5 Principles of How to Write a Winning Sales Proposal

5 Principles of How to Write a Winning Sales Proposal

The success of a sales proposal is often crucial for the sale itself and consequently for the success of the entire company. Read on to learn 5 principles that will take your sales proposal to the next level and impress your customers.

A sales proposal is a formal document that you use to offer your products or services to a potential customer. It aims to persuade the customer to schedule a business meeting or to directly place an order and make a purchase. What can you do to achieve this goal? Make sure you are clear about who you are approaching, in what way, and what action you want the potential customer to take. And then follow these tips.

1. Pay attention to the visual aspect

A sales proposal is a company’s calling card, so make sure you pay extra attention to the visuals. Keep your email as concise as possible and include the proposal itself as a PDF in the attachment. The customer should immediately associate the document with your company, for example through the visual side of the document. For this reason, use at least a letterhead. Even nicer and more practical is a template prepared by a graphic designer, in which you always just edit the information according to the client's requirements.

Sales Proposal Templates

TIP: If you want to approach a VIP client, don't be afraid to get creative. Send a letter and play with the graphics or paper texture, add flyers or brochures. Alternatively, turn the letter into a jigsaw puzzle or send a gift package straight away, which will showcase your product or service even better and definitely catch the customer's eye. Another option is to create a separate landing page on your website, fine-tune it perfectly and send the client a link.

2. Provide all information

Equally important is the content. While keeping the text of the email brief and just hinting at what you're offering, be specific in the attachment. Pay attention to the structure and clarity of the proposal:

  • Describe the product or service and its benefits to the customer.
  • Provide a visualization of the solution or a demonstration of the product to help the customer imagine it better.
  • Outline the workflow and what will happen after the order takes place.
  • Add a time estimate of how long each step will take and when the goods will be delivered.
  • Add a quotation, including a breakdown of what the price includes.
  • Don't forget the CTA (call to action) so the customer knows what to do after reading the proposal.
Winning Sales Proposal

Try to provide more than one option in the quotation. The customer will decide what is the best fit for them and get the comparison directly from you without having to look to your competitors. According to psychologists, people usually pick the middle option to avoid extremes, so list the one you want the customer to choose in the middle, between two other options.

Don't have enough time to write complex proposals? Check out these proven tips on how salespeople improve time management.

3. Give the Sales Proposal a clear structure

Formally, proposals vary depending on what you are selling. For example, if you are creating a proposal for an ERP system, it will be significantly longer than for a one-off graphic design job

In any case, the proposal should be well structured and logical, so that the potential client can quickly find what they need.

The proposal structure can look like this:

  1. Title (for example, Business Proposal for Company XY)
  2. Table of contents (for more extensive offers)
  3. Brief summary
  4. Description of the client's problem or situation
  5. The solution you are proposing
  6. Your results from similar jobs and references
  7. Timetable of when each step of the job will be done
  8. Price list
  9. Terms and Conditions
  10. A call to action - what the potential customer should do next, and contact information for the salesperson

Choose the points that are relevant to your product or service and build your proposal around them.

4. Think about the customer and tell them what they need at the right time

It's a huge mistake to talk about yourself in the proposal. Yes, you need to sell your product or services, but if you brag too much, the customer will quickly toss your offer in the trash.

Go about it from the other end. Show the customer that they are the focus of your sales proposal:

  • First, mention the problem or need they have,
  • then offer a solution,
  • only after that, describe your product.

If we consider the structure from the previous section, you practically talk about yourself only in point 6 - Your results from similar jobs and references. The rest of the proposal has to make the customer feel that you are genuinely interested in solving their problem.

5. Tailor the sales proposal to the customer’s needs

This involves personalization. The customer needs to get the feeling from the proposal that you are writing it only for them. It takes more time and effort than if you were copying a template, but it will all pay off. Use the customer’s name instead of a vague salutation, include the name of the company you are addressing in the text, and start the sales proposal with a paragraph from which the client immediately knows you are talking about them. For example, use information from a business meeting or a call.

CRM software proposal

CRM software will help you with custom sales proposals. It creates an offer directly from a deal stored in the system. In addition, you have all the information you have gathered about the client in one place. Most CRM systems offer a free trial, so you can test out creating sales proposals and other features for free with no strings attached.


What's next? Give the customer time and have a follow-up ready

Waiting for a response is nerve-wracking, but a potential client needs time to read, discuss with management, and think. Use this time to prepare follow-up steps for all possible scenarios.

If you and your client have settled on a rough deadline by which they will contact you, stick to it and don't remind them before then. Otherwise, wait at least a week after sending the proposal. If nothing is happening, do the following:

  • Remind them with an email that is concise and free of sales phrases, so you don't come across as wanting to sell at any cost. Just like when you are expecting a visitor who is running late and you text them to ask when they will arrive. At the same time, be nice and friendly to remind them that working with you will be a pleasant experience.
  • If the client does not respond to this email for several days, call them.
  • If the client doesn't give you a clear answer after a few weeks or doesn't get back to you at all, it's time to move on. There is no point in devoting energy to a client you feel is not interested. Instead, focus on other jobs.

Not every sales proposal ends up being successful. The most common reason for failure is the price. But sometimes the reason is that your products or services were not relevant or interesting enough for the potential client. In this instance, work on your lead selection.

The method of identifying suitable potential customers is called lead scoring. We describe how to approach lead scoring in a separate article.