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VOL. 41 | NO. 41 | Friday, October 13, 2017

Here’s how to ease pain of sales proposals

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You put so much time and energy into getting a prospect to agree to a meeting, preparing for that meeting, pitching your services and gaining agreement from the prospect to consider buying. So why, all too often, is so little time spent on the sales proposal itself? It’s like running the ball to the 10-yard line and then sitting down on the field, which inconsequentially, is essentially what my team did this past Sunday.

Consider these top reasons most sales proposals fail.

Many salespeople procrastinate proposal development because it isn’t a task they love; in fact, it can be counterintuitive to many a salesperson’s love of getting out of the office and building relationships. Ironically, the more you procrastinate proposal development, the more proposals you’ll have to draft.

Numerous studies draw correlations between the timeliness of proposal delivery and higher close ratios. When you strike while the iron is hot, you’re putting a proposal in front of your prospect when they’re most enthusiastic about your conversation. So, draft your proposal as close to the meeting as possible. An added benefit is that you’ll cut your proposal development time by at least 10 percent, as the conversation will be fresh on your mind.

No matter how well written, proposals that feel like a template get tossed. Show you understand your prospect’s unique challenges and what they need from you, and you’re more likely to earn their interest. Lead with their needs before covering your qualifications, and demonstrate your desire to put them first.

Focusing your proposal too heavily on what you’re offering can be a fast track to file 13. Put more emphasis on the client’s needs in your proposal; like anyone, they seek to be understood.

After outlining your prospect’s needs, then cover the project objectives, your proposed approach, the expected value, and then your capabilities. Never use boilerplate capabilities language. Customize it based on your differentiators that have resonated most with your prospect.

Many proposals stall due to a prospect’s delay in decision making. Most are overwhelmed with the day to day of operating their business.

Making a decision on your proposal isn’t likely top of their list, so outline the consequences or risk of not taking action quickly.

Determining the right level of detail can be challenging, and one size doesn’t fit all.

Consider the audience that will be reading your proposal. If they are analytical and get mired in the details, then spell it all out.

For big-picture visionaries, avoid the weeds.

Typos are a death sentence for any proposal. Get one or two other sets of eyes on it to both proof and poke holes.

To develop a sales proposal that gets read, inspires confidence and advances the sales process, invest the necessary time.

Lori Turner-Wilson, CEO and founder of RedRover Sales & Marketing Strategy, can be reached at redrovercompany.com.