focussing on
This is the cheat-code for building strong proposals. No more guessing what prospects want and feeling stuck in the writing process. Plus, your prospects will trust you more because this process makes them feel involved in the creation of the deal. It’s a solution that considers everyone’s interests and aligns expectations. What more can you ask for?
Click here to learn more about instantly boosting your opportunity to close rate by 30%.