5 Must-Have Elements of a Winning Sales Proposal

Sales proposal

Sales proposals aren’t magic.

They won’t make your reluctant prospect suddenly say yes. They won’t save a bad deal. They’re not the secret ingredient to your recipe for success.

But sales proposals are essential. They may not seal the deal, but you can’t seal a deal without them. When a potential client is ready to move to the next step, you’ll need a proposal to communicate your quote and provide another reason to follow up.

The Must-Have Elements of A Sales Proposal

So how do you do that? Start with these five essential parts of a sales proposal. With a winning proposal, you’ll keep the ball rolling on the road to a sale.

1. Cover Letter

Start every sales proposal with a cover letter that gives a general overview of the entire document. Limit it to one page on which you clearly address what you’re going to do for them and name your price. This is your opportunity to explain the deal in bullet points.

Plus, cover letters look great. Include contact information (for both you and the client) along with company logos. You want the client to know exactly who this came from after glancing at the first page.

With an intentional design and clear writing, you’ll start your proposal in a polished way that leaves your client ready to learn the details, not frustrated because they don’t know what they’re getting.

2. Bullet Points

Some proposals tend to drag on and on. Not yours. Write your information in bullet points whenever possible. Bullet points break up the monotony of your details. Rather than make your client hunt for the information they really need, highlight it with a clear point. Then, if you need to explain it in more detail in another section, you can.

3. Pricing Overview

The price should also be easy to find. Don’t make your client search for a price point buried in the text. Clearly state your price in the first couple of pages — you can even include it on the cover page.

If you don’t charge a simple flat rate, write out the math so they see how you came to the total cost. Maybe you charge by the user so you spell out $ x USERS = TOTAL rather than just saying, “It costs $1,000.”

You’ll quickly make your client mad if they can’t find the price. So make it clear exactly how much it’ll cost them to do business with you.

4. Next Steps

What should your prospect do next if they decide to partner with you? Tell them! You want to paint a picture so they visualize doing business with you. They shouldn’t have to figure out how to proceed. They should just have to focus on the next step you’ve already explained… or sign on the dotted line.

Related: Field Sales 101: Follow These 10 Solid Tips for Success

5. Purposeful Delivery

Give your client a hard copy of your proposal. Deliver it personally when possible, or send it overnight.

When you ensure the sales proposal gets in their hands, you show your prospect that you’re diligent with your customers. This isn’t some document you just emailed on a whim. You were purposeful in crafting it and delivering it especially for them.

What NOT to Do in Your Sales Proposals

Not everyone writes a great proposal. Some proposals drag on too long. Others seem to miss the client’s needs entirely. Others come unexpectedly. Don’t fall into the trap. Here’s what NOT to do:

Don’t Add Fluff

If there is too much writing, no one’s going to read it. Your client will just skip to the last page to try to find the price. Yes, you need to have sections of the proposal where you explain details, but organize your proposal intentionally. Consider putting pricing on the first page.

Also, only include information relevant to the client. They don’t need to read long paragraphs about your background. They need to know what the product will do for them and how much it’ll cost.

Don’t Skip Client Requests

Not including the specifics you discussed with the client in the proposal is a big mistake.

Your proposal is a chance to show your client that you’ve been listening. Explain how you’ll address their specific requests if you do business together.

Then, when you give them the proposal, point out those areas so they’ll know that you understand their importance.

Don’t Send Without Approval

Don’t push proposals on people who don’t want them. If your client isn’t ready to move forward, a proposal won’t suddenly change their mind. Instead, offer a proposal as a way to take their temperature.

Say something like, “If it’d make sense, I’d love to send you a proposal.” They’ll tell you if they’re ready for it or if they want you to hold off. Either way, it’s a great opportunity for you to figure out where they stand.

Related: 7 Rules for Getting Past the Gatekeeper

Plus, you’ll also gain insight on the decision maker. If they say, “Yeah, go ahead and send the proposal. I’ll take it to this person to see if they’re ready to move forward,” you’ll know who holds the keys to the deal.

Proposals may not be magic, but they’re they perfect next step when your client is ready to move forward. You just have to be sure you’ve written them the right way.