What Makes a Successful Proposal?
There are a number of posts and websites that can give you their magic formula for writing a sales proposal (we even have a few you should check out). To be truly effective you must ensure your proposal is customer-centric and personalized to speak directly to the prospects need.
According Mike Schmidtmann, Peer Group Facilitator and Business Coach at Trans4mers, there is a simple formula to use when writing a proposal to ensure the proposal is focused on the customer. He calls this the “I/U Ratio.” This simple formula will ensure the proposal focus is on the customer versus the reseller.
Your proposal should strive to answer the following 3 questions:
- What are the business problems the customer faces?
- What is the answer to solve the problem?
- What benefits does the customer gain from your solution?
How do you get the answers to these questions? Having a strong qualification and discovery process in place should allow you to know what questions to ask, when. Just having one in place is not a guarantee to success. You and your sales team must follow the process and use the information gained to convey to the customer that you hear them and your proposal solves their pain. One such way to do this is in the form of an Executive Summary.
The Executive Summary is many times, your first introduction to a number of stakeholders in your prospective buyer’s organization. As noted in the post, “Anatomy of a Winning Executive Summary,” this may be the only touch you have with key executives as it’s impossible to meet with every decision-maker involved in your project. The Executive Summary is considered by many as a mini-version of the proposal that key stakeholders have the time and capacity to read. This may be one of the few opportunities you get to convince your prospect that you have the ability to handle the details of their project, and that you can do it in a manner that enables the achievement of business goals. In some cases, the Executive Summary is THE key component to the proposal. Provide a compelling executive summary and your reader is likely to continue reading.
Proposal Creation Automation and its Benefits
Automating proposal generation means you have a consistent document. Using the Microsoft suite, SalesDoc Architect (SDA) can easily turn a configuration from a manufacturer’s CPQ tool into any number of customer-facing sales documents – including a customized proposal tailored specifically to your customer’s needs. By including rules and workflows in your automation you ensure that certain elements of a configuration and proposal are not forgotten.
Automating the generation of a proposal – or any sales document – removes the rote, clerical activities, saving lots of time.
- Ensure consistency without the document sounding too boilerplate (like you’ve handed the same proposal to every prospect in town).
- Generate a consistent proposal based on findings from the qualification and discovery process.
- By automating the input of the discovery process, you custom tailor the executive summary to the individual needs of that buyer.
No need to worry that language relating to another product is inserted in the proposal. No superfluous information is included because the automation in SDA is intelligent enough to bring in only document sections related to the specific solution being proposed. Automation leads to a faster turn-around so you can respond to your customers’ request in a more timely manner.
Speed is not the only benefit to automation. By automating your sales and proposal process, you start to hone in on your customer’s needs and requirements. Your proposal will start to distinguish your company from the competitors so much so that there will be no equal comparison. You will start to sell upstream to larger accounts and build stronger, longer-lasting relationships with your customers.
Read how Sound, Inc. won $500,000 deals using SDA’s proposal automation