You have successfully guided a prospect through the discovery, presentation, and objection-handling phases of your sales cycle. Now it is time to seal the deal.
Do this with a sales proposal.
This document will remind them why they need your service or product, educate them on the pricing and buying process, and give them the jolt of inspiration they need to sign the contract.
After reading this post, you will walk away with an understanding of what a sales proposal is, along with knowledge of the eight key ingredients to include in any effective sales proposal.
Additionally, we will give you four impressive templates to look over to get your creative juices flowing.
What Is a Sales Proposal
A sales proposal is a written sales pitch that outlines what you will do for your clients and what benefits they will receive if they purchase your product or service.
It is usually written by the salesperson and delivered in the late stages of the sales process—usually after the presentation or demo stage.
To envision how it works, imagine an SEO agency submitting a sales proposal to a business.
In it, they might write about how they will increase traffic to the website, why the company should choose them over other vendors, and the estimated increase in revenue that will come from that traffic.
A good proposal will include any details that will help the provider win the sale.
These might include testimonials, statistics, or introductions to their team. Lastly, they should include pricing, conditions, and a call to action.
Why Do You Need a Sales Proposal
When a prospect asks for a sales proposal, it tells you that they are ready to buy. They are done shopping around.
All they need to do is justify the purchase to themselves and do their due diligence.
The proposal helps you do that.
At this point, you will have probably already had plenty of conversations with your prospect about your solution and their business needs.
However, all of that information is disorganized in their minds, and they may have forgotten some of your top-selling points.
A sales proposal gives you a chance to organize the need-to-know information and clearly present why they should choose to buy your solution.
A well-crafted sales proposal should accomplish three things:
- Educate the prospect about your solution.
- Give a convincing argument for picking your solution over others.
- Illustrate the client’s potential return-on-investment (ROI)
After reading a well-crafted sales proposal, the prospect should feel confident about their choice to make the purchase.
They have all the details, and they can easily pass the proposal around to other decision-makers. In other words, they are inspired to take action.
That said, taking time to craft a personalized and persuasive sales proposal for each prospect can seriously increase your conversion rate.
Solicited vs. Unsolicited Proposals
There are two types of proposals: solicited and unsolicited. Let’s go over the main differences between the two.
Solicited Sales Proposals
A solicited sales proposal is one that you send out in response to a request for a proposal by the prospect.
The prospect might ask you for one during a call, or they might issue a written Request For Proposal (RFP).
Sometimes, the requesting prospect will provide you with a description of what they want in the proposal. For instance, they might want you to go into detail on a specific set of features or to include some relevant case studies.
They may also give you formatting instructions for your proposal and evaluation criteria they will use to make their selection.
At times you might make a suggestion to a current client, such as: “I could create a landing page for you to go along with the social ads we’ve been running.”
The client might ask that you send them a proposal outlining the idea and associated costs. This still counts as a solicited proposal.
Unsolicited Sales Proposals
An unsolicited sales proposal is one you send to the customers without them asking for one.
You send it to someone whom you believe will benefit from your offer in hopes that after reading it, they will consider purchasing.
This could be someone you have demoed a few times or even a completely cold lead who matches your ideal customer profile.
When sending one, you run the risk that the client won’t read it, since they never expressed any interest in receiving a proposal.
Even if they do read it, they don’t have a set budget or plan to implement your solution, so your argument better be especially convincing.
However, sometimes an unsolicited proposal can help you break through the noise, since not many sellers are taking the time to craft one for a prospect who didn’t ask.
What to Include in a Sales Proposal
Alright, it’s time to turn that excited prospect into an actual paying customer. To do that, you can craft and send a personalized, persuasive, and interesting sales proposal.
While the specificities of sales proposals differ for each company and industry, they still all include eight main elements.
Let’s go over them.
1. Point out the Customer’s Pain Point and Offer Solutions
Through your discussions with the customer, you should have a good grip on their most agitating pain points.
Include these in your proposal, along with your solutions to those pain points. This will show them that you are capable of helping them specifically.
For example, a property manager might have mentioned to a PropTech salesperson that they are shopping for solutions because they are struggling to keep track of all of their documentation.
A savvy proposal craftsman will include this and really discuss how it’s holding their business back.
They will mention all the other negative effects of lousy document management, such as wasted time or missed due dates.
Then they will write about how their technology will solve this problem and how this will positively change the lives and business of the property manager.
When the prospect can clearly see how you will remove their pain points and how bright the future can be, they will be more likely to sign on the dotted line.
To really nail this portion of the proposal, you need to do some research prior to writing.
Have some in-depth conversations with the prospect during which you ask open-ended questions about what’s bothering them.
The more you know, the more personalized your proposal will be, and the more understood your buyer will feel as they read it.
2. Include an Executive Summary
An executive summary clearly shows the buyer why they need your solution.
It is the part of your sales proposal that provides an overview of the problems you will solve and the benefits you will provide.
This is one of the most important parts of your sales proposal.
When decision-makers ask themselves, “why am I considering buying this again?”, they can answer it with a quick 5-minute read of your executive summary.
Furthermore, being at the front of your proposal, it is your chance to hook them in and put them in a positive mindset for the rest of their read.
To craft a compelling executive summary for your sales proposal, include these five parts:
- The Opener: This is where you hook them in and get them excited about reading on. Talk about them and how their lives will change with your solution.
- Their Situation/Need: Summarize the problems that you uncovered during discovery, and that you plan to fix. Help them understand these problems by highlighting the repercussions of letting them fester. Mention how they hurt their bottom line and personal wellbeing.
- Your Solution: Talk about how you plan to solve the problem. It’s important to focus on the benefits your solution offers rather than its features—thousands of songs in your pocket vs. 100 megabytes of data.
- Evidence Your Solution Works: Use case studies, statistics, and data to convince the reader that your solution actually works. Also, touch upon why your team is qualified to help.
- The Call-To-Action: Close the deal. Talk about why they need to work with you. Mention the benefits of becoming partners, and finally, ask if they are in.
Keep each of these sections short and to-the-point. Each of the above sections can be its own paragraph.
Here is an example of a quality executive summary.
After an opening hook, it identifies the potential customer’s need and offers the solution.
It then provides an example of the solution in action, proving its effectiveness, and ends in an enticing call to action, like a miniature sales proposal in itself.
3. Introduce the Team
Introducing your team is a great way to build trust and camaraderie with the buyer.
It is nice for them to learn a bit about the people they will be working with.
To describe your team in a way that humanizes them and makes the buyer feel comfortable, follow these best practices:
- Include The Basics: Quickly touch upon the company name, its location, its business type, the leadership team member names, and the mission statement.
- Write About Expertise: If the buyer will be working with one person in particular (e.g., an account manager), talk about their specific industry experience, their journey, and the results they have driven.
- Include A Picture: We like to have a mental image of the people we are working with.
Also, try to inject some personality into the introduction.
If their main point of contact loves surfing on the weekends, share that fact. Similarly, if the team participates in special volunteering events, mention that.
Anything you can do to paint your team as relatable will help you connect with the buyer.
4. Identify the Deliverables
A deliverable represents the final output of your project; it is what the client will actually receive.
For instance, a writing agency might be hired to research and write an e-book for a business.
The deliverable would be the completed e-book. They are usually tangible. This makes it easy to measure whether or not you delivered on your promise.
Keep this section short. Bullet points work well here.
If you are delivering a multitude of results over a period of time, outline the timeline, as done below:
- March 7th – Submit a rough draft of the e-book copy.
- March 14th – Complete revision of e-book copy.
- March 21st – Send completed and designed e-book.
This section will also ensure that you and your client are aligned on expectations.
If they notice something awry or missing from this section, they can easily ping you to edit the plan before they make the purchase.
5. Add Testimonials
Social proof is a great way to instill trust in your clients. As many as 97 percent of B2B buyers cited peer recommendations and testimonials as the most reliable type of content.
When buyers see that other people and businesses have loved your product or service, they will be excited to join the fun.
Use testimonials in your proposal to create this social proof.
A testimonial is a statement made by a past client asserting the value of your service or product, like the one below:
If you have happy customers, all you really have to do to get a testimonial is ask them politely.
Then, in your proposal, make sure to include the ones from customers most similar to the prospect. This will help them see that people like them are benefiting from working with you.
For instance, if they are a VP of Sales at a tech company, try to get a testimonial from someone with those same credentials.
You could also find someone who was in a similar situation or pain point as the client.
6. Clearly Explain Pricing and Other Conditions
In your proposal, it is important to be straightforward about the pricing and terms.
Therefore, make sure to explain:
- what the customer gets for their money
- important clauses
- extra fees, etc.
It’s important to clearly lay this out to minimize the back and forth. To make the pricing pill easier to swallow, list a few benefits they will receive under the prices.
Also, you want to talk about pricing in a way that doesn’t send your potential buyers running.
There are several pricing strategies to use that will increase the chances your buyer feels comfortable and even excited about your price.
To start with, it is a good idea to offer more than one pricing plan.
When you offer pricing tiers, such as basic, enhanced, and premium, you give the buyer a feeling of control over the purchasing process.
Additionally, employ discounts with care.
When you discount, the buyer should feel like you are doing it because you value the opportunity of a partnership.
That way, they won’t consider your drop in price a declaration of a lower value product. So give a clear reason why you are discounting.
The way you craft your text is also important, so use hypnotic writing.
In his book, Joe Vitale declares that you can charm and persuade buyers on a pricing page using hypnotic words like free, love, easy, effortless, announcing, you, and your to entice the buyer.
7. Finish With a Clear CTA
Your Call-To-Action (CTA) will round out your sales proposal. The CTA tells the customer what action you want them to take.
In a B2B sales proposal, that action is usually to accept the proposal or sign the contract.
No matter what you want them to do, your CTA should be clear and singular.
For instance, “Accept Proposal” is better than “Give us a call when you read this and let us know what you think or shoot us an email.”
Here are a few tips for crafting your CTA for your sales proposal.
- Re-Assert Value: “Buy today and double your web traffic in a month” could be more effective than “Buy today”. Inject a reason (your product’s main benefit) they should accept the proposal.
- Make It Jump Off The Page: Put it in a unique font or color that makes it easy to spot on the page.
- Begin With a Strong Verb: Begin with the actual action you want them to take: a.k.a, the verb. Take the guesswork out of it and tell them exactly what to do.
Make your directions easy to follow, and customers will appreciate the simplicity.
8. Design It Nicely
A poorly designed sales proposal can be confusing, cumbersome, and overwhelming with walls of text.
Here are some design tips for your sales proposal:
- Include Your Logo Often: Your logo gives your brand a home. Whenever the reader encounters it, their unconscious serves up images of your company and the associated feelings (hopefully good ones) that the reader has about it.
- Play With Color Palettes: A color palette is a selection of colors that work well together. Try out creating your color palettes with the Coolors tool.
- Use a Consistent Voice: The design of the sentences in your copy matters as well. Are you professional and clean or hipster and relaxed? Pick your brand voice and stick to it.
- Leverage White Space: It’s good to have white space on your pages. It gives the elements on the page room to breathe.
- Use Short Paragraphs: Stick to somewhere between 50-75 characters when crafting paragraphs. If they are too long, the reader might lose concentration by the time they hit the white space for a break.
A strong design that makes the proposal easy and enjoyable for the user to read will go a long way.
Four Sales Proposal Templates
Let’s go through some examples of good sales proposal templates for different industries. We will tell you why they work and why you might want to use them.
If they are outside of your industry, you can still find elements to borrow from them to include in your own sales proposals.
Remember, it’s always a good idea to templatize your proposals.
That way, you can re-use the same one for each new prospect. With just a few edits for personalization, you can be good to go.
Software Development Sales Proposal
Software developers usually have to spend more time on their proposals than other fields. That is because of the technical and complex nature of the offering. Plus, the rollout can be tricky.
This software development sales proposal by Pandadoc overcomes these challenges in a couple of ways.
First, the sales proposal does a good job of painting a clear picture of the service and the development process while also setting realistic expectations by including these sections:
- A project overview
- Expected obstacles
- Reporting milestones
Second, its pricing plan is creative and easy to swallow. In its payment structure, you are paid at the end of each project milestone.
Third, it eases the buyers’ fears of failed implementation by outlining the steps like testing and support.
In those two sections, you can go into how you will test to make sure the software works.
Moreover, if you provide these services, you can talk about how you will train them and support them once the software is developed.
Consulting Sales Proposal
If you are selling your consulting service, here is a sales proposal for you. This consulting sales proposal template by Hubspot is great for a couple of reasons.
First, it includes the necessary elements: introduction, objectives, approach, schedule, and investment.
These cover the essential information a buyer will want to know from a consultant.
Second, it gives you plenty of opportunities to pepper in or demonstrate your expertise.
This is especially true in the approach section, where you can lay out your strategy for getting them their desired results.
In it, you can also discuss why your methods work and how they have for other clients like them.
Third, it provides the customer with a clear timeline of the project. This helps them visualize the project’s completion, which will make them more excited to work with you.
It helps you demonstrate your expertise while showing customers what to expect from working with you.
B2B SaaS Sales Proposal
A B2B SaaS sales proposal needs to do some serious convincing and reassuring. The buyer should walk away feeling like they see the ROI of the software and that if they have any problems implementing it, the company will have their back.
This B2B SaaS sales proposal template by Proposify does an excellent job of providing your buyers with all the information they need to feel comfortable making the purchase.
It includes sections like:
- Overview and goals
- About your company
- Scope and services
- Case studies
- The team
- The pricing
- Statement of work
- Signature page
The most impactful part of this template is the case study section.
A good software sales proposal needs to prove to the reader that other companies have found success using the technology.
It also gives you plenty of space to discuss your team and company so that the buyer gets to know you and your company as they read.
Marketing Services Sales Proposal
If you are selling marketing services like content marketing or PPC ads, this marketing sales proposal by Pandadoc will work for you.
Selling marketing services can be difficult. It requires a lot of deliverables to get to the final increased revenue result.
To keep your client from becoming frustrated waiting for results, you need to set clear expectations and timelines in the sales proposal. This one does just that.
It includes the following sections:
- An executive summary
- Situation analysis
- Proposed marketing strategy
- Implementation plan
- Costs and conditions
And since marketing services are each so nuanced and unique, the proposal gives you a loose outline that you can customize to fit the subtleties of your service.
It also gives you an entire page dedicated to revealing the research you have done on their industry and their competition.
This will show the buyer that you are building your marketing plan on a sturdy foundation.
Make It Personal
Whether it is solicited or unsolicited, a sales proposal is a great sales weapon to close a deal.
To make it effective, include elements like testimonials and team introductions that make the customer feel comfortable, excited, and certain about the value of your product or service.
Help them justify their purchase.
Whenever you can, personalize it to their needs. Talk to their specific pain points.
Show how you crafted a plan that is specifically intended for their company.
When you demonstrate that you put time into developing your plan, customers will look forward to working with you.