Proposal documents are a fundamental sales tools in most B2B sales teams. Whether you’re responding to an open project tender or formalising an incoming lead, the proposal is an important part of the sales process. For high ticket sales with a long lead times it’s crucial to deliver proposals that engage potential clients and resonate with the reader.
Proposals are often viewed by senior decision makers, and sometimes you may find your proposals are reviewed by people you haven’t met, so it’s vital to get them right!
I’ve prepared my top 6 tips for writing proposal documents that win more business:
One of the best ways to accelerate your response rate is to have a corporate level proposal template prepared. This doesn’t mean that your proposal should be a one-size-fits-all but rather that you have a base document that can be customised, it saves time and provides consistency. To help you customise the template, highlight areas in the template where project and company details should be inserted.
Some parts of the proposal document will stay the same regardless of the client company, your About Us, Our People or Company Overview page and any pricing page. The Executive Summary and Project Overview can be left blank in the template or simply contain some basic information that can easily be updated. When using a template it’s important to always customise it with details of the project at hand, addressing stakeholder concerns and highlighting the key areas you can help.
When putting together the copy for your proposal, try to use the language your buyer uses. The approach will help them to feel that you speak their language and that you are aligned with their thinking. Also try to utilise words that promote mental images, words that will help them to see themselves using your solution.
For high ticket B2B sales, the sales process will require input from many decision makers at different levels of the organisation. You may meet with a department manager, but the sale may need the approval or buy-in of the entire executive board. The proposal document is one of your key sales tools for communicating with these high level decision makers. You’re sales representative may not have the opportunity to meet with the CEO or CFO but it’s likely that the proposal document will be circulated to them. This means you must write your proposal as if communicating directly to this audience — C suite decision makers.
Remember to address what the potential client is looking for, to demonstrate that you understand their needs. It’s a good idea to ask your prospect what their top 3-5 issues are when you’re meeting with them so that you can cover how you will resolve the issues in the executive summary.
Your business proposal may be read by people who have very little time to review it’s contents. That means you need to keep it simple! Focus on the needs of your client and don’t waffle on and don’t include irrelevant sections. A deep understanding of your target buyer will help you to identify what information is needed, for example if you are selling to Engineers they will probably want more detailed information, whereas if you are selling to a Sales Manger their information needs will be different.
Clarity also applies to the layout of your writing. Enhance the readability of your proposal by resisting the urge to use large paragraphs or pages just full of text. This can be overwhelming to the eye and difficult to process, CEOs may simply drop a proposal that’s too difficult to read. Instead break your text up with sub headings that allow for scanning. Try to present information in the simplest format as possible. This could means tables, graphs, bullet points, sub headings or lists.
The Executive Summary is the most important part of the document — some busy executives will only look at this section and the pricing, so never omit this part. It has to have impact, covering any potential concerns and addressing how you will meet buyer needs. This section should also contain your key messages and value proposition.
If your document is more than a few pages, it’s a good idea to utilise a table of contents.
It’s important to stay on brand with the overall look and feel of the document. It should have a similar feel to your collateral as that helps to build trust with your potential clients.
I recognise that most people send their proposals electronically, it’s fast and easy. If you have a large opportunity, you may consider printing the document and spending some time on the presentation of the document. If you are printing the document, invest in good quality paper (minimum 100gsm) and an impressive title page. It can also add value to create a package that includes brochures, case studies and any other relevant information.
Consider using client quotes and testimonials to enhance the credibility of your message. Your prospect will be more likely to trust a claim put forward by another familiar business rather than what you have to say about your own business.
The most important element of your proposal document is actually the follow-up. Your proposal document needs to plant the seeds for the next step in the sales process. It’s crucial to follow up with prospects within a week of sending the proposal.
Create a compelling proposal template with all the winning elements. Contact us!
Uber Marketing prepares successful proposal documents for million dollar projects. We work with clients to design and write copy for proposal templates, as well as assisting in customising proposals for specific projects. You can tap into our wealth of experience designing sales material to help you win more tenders! Contact us today on 1300 894 862 to find out how Uber Marketing can win you more sales.