In the business world, it is critical to get a sales proposal — sometimes referred to as a business proposal — absolutely right.
It’s important to understand that a business “proposal” isn’t the same as a business “plan.” While business plans set forth new and emerging companies’ organizational features and resources to acquire funding, a business proposal is a sales document that includes an offer for a product or service to a potential customer.
Furthermore, business proposals are divided into two categories: Solicited and unsolicited. The difference here is that a solicited proposal is prepared after the receipt of some form of request from a potential customer, such as a response to an ad or some form of e-marketing. In contrast, an unsolicited proposal is sent out in a fashion similar to cold-calling.
Closing Deals With Great Proposals
It should be clear that solicited proposals are an all-important step in closing deals with potential customers. At this point, you know they need what you have to offer, and you know they’re interested in your company. To look at it from a different perspective, you could say that a solicited proposal is the ultimate sales tool.
However, simply because you receive a request for a product or service doesn’t mean you’ve actually closed the deal. Potential customers typically shop around and request several proposals from competing companies. That’s why you want to create accurate, timely proposals that stand out from your competitors’.
Tips for Creating Winning Sales Proposals
Keep the following tips in mind to write winning sales proposals:
- Choose a traditional format: Since we’ve already established that a potential customer will likely receive more than one proposal, it’s vital for yours to look professional. Be sure to use an established proposal format that includes everything from a cover sheet with your contact information to a clear listing of your costs and fees for the requested product or service. It’s fine to use proposal templates so long as you personalize them.
- Be accurate: Remember that if you use price ranges, your customer will only recognize the lower price and possibly try to negotiate it even further down. Instead of getting stuck in this trap, it’s always advisable to clearly state accurate prices. Then, if your customer needs to negotiate, you can discuss other matters, like amounts and materials, so your profit margin doesn’t evaporate in the drive to close a deal.
- Offer choices: While it’s not advisable to throw out price ranges, it’s perfectly acceptable to offer choices in the form of different service or product levels. With gold, silver and bronze options to choose from, customers still get the feeling that the choice is theirs to make, while you can help them make the right decision by listening to their needs and explaining the differences between levels.
- List benefits and solutions: Never forget to list out which benefits and/or solutions you’re offering. Here’s where great salesmanship comes into play. If your company is new and you’re offering an innovative solution to an age-old problem, state that clearly. If, on the other hand, your employees possess some of the greatest experience and craftsmanship in your sector, put that into a description of the pedigree and reliability of your products.
- Clearly state next steps: Finally, it’s crucial to clearly state how to take the next step if a customer wishes to accept, or has questions about, your proposal.
MANTEC — For All of Your Front Office Needs
With these tips in mind, you can begin to set yourself apart from your competition. To continue this journey and improve on everything from your customer relationship management to supporting your remote sales staff, let MANTEC help.
As a private, non-profit 501 (c) 3, we’ve been advising small to medium manufacturers in South Central Pennsylvania for more than three decades. To increase sales and grow your business, be sure to contact us today.