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Gear Up for Success: 8 Steps to Get Sales & Marketing Cranking in Unison

Free eBook Gear Up for Success: 8 Steps to Get Sales & Marketing Cranking in Unison

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The official blog of AG Salesworks, Sales Prospecting Perspectives will give readers an insight to the challenges of managing a targeted outbound Sales Prospecting effort and team.

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Simplified Sales Proposals: Reduce Time Between Initial Proposal & Signed Deal

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I’ve always enjoyed writing. A lot of kids discover that they can throw a baseball, catch a football or run fast. I was armed with a big mouth, quick wit and the ability write, which as you can imagine, made me super popular in high school. (Thanks for the great gene-pool Mom and Dad) While it didn’t help me much in high school, my affinity for writing put me in a lot of English writing classes in college. Though I have forgotten a solid 95% of what I learned in college, one of my professors gave me a couple of writing tips that stuck with me and I think they are applicable to the Sales Proposal writing process. He said, “stay on topic, don’t try to look smarter than your audience and use consistent language throughout your work”.

Proposals go off topic by including unnecessary or non critical details. Non critical details distract the reader from the main point. The proposal’s main point is to show your prospect that your offering is something that they need. Some prospects, often times people that haven’t been your main point of contact throughout the sales process, analyze every line in a proposal. Don’t give them a reason to negotiate with you on some detail that will not affect the results of the deal. If it is not relevant, leave it out.

I have a colleague that lost a deal based on time zones. The prospect was based out of Boston and he works for a California based firm. He, for some reason, put in the hours that his team would be in the office. The proposal went to their legal team who immediately questioned if they should work with a firm in a different time zone. How much would the time zone difference affect the results? ZERO. But he included it in the proposal, it was questioned, and the prospect looked into other firms.  2 weeks later we had the deal. Two points here; don’t give the prospect a non critical detail to question, and this may be the only time in history a legal team was my best friend.

When it comes to your writing style, keep it simple. A basic practice is to think, “What exactly am I trying to convey to the reader?” Then, write that down. If you want to say that your solution is the best, say, “Our solution is the best”, not,“My offering presents the quintessential illumination to your problem.” You aren’t writing a physics journal. (if you are please disregard all advice given here) Try to put yourself in the reader’s position. No one wants to have to refer to a dictionary or Wikipedia to figure out what you are talking about. I’m not saying that you should dumb down the English language, but don’t crow bar fancy words and statements in to your proposal to make it sound more intelligent. People are buying the value of your solution not your elephantine locutions.

One of the last things I always suggest is to keep your language consistent from the 1st conversation you have all the way through the writing of a proposal. Don’t change the wording on things just because you are now putting them in a formal proposal. If it was a “product” when you introduced it, it is a “product” in the proposal and not a “custom management solution”. You want your audience to feel comfortable when reading the proposal and changing the terms/names of things doesn’t do that. The proposal is a recap of the discussions you have had leading up to this point. It should lay out the problem you and your prospect have discussed and then give your solution to address that problem. Using different language may raise questions and even confuse your prospect, which are two things that will delay the signing.

These 3 techniques have helped me in my proposals, and I think they will be effective for the vast majority of the B2B Sales proposals you will send out. I would like to re-affirm that I do not believe in relying on a proposal to win business. If you have done your job in the initial stages, the proposal should be a formality. A fancy proposal after a poor sales effort is like a monkey with an astronaut suit on. It may have a cool suit on, but it’s still a monkey.  Run a good sales process and then keep your proposal clean and simple for the reader. It should shorten the time from the initial proposal to the proposal close date. 


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