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The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

6 Things to Include in Winning Proposals

winning-proposalA couple weeks ago, we were talking internally about the sales process. The topic of proposals came up, and the conversation became spirited.

I asked several colleagues,

What's the one thing you should always include in a winning proposal?

and they came back with amazing answers. These are tried and true solutions from winning sales consultants, so keep this list handy!

1. A Dotted Line

This one might sound obvious, but I can't tell you how many times I see proposals without a place for the prospect to sign!

-Kimberly Alexandre

2. Challenges and Next Steps

The proposal should frequently refer back to challenge(s) facing the client, and how the components of the proposal address those challenges.

A solid proposal concludes with a critical path of next steps, the dates those steps should be completed by, and who is responsible for each task or action on the list.

-Mike Anderson

3. A Critical Path

A critical path is a great way to show that you will continue working on their (prospect’s) behalf after they say yes.

-Stephanie Downs

4. An Outline of Expectations

You should always have an outline of expectations. What is the client expected to do to make this partnership a success? What must they understand or agree upon? The whole burden of success or ROI doesn’t just fall on you, so it should be very clear from the beginning (and agreed upon) what they must do in order for you to fulfill this partnership. 

-Dani Buckley

5. All proposals should Expire

Without an expiration date, the proposal technically would be good forever. The expiration date provides some incentive for the prospect to come to a decision, and will let you know when to follow up.

-Matt Sunshine

6. Don't Present a Proposal Until You Know They're Ready to Say "Yes"

The better vetted a proposal is before it’s submitted, the better the chance you’ll get the deal. Once your proposal is committed to writing and formally delivered, you may find that your access to decision-makers is cut off. So work hard in advance to discover every reason why the prospect might not buy your proposal, and tweak the plan to address every one of those issues as best you can. Do this before you deliver the proposal—because you may not be given an opportunity to do so afterward.

-Steve Marx

There are some common threads in the answers above, which means those are the places where you should definitely take notes. Close more proposals by following these six tips, and let us know how they work!

If you're interested in creating a critical path (and you should be!), download the checklist.

Client Engagement Critical Path Checklist


Topics: Sales sales process