Top-Shelf Tip No. 118:

"Approach each customer with the idea of helping him or her to solve a problem or achieve a goal, not of selling a product or service."

Brian Tracy

Five Steps To Unbeatable Sales Proposals

Coming from a world where Requests For Proposals are commonplace (I've written more than 100 RFP responses), you either love them or hate them. Sure, RFPs are a chance to showcase your company's capabilities and earn the sale, but these proposals can be lengthy, involved and often there's a tendency to include in them everything but the kitchen sink.

Proposals are usually your last step to gaining or losing the sale. Sales and business blogger Marc Wayshak points out that when done properly, a proposal will not only help close the sale, but it can also help you add to the sale making revenues larger. Promotional Consultant Today shares Wayshak's five tips for writing effective sales proposals that can expand the sale.

1. Address the pain points. Most salespeople write proposals that focus entirely on the deliverables they can offer to the prospect. These documents often concentrate on listing the basic features and benefits of the product or service in question. But what about the prospect's needs? Begin your proposal by addressing the prospect's pain points and then lead into what solutions your company can offer to solve these problems.

2. Deliverables are not the key. Prospects don't pay for deliverables; they pay for outcomes and results. Use your proposal to articulate what outcomes and results the prospect will achieve as a result of the deal at hand. You can describe deliverables later in the proposal, but don't go into too much detail. Focus more on objectives of the program and how they will drive results.

3. Keep it short. Most proposals are way too long. This is a hindrance as the reader can miss important information. Keep your proposal short and digestible, as well as precise and relevant. Only mention areas that are important to the prospect, and don't throw in your biography or a list of impressive company accomplishments. Focus only on what's relevant to this prospect and closing the sale.

4. Give three options. Most proposals only offer one option or solution. This is a huge missed opportunity. Instead of providing just one option for the prospect, deliver three options for the prospect to choose from. This will accomplish two things. First, this allows you to upsell with higher level, more expensive options in your proposal. Second, you'll create a sense of flexibility for the prospect, which will dissuade him from shopping around for alternative options from other companies.

5. Make it a contract. Add an area to the bottom of your proposal to allow prospects to sign it as a contractual agreement. This will increase the likelihood that a prospect will do business with you. If your sale is particularly complicated, you can always create a more complex contract down the road. But ideally, your proposal will become the deal's contractual document.

Source: Marc Wayshak is the author of Game Plan Selling and Breaking All Barriers.

Compiled by Cassandra Johnson

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