How to write a great small business sales proposal

Ah, sales proposals. Some love them, some struggle with them, but they are always crucial to business. A good sales proposal clearly outlines what  you’ll offer your client and what they will get out of it. It also clearly spells out all the terms, conditions and fees of the sale. Sales proposals are important for both your small business and your prospective client’s peace of mind.

Make sure you take the time to discuss the situation with the potential client beforehand, so you’re crystal clear on their specific needs. If having a one-on-one conversation with the client isn’t an option, be sure to conduct plenty of research before getting started. Anything you’ve missed (which shouldn’t be earth-shatteringly large) can be fixed when you go over the proposal with your client. And don’t forget – it’s important to write clearly and concisely if you want your proposal to be taken seriously.

Here are the seven elements that must be included to develop a winning sales proposal.

1. Introduction

The introduction can be either in the form of a short paragraph at the beginning of the proposal, or a cover letter attached. Here, you’ll address the client and outline your reasons for contacting them. Explain how you discovered this opportunity, followed by a brief description of the potential sale. Be sure to show the client that you understand their needs and wants. Recognize the importance of this sale, and show the client that you understand the significance of working for them. Like a résumé’s cover letter, the introduction to a proposal outlines your intent, shows you’ve done your research and gets your prospective client interested.

2. Client’s Background and Situation

Here, you’ll point out the specific areas of the client’s business that will be impacted by this sale. Point out the current status of their company, including any current challenges that this sale will improve. Respectfully list the effects that these issues are having on the company and emphasize why the problem must be fixed. Show that you understand the problem their company is facing and that your goals are aligned with theirs.

3. Desired Results and Objectives

After listing the negative effects of the company’s problem, use this section to help your client envision the changes and improvements that will be made. When reading through piles of proposals, the client doesn’t want to waste time – state the results early on in the proposal and leave the details of how it will happen for later. Include a list of objectives that shows your prospective client what you’re going to do. This can be used as a checklist later on to be sure that all of the requirements are met.

4. Scope of Deliverables

This is your chance to knock your client’s socks off and prove to them that you’ll meet their needs. Clearly explain what will be delivered in your sale and why it will be beneficial. Include implementation plans, available support, and guarantees. If possible, outline your relevant experience as well as reasons why you’re able to offer a better solution than others (remain professional, though!).Give examples of previous success. Identify changes that will be made and use this section to validate and rationalize the sale.

5. Down to Details – Decision Criteria, Time Frame and Budgets

List all of the criteria that your client will use to make their decision. Include the client’s responsibilities and requirements. Also list detailed information on the time frame of this exchange and estimations of fees and budgets. Be sure that your expectations for time and money are consistent with your client’s. Include detailed information on payment terms. Be clear about where the sale ends, in order to avoid an exchange lasting longer than you had expected.

6. Next Steps – The Action Plan

Include information on the steps that will follow, as well as expected time frames, after the proposal has been received. Again, this section will help to ensure consistency between you and the client. Clearly articulate the value the client will get from this sale. Work in facts and figures specific to the client and highlight the return on investment and improvements to their bottom line. Prove to the client that the sale is worth it.

7. Closing

Include a concluding paragraph that summarizes the current situation, how the situation will change, and why this sale will benefit the client. This paragraph should be compelling, powerful, and motivating for the client. Thank them for their attention and end with an action statement of what can be done next in order to move forward with the sale.

Of course, with proposals come sales negotiations. We’ve got you covered there, too! Read what our GoForth Experts have to say about sales negotiations.

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