Today we have a guest post by Mikita Mikado. Mikita is the Co-Founder & CEO of PandaDoc, a platform helping sales teams create, deliver, and track intelligent sales content to close deals faster. To learn more about simplifying your sales documents, connect with Mikita and the PandaDoc team on Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Your sales proposal is more than a list of your services and an appeal for a client’s business. Every aspect of it, from its font style to its grammar, is a representation of your company, the care and quality you put into your work, and the long-term value you can bring. Your proposal needs to be clear, concise, and accessible.
That’s why it’s so important to put serious effort into crafting thoughtful, purposeful proposals for all your clients. At PandaDoc, we have helped build and deliver thousands of sales proposals every day, so we have learned what works and what doesn’t. Here is what we have found to be the five essentials to creating sales proposals that close deals.
1. First impressions matter.
You know the saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover”? That doesn’t apply here. Prospective clients can and will discount a poorly designed, confusingly formatted proposal, and they wouldn’t be wrong to. Every aspect of your proposal reflects on how you do business, and prospects won’t bother looking at what’s inside if it’s given to them in a messy or lackluster package.
Don’t skimp on the cover and layout design and the table of contents. Make sure you use branded color schemes, your table of contents is an organized breakdown of the topics in the proposal and where they can be found, and the content is formatted in a clear, easily scannable layout with headers.
2. Make it personal.
There’s a vast difference between marketing material and a sales proposal. While you might circulate general marketing material around hoping to reach as many people as possible, it needs to be clear that your sales proposal is tailored to this prospect, and this prospect only. An effective sales enablement strategy that arms sales reps with the right marketing content is only a part of the process to win prospects over—the proposal itself should be personalized to fit each prospect’s needs.
Make sure you’re customizing the language to fit their business—use technical and industry terms where applicable. Include specific examples, such as screenshots of their software, videos, and testimonials.
Most importantly, address specific problems you discussed with the client, whether by phone, email, in person, or in their RFP. Be detailed, and offer specific solutions to their problems and needs. This is your chance to show them that you actively listened to their concerns, you understand their objectives, and you did your part to frame custom solutions.
3. Be actionable.
Deliverables are an important gauge of success, but ultimately, the results that come with meeting them are what truly matter. Offer concrete, practical objectives that you will accomplish, but really focus on the long-term benefits. Expanding reach to a wider consumer base, more effectively targeting prospects who will convert, improving engagement, driving more brand awareness, building trust and reputation—these are the kind of actionable long-tail goals that you want your prospective client to think about. Make your proposal even more actionable by including an eSignature so it encourages clients to take action, sign documents and close deals faster.
4. Transparency equals trust.
While it might be tempting to shoot for the stars, set realistic and honest expectations about what you will deliver and when. A knowledgeable client will know the difference between lofty yet attainable goals and the empty promises a salesperson makes to close a deal. Imagine a scenario where you’re waiting for a late train. Your stress is significantly reduced when you know right away that it will be late versus receiving incremental hopeful announcements that it will arrive soon.
Transparency applies to pricing as well. If you’re clear and confident about the value you bring to the client, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be forthcoming about the premium pricing for your services.
5. Bigger is not better.
Keep it short. Keep it simple. Make sure every testimonial, video, and bullet point you include is serving an essential purpose. If it’s not, it’s fluff. Take it out.
Ensure you’re delivering timely proposals and mitigate the risk of errors by utilizing templates and having an arsenal of pre-approved content that’s tailored for different business sectors. Templates will also make sure you’re using uniform branding and keeping your proposals on track. Using some form of document automation in your proposals will help create a streamlined process for getting them done better and faster.
Creating meaningful, thoughtfully-prepared sales proposals is an important way to stand out from competitors. If you want to create sales proposals that closes deals, you need to put real thought into your audience and your business, and make sure you’re crafting a true representation of the value you bring.