7 strategies for writing a winning sales proposal
Reading time: about 7 min
Posted by: Lucid Content Team
Sales proposals are a vital part of closing deals. Yet too often, sales orgs don’t know how to write winning sales proposals and lose opportunities as a result.
Whether you’re a rookie salesperson or a veteran, apply the following strategies to your proposals to avoid costly mistakes and elevate your sales game.
1. Be brief
The longer your proposal, the less likely your prospect will finish it. For better or for worse, people have short attention spans and won’t take the time to slog through a dense proposal. So keep your proposal short and to the point.
A typical proposal should fall somewhere between 8 and 20 pages max. While some argue that one or two pages are enough, this length might not be realistic for many deals. The right proposal length will vary depending on your business, client, and offer.
The key is to make every word count. Look for places to edit, condense, or cut altogether. Once you’ve trimmed the fat and polished the language, you’ll have a stronger, more persuasive proposal to present.
2. Customize your template
Templates can help your team save time and ensure consistency. However, if you’re just cutting and pasting the same boilerplate information on every proposal, you’re missing an opportunity to connect to your prospect.
Good selling isn’t about you. It’s about your prospect.
Everyone wants to feel heard and valued. Customizing your proposal is a simple way to show your prospects that you understand them.
As you write your proposal, customize the presentation to the specific client. While some information will remain virtually the same across proposals, there are plenty of places to personalize the offer.
Focus on their specific problem. Show them that you understand their problem better than anyone else, and then explain how you can solve it better too.
The better tailored your proposal, the more effective and persuasive it will be.
3. Focus on solving problems, not deliverables
One of the biggest mistakes salespeople make is focusing too much on the product or service’s deliverables rather than the prospect’s problem.
Remember, selling isn’t about you. It’s about them.
In your proposal, emphasize your understanding of the problems they’re trying to solve, and then demonstrate how your solution is the best way to address those problems. This is much more compelling to a prospective buyer than a laundry list of features and benefits.
If you don’t take the extra step to connect those benefits to the client and their specific pain points, you are forcing them to do the work of figuring out how your solution will serve them. And that’s a recipe for a lost deal.
4. Give them options
Traditional proposals offered one solution. But you could be leaving money on the table if you don’t provide multiple options.
For best results, propose three solutions at different price levels. This strategy gives you an advantage because it allows you to offer a range of prices, including a higher-tier offer (which may not have been possible in a one-offer proposal).
Additionally, by giving your prospective client multiple options within one proposal, they are less likely to shop around at your competitors. This effectively sets you up as your own competition, creating a win-win scenario for you. Plus, when they have options, prospects feel more satisfied with their ultimate decision because they had more information and context when making their choice. In fact, merely giving them a comparison between solutions at different tiers often leads to closing deals at a premium price.
By weighing each solution at various price points, the prospect can better gauge the value of the solutions you’re offering and feel more confident in the one they choose.
5. Order prices high to low
If you’re writing a proposal, chances are that your solution has enterprise-level costs, so even your lowest priced offer may bring initial sticker shock for your prospect.
One strategy to avoid scaring them off (or leaving them with increasing dread) is to list your price points from highest to lowest.
By starting with your most expensive option and working your way down, you avoid escalating an initial adverse reaction. On the other hand, if you start low and work your way up to your highest priced solutions, your prospect may feel increasingly defensive (and less likely to close the deal with you).
Though simple, this psychological strategy can go a long way toward cultivating positive reactions to your proposal.
6. Use visuals
Human beings are visual creatures. The brain processes images 60,000 times faster than text. Use this to your advantage.
Not only do visuals break up the monotony of a text-heavy proposal document, but they can communicate information faster and more effectively at the same time. In fact, presentations using visual aids were found to be 43% more persuasive than unaided presentations, according to a study by the University of Minnesota.
Include relevant visuals such as graphs, flowcharts, or tables to present data and break down complex ideas. These visuals might include current and future state diagrams, a project roadmap, or documentation illustrating how a solution will be implemented.
Keep in mind that any visuals you use should look professional and on brand. Coordinate color schemes, fonts, and graphics so your overall proposal is cohesive and your organization appears more capable and credible.
Lucidchart helps busy sales teams craft beautiful and professional visuals quickly and efficiently. Take your proposal game to the next level and start a free trial today.
7. Keep it simple
Our brains are wired to prefer simplicity and ease of thinking. This preference is called cognitive fluency (or processing fluency) and influences how we make decisions and judgments every day. In other words, we trust people and things that feel familiar or straightforward to us.
And it is this bias that can make or break your proposal.
If your proposal is dense, hard to read, or hard to understand, prospects will be less likely to buy from you. They have to work harder to get the information and evaluate it. To avoid this reaction, make sure your proposal is simple. You might try:
- Eliminating or replacing technical jargon with more natural layman’s terms.
- Adding visuals to break down complex topics.
- Making connections for the prospect (so they don’t have to) regarding their problems and your solutions.
- Organizing your proposal into sections with clear titles and headlines.
- Making the proposal available in both digital and print versions for easy access and sharing.
- Adding a clear call to action or stated next steps, so the prospect knows what to do.
By reducing the mental work for your prospect, you increase your chances of landing the deal.
Use Lucidchart to nail your sales proposals
While Lucidchart can’t write your proposals for you (sorry!), it can make the process easier and more effective.
Draft your charts, diagrams, and other visuals right in Lucidchart and then share your insights with prospects through whatever platform they prefer. Lucidchart integrations let you quickly embed visuals in Microsoft Office, G Suite, and other programs so you can put the proposal directly in the prospect’s hands.
Whether you need to create compelling visuals to illustrate your data and emphasize key points or map out organizational relationships to identify key stakeholders and decision makers, Lucidchart helps sales teams create proposals that look good and get in front of the right people.
Start diagramming with Lucidchart today—try it for free!Sign up free
Sign up to get the latest Lucidchart updates and tips delivered to your inbox once a month.Subscribe to our newsletter
Lucidchart is the intelligent diagramming application that empowers teams to clarify complexity, align their insights, and build the future—faster. With this intuitive, cloud-based solution, everyone can work visually and collaborate in real time while building flowcharts, mockups, UML diagrams, and more.
The most popular online Visio alternative, Lucidchart is utilized in over 180 countries by millions of users, from sales managers mapping out target organizations to IT directors visualizing their network infrastructure.