Building sales proposals are a critical to almost all business organizations, big and small. Some are more complex than others. Some are requested, while others are unsolicited. Regardless, I believe there are some best practices that are true for nearly all sales proposals.
1.) Assemble a “solutions team” to build the proposal
However, don’t go overboard with the number of people as that can ultimately slow things down. Include only essential people. For example, an internal resource such as a member of the marketing department, an experienced executive with some tribal knowledge, and obviously include those that interact most with the prospective buyer. Additionally you can include outside resources or consultants (depending on the scale of the proposal), who can bring valuable, fresh insight to the proposal.
2.) Truly understand your client, or prospective client
And make that clear at the beginning of the proposal. It’s important to show them that you have been listening; that you understand their business needs and challenges. Nothing can be more frustrating and dare I say disrespectful than making your potential buyer listen to an irrelevant sales proposal that doesn’t address their needs or challenges.
3.) Practice the presentation with your colleagues as much as possible
While practicing, try to put yourself in the prospective buyers’ shoes. Focus on the overall flow and clarity of the presentation. Remember that you aren’t trying to sell yourselves on your brilliant solutions, it’s about the customer.
4.) Proofread multiple times then have someone else proofread multiple more times
Then double, triple, and quadruple check your math. All the way through the process it is important to play devil’s advocate. Challenge your team members on the content or logic behind the proposal.
5.) Be confident in the solution you are proposing
Finally, recognize it’s OK to be nervous or excited, but remember that the person(s) on the other side of the table or computer monitor are people just like you, that commuted to work just like you, that took their dog for a walk that morning just like you, and care about the growth and profitability of their business just like you.
So have fun, be creative, take risks and learn from mistakes. Always keep the best interest of your business and the customer in the forefront of your mind. Be genuine, smile, and be personable. Let me know how your next proposal goes.