Docsify December 01, 2017

3 Easy Steps To Creating A Proposal That Really Sells

3 Easy Steps To Creating A Proposal That Really Sells

We’ve all been there. Weeks of negotiations, dozens of emails and phone calls, and you are finally sending that proposal to your prospect. What happens next? Well, it depends. If you send twenty pages of plain text, even if it’s the most beneficial offer on the market, the chances are you will lose the deal. But even the least competitive proposal can win if presented properly.

Research finds that over 90% of sales proposals won’t result in a closed deal. If you want to hit that remaining 10 %, here are some tips and tricks for crafting the winning sales proposals.

The Art And Science Of Writing An Effective Sales Proposal. How To Do It Right?

A sales proposal is a powerful tool in the arsenal of every sales manager. Oftentimes, it’s the proposal that makes or breaks the deal. Yet, it won’t do the trick if you fail to use it correctly. To win more deals with your proposal, consider taking the following steps when writing your next one. First of all, take some time to prepare.

1. The homework

  •  Make sure you understand the client’s requirements and can meet them. Study the request for proposal thoroughly (if there was any) or simply analyze the information your prospect shared with you during your negotiations. What are the goals your client wants to achieve? What are the expected business outcomes? Why do you expect the customer to take your offer?

  • Get to know your client. While meeting your client’s expectation is a good strategy, only by exceeding those expectations you can drastically increase your chances for success. Make sure to understand the real motives behind your client’s need for your product/service. The best way to do that is to ask questions. After all, just Google it! You will be surprised how much you can find out about a company by simply searching for it on the Internet.

 2. Writing the proposal

There is usually not much freedom left for a sales representative when writing a sales proposal: you are bound by the corporate standards and guidelines. Yet, there are still many things you can do to improve your proposal and increase its effectiveness without breaking the corporate policies.

  • Always provide your customer with the options. In sales, you can never play the “my way or no way” card. After all, it’s your customer who has to make the decision. So make sure he/she has something to choose from. Namely three options listed in a sales proposal are proven to perform best. Providing too many options might be harmful as well as they make it harder to make the right choice.

 Pro Tip: Place each of the proposed options on a different page of the document to be able to properly track the reader’s reaction to each of them.

  • Start with the highest price and work your way down to the lowest one. When providing several options, the power of comparison can help you do the trick. If you start with the cheapest option, offering more expensive ones later might subconsciously cause anxiety with your customers. Seeing the prices go down, on the other hand, brings a sense of relief and add value to the lower priced options.

  • Choose the words carefully. Words have a great power of persuasion. For example, choose the word “investment” instead of “fee” or “cost” to identify that the client will not simply pay the bills, but also see the value from this contract.

  • Don’t set price ranges. If you say that the project will take 3 to 5 months, the chances are your client will expect it to be finished within 3 months or less. So even if you manage to meet the initial pessimistic estimate (5 months), you customer will still be disappointed that you didn’t make that 3 months.

 Pro Tip: In some specific cases it is better not to use estimates or set the budget at all.

  • Keep it simple and to the point. Be concise with your proposal. Remember, less is always more. Respect your customer’s time and mind the attention span.

 3. Final touches

After the right words are all written and the document is properly formatted, take some time to analyze the order in which you will present your offer to the customer.

  • Make the first page count. The chances are your clients don’t really care about your company. What they do care about is how you can help them solve their problems. To grasp the reader’s attention jump straight to the point and show your clients that you care about their business too. So a brief summary of the situation and the expected outcomes will be much more valuable in this situation.

 Pro Tip: Never use a generic description of your company expertise and services. Rephrase and tailor this content based on the situation.

  • Create a proper structure within your document. In addition to keeping the proposal concise, break down the content into blocks, use headings and subheadings to make the document easy to scan and the information visible.

  • Conclude with a specific call to action. What do you expect your client to do after he/she has read your proposal? Make sure your client knows exactly what is the next step to your cooperation. No matter what is the answer, always ask for a feedback and talk through the document in person to make sure there is no misunderstanding.

How To Measure Your Sales Proposal Efficiency? Hands-On Example

By using Docsify to track the user interactions and measure the engagement with the documents you share with your prospects, you can get a deeper understanding of how to improve your sales proposal.

For example, you send sales proposal named “Company Presentation” which consists of 8 pages:

 Page #1 – Why you should choose us

 Page #2 – Product 1

 Page #3 – Product 2

 Page #4 – Product 3

 Page #5 – Price List

 Page #6 – Discount specially for you

 Page #7 – Guarantee

 Page #8 – Contact Us

The given chart represents the time a user spent reviewing a sales proposal sent with Docsify.

As you can see, the information within this presentation was well-structured and split into separate blocks to enable accurate activity and engagement tracking for different parts of the document. Such detailed statistics allow you to choose the right strategy when following up on the proposal. The time your prospect spent on each page speaks clearly about his/her priorities and allows you to understand what information might have been left out.

Namely, we can see:

  • The prospect simply skipped the first page of the document. If you followed the piece of advice listed above (about providing value to the customer instead of glorifying your company), it might be still useful to mention in your next conversation how your offer compares to the competitors and why your solution is better.    

  • There are only two pages that managed to keep the reader’s attention for the most seconds. It’s the Product 1 and the Price List. After that, the reader simply left the document leaving the discount information, guarantee, and call to action unnoticed. That is why it is important to highlight this information first of all when following up on such prospect.

 Pro Tip: Don’t place the price list at the last page of the document. Otherwise, you won’t be able to understand the reason why the reader left the document.

  • The prospect considered the Product 1 with the huge interest (judging by the time spent on the Page #2). That gives us an understanding of what the prospect really needs and allows us to further tailor our offering enhancing this product option for better chances to win the deal.

  • The prospect left the document after seeing the Price List. This speaks to the fact that the cost is higher than the prospect expected or simply doesn’t meet their budget limits. Thus, to retain this client you should follow up as soon as possible pointing out the discount he/she hasn’t seen and justifying the price you listed. Alternatively, you can offer an opportunity to reduce the price or highlight the cheaper options the prospect considered.

 Pro Tip: It’s important to consider that the time spent on a page might also depend on the amount of content and information on this page. That is why we recommend making every product/offer description standard for more accurate results.


The success of your sales proposal is determined mostly by its content and the time you spend creating and tailoring it to the needs of your prospects. Yet, your chances for closing the deal often depend on your ability to correctly interpret the data on prospect engagement with this proposal.

Docsify helps you stand out from your competitors by providing spot-on proposals highlighting what your prospects care about most. Schedule a walkthrough with our sales team or sign up right now for free to power up your sales process.

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