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The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

Why 75% of Proposals Will Never Close, and 10 Ways to Improve

Why 75% of Proposals Will Never Close and 10 Ways to Improve

The market's uncertainty has left many companies with an uncomfortable and frustrating bloated feeling in their sales pipeline.

Even before the pandemic, you could have easily convinced me that compensation plans changed radically and that people in sales were getting paid based on pending business. Every time I asked a salesperson how they were doing, I received the same response: "I’ve got a lot pending!”

Pre-pandemic, I reviewed over 500 proposals from various B2B sales organizations over the course of six months. These were all legitimate proposals, actually presented to a prospect or client. Based on those proposals, and the bloated pipeline many of you are experiencing today,  here's some valuable insight on how to close more business.

75% of Sales Proposals Don’t Close

2021 Media Sales Report - download nowOf the proposals I looked at, just over 75% never closed. Although there were several reasons why these proposals didn't close, one significant factor was present: a focus on the product rather than the prospect’s need.

Our 2019 Media Sales report also found that only approximately 54% of proposals contained specific business needs outlined by the client. When your proposal is all about you, it’s not very interesting or useful to your prospect. 

Let’s focus on improving your proposals and increasing your closing rate.

10 Ways to Improve Your Proposals and Close More Business

1. Track Your Closing Rate

Within 30 days after you present your proposal, it should close. Knowing your closing rate will make you more aware and allow you to spot opportunities for improvement.

2. Pay Attention to Detail

Make sure you’re using the right title for the person you’re meeting with. If you’re going to put your prospect’s logo on your proposal, make sure it’s the correct version of the logo. Check for typos. Obsess over the details.

3. Always Include an Expiration Date on Proposals

Include today’s date as well to show that it is current. An expiration date is also a prompt for you to check in when necessary.

4. Add a Footnote

Make sure your name and phone number are in the footer on every page of the proposal.

5. Include Next Steps

What happens after the prospect says yes? Show a clear picture of what is to come after the yes.

6. Address Pain Points

Clearly address the challenge the prospect is facing and how your solution will solve this. Salespeople who identify pain points are 28% more likely to close the sale and hit quota, says a research report conducted by Salesforce Work.com and The TAS Group.

7. Present Solutions

Lead with your solution, not your product.

8. Make Your Proposal Easy to Understand

Make sure your proposal is so easy to understand that even if someone did not attend your presentation, they could follow every detail.

9. Commit to No Surprises

Make sure that everything in the proposal has already been discussed and reviewed before your presentation.

10. Solve Problems, Don’t “Pitch Packages”

Win business and earn customers for life by addressing their needs and solving their business challenges.

There’s no reason your sales proposals need to get stuck in proposal purgatory. By making these changes, you’ll find that your prospects will get excited about how you can solve their problems and make their lives easier—because you’re clearly communicating how you can help and doing it in a way that gives them confidence in your abilities.New call-to-action

Editor's Note: This blog was originally published in august of 2015 and has since been updated.

Topics: Proposal Sales sales process