Proposals that pop—the ABCs of building quotes

Go ahead, write a business proposal. How hard can it be?

There’s no talent or training or process or program required to write a quote… just think about that pot of gold at the end of the sale, list the reasons why you’re the best, and you’ll soon have a proposal that’s like most we’ve seen: self-promoting and ineffective.

Unfortunately, there’s no “Proposals 101” in any college course catalog. Fortunately, there’s the best teacher of all—experience—and as CPQ professionals, we have lots of it.

Based on successful proposals we’ve sent and received, we now list the basics of building a quote. Sharpen up those #2 pencils, because class is in session… and it’s as easy as A, B, C.

building a quote custom template

A: Make Your Proposal POP

A custom template with your prospect’s logo or something else they’ll immediately recognize can get things kick-started. (Pitching a food services company? Include glossy gourmet glamour shots!) Don’t be just another Word doc to read: Be an experience.

And always, always, ALWAYS build a quote with the customer at the foundation: their logo, their business challenge, their industry, and details on their ROI will capture their interest more than any “we’ve been in business for 15 years” stuff.

B: You’re “gonna need backup”

Whenever and wherever possible, let quotes and testimonials from existing customers do the talking for you.

In business—unlike, say, mountain climbing—no one likes to be first. Your prospect wants someone to back up every single claim you make in a proposal, proof you’ve “been there, done that,” and that the successes other companies have enjoyed using you will soon be theirs, too.

And pepper your proposal with testimonials—if they skip to the end just to see your price, ensure you’ve got alongside it a testimonial from a satisfied customer who enjoyed ROI using your products and services.

building a quote structure

C: Hit all the right notes… but don’t drag them out

Steps A and B are essentially thematic—yes, make it pop in a customer-centric way; yes, include testimonials throughout—but C is all about structure. Don’t forget to build your quote using a framework that meets their expectations.

  • The intro: start with their business need—detail their problem, what that problem costs them. Keep it short/sweet, two or three sentences. Remember: most people skim and don’t read.
  • The hook: how your solution addresses that need. Detail your solution in lockstep with their problem. Their problem’s a flat tire? Your feature is a full tire.
  • The close: here’s where price comes in. Where you can, demonstrate how every $ they spend with you equals $$ or more in savings or productivity elsewhere.
  • And remember this above all else: you’re never, ever discussing cost—you’re detailing value. Unlike a price point, value is always more than just a number.
  • The rest: include details about your company, your experience, etc. but bundle this info at the close. They’ll be happy to read about you after you’ve sold them on you.

We kept our “Business Proposals 101” post short and sweet because that’s how we want you to keep your quotes.  Stick to these basics and getting new business can always be as easy A, B, C.

Class dismissed.