Putting together and delivering a sales proposal takes plenty of time and effort. But it is often essential, especially when there are a lot of digits after the dollar signs involved in the deal.
It’s oh-so-tempting to look for ways to save time, such as resurrecting an old “boilerplate” document and using search/replace to change the names. But anything that feels like a one-size-fits all approach is the kiss of death.
Here are five recommendations for putting together a winning proposal:
1. Collaborate with the customer. Working with your sponsor to build the proposal will ensure that you cover everything the buying team needs to make a decision. In establishing the amount of detail, remember that the depth needs to match the decision involved.
2. Consider all the stakeholders. One critical (yet frequently overlooked) part of a proposal is explaining how your solution will affect your sponsor’s stakeholders. For best results, review how your proposed solution will address their needs, fears and objections.
3. Develop a business case. Treat your solution as an investment. Here are four pieces of the business case puzzle:
- Costs. Of course you want to itemize the basic expense and capital costs of your solution. But go beyond that to include any transformation costs, such as changes to internal processes, staffing or training. Presenting a range of investments, from conservative to aggressive, adds credibility.
- Benefits. Review the benefits to be achieved, the way they’ll get measured, key assumptions, and any steps required to gain the benefits. Cover “hard dollar” benefits such as cost savings or increased profits, as well as “soft dollar” benefits like increasing productivity, eliminating redundancy, or improving morale.
- Timing. Provide a broad implementation schedule, with major milestones. Tie in cost factors and show any significant external influences that might alter the payback schedule. How long will it take to be fully operational? To deliver the expected benefits? Track the cash: When will they invest and when will the realize the benefit stream?
- Financial Impact. Show how and where your customers will feel the biggest payoff from your offering. Will it be the income statement, the balance sheet or both? How will cash flow be affected?
4. Don’t spring last-minute surprises. You want the proposal to help customers decide that investing in your solution is the best option for them, compared with other ways they could use the money.
The document should confirm your understanding of their needs, and flow out of conversations you have already had with your sponsor and or buying team. Do not include anything that has not been discussed and agreed upon previously.
5. Review a draft of your proposal. For best results, run a “discussion draft” (labeled as such) past your internal champion(s) to get their initial reaction and input. Incorporate their language; let them get their hands on it. Make sure it’s something they’ll willingly support before you submit the final version.
Source:A posting by Jeanne Buchanan. For more, visit www.criticalpathstrategies.com
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