How to Prepare a Sales Proposal

Before a customer will agree to a meeting, he may request to see a sales proposal.
Before a customer will agree to a meeting, he may request to see a sales proposal. (Image: Goodshoot/Goodshoot/Getty Images)

Sales proposals are designed to get existing customers to buy more and convert new prospects into customers. When competition for customers in the business-to-business arena is fierce, the customer may request a written proposal or your management team may decide that a written sales proposal is a way to position yourself ahead of the competition. To accomplish this goal, your proposal should identify a problem or a potential problem that your prospect has and how you can solve it. Then, your proposal convinces the prospect that your company is his best option for addressing this problem.

Things You'll Need

  • Pen
  • Paper
  • Computer
  • Statistical reports

Review the guidelines of the Request for Proposal carefully if your sales proposal is being generated for this purpose. Follow the guidelines outlined or it could get your proposal thrown in the trash.

Choose a theme to weave throughout your proposal. Pick a successful experience with a similar customer and use that to illustrate the points that you make throughout the proposal. Make an effort, however, to use your customer's name and business name more than your own business name and those of examples you are using.

Write an introduction. Introduce the problem the customer faces or the need that he has. Describe his business and the industry he operates in to show him that you understand his business model and the world in which he does business.

Define the problem the prospect is facing in depth. Study your customer's industry so that you can pinpoint the hot-button issues that he is facing in dealing with this problem. You may uncover issues that he may not have even foreseen.

Explain the opportunity that you have created to address the customer's problem. Tell the prospect about your products or services. Give details on the scope of work that you plan to do to address the issue your customer is facing. Avoid using jargon that he may not be able to understand. Explain concepts that may be familiar amongst your industry peers but not to customers.

Detail the benefits of your products and services in terms of achieving your customer's goals. Calculate the financial benefits of doing business with you.

Explain why your customer needs you and not your competition to solve this problem. After thoroughly stating your case for you vs. your competitors, explain the cost for completing the task. Emphasize the benefits throughout this section to offset the shock of pricing.

Use the summary for the hard sell. Summarize all the points that you have made in your proposal. Restate why you are the best choice and the benefits that the customer is going to get from working with you. Tell him how to take advantage of this benefit, such as calling and setting up a meeting.

Edit your proposal. Break up sections into smaller four- to five-line paragraphs, making it easier for your reader to digest. Use 10 to 12 point font size so that you won't distract the reader with any font issues.

Add section headings at the points in which you switch subjects in your proposal. For example, when you switch from the scope of work to the benefits of working with you, add a section heading between them. Use them as introductions and sales tools. For example, the headline "A Cost Reduction Strategy" both introduces that you will be speaking of benefits in the next section as well as giving away a benefit that will interest your reader.

Add any charts of visual graphics that will help to illustrate the points that you have made in the proposal. Add a table of contents to help the customer find each section of the proposal.

Package the sales proposal with a cover page. Include your contact information and the title of the proposal. Print and bind the proposal so that the customer can easily flip through.

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