A sales proposal should always include a few basic elements, including deliverables, benefits and costs. This proposal should speak to your prospect or client’s needs and clearly outline your solution and pricing. While creating a sales proposal seems straightforward, it can be challenging to craft the kind of proposal that will ultimately win the business.

According to Stephanie Downs, a VP/senior consultant for The Center for Sales Strategy, it helps to follow a few steps both before the proposal and during the presentation. We share her best practices in this issue of Promotional Consultant Today.

Before the Proposal

Secure an assignment. During your initial meeting with a prospect, uncover their biggest challenge. What problem do they most want to solve? Downs recommends asking for a prioritized list of needs and then asking questions such as, “Is there anything missing from this list that we should discuss?” and “How soon do you want to see results?” Then, agree on an assignment that is on their most pressing list.

Develop a solution. Downs notes that partnering on a solution is a smart practice that will help prevent stalled proposals or decision-making delays. She recommends discussing the solution in detail with the decision-maker and key influencers.

Review the investment. Many sales professionals dislike discussing costs, but it’s important to talk about the investment before the proposal. It’s better to have this conversation before presenting than to get to the next stage and hear a “no.” Downs says you can always adjust ahead of time to better fit your prospect’s budget.

Outline expectations. In order to craft a winning sales proposal, it’s important for everyone to be on the same page. Be sure to discuss timeframes and deadlines and ensure that everyone involved understands the process. Downs also recommends discussing how success will be measured.

During the Presentation

Fill the room (or call) with the right people. Make sure all the appropriate stakeholders are present before you begin your presentation. By having all key decision-makers part of the meeting, you can address each person’s needs and concerns, says Downs.

Reiterate the assignment. You should also dedicate time during your sales presentation to go over the agreed-upon assignment. According to Downs, this allows you to use mini closes like “has anything changed since we last discussed these?”

Keep the conversation moving forward. At this stage of the selling process, the proposal should simply be a recap of what you have already discussed. There shouldn’t be any surprises in your presentation, says Downs. Use this opportunity to move on to next steps.

Ask for the business. The last part to crafting a winning sales proposal is to ask for a decision. Downs says you should always include a signature line, expiration date, your name and the proposal date.

Crafting a winning sales proposal takes preparation and personalization. Before you even write the proposal, be sure you understand your prospect’s biggest priorities. Then, during the presentation, you can restate what you learned from your initial conversations and ask for the business.

Compiled by Audrey Sellers

Source: Stephanie Downs is a partner VP/senior consultant for The Center for Sales Strategy.