You spend a lot of time hiring the right salespeople, but how much training are you providing them after they’ve been hired? While you may have gone through some of your organization’s basic rules and policies, have you actually sat down and given them valuable lessons about writing sales proposals? If not, chances are pretty high that your company’s proposals aren’t extracting much value.
6 Tips for Empowering Your Proposal Writers
Not every writer can be a salesperson. However, any skilled salesperson can be trained to write quality proposals. In other words, if you’ve hired salespeople with actual sales knowledge and skills, you can also equip them to craft killer proposals that generate leads.
Let’s check out a few of things you need to focus on.
1. Focus on the Prospect
The very first concept your salespeople must grasp is that a proposal is never about them (or even the brand or product). It’s always about the individual on the receiving end.
If a prospect opens up a proposal and the first three paragraphs are about why your company is so great and what value you bring to the table, they’re going to hit the delete button and move on.
There will be plenty of space in the proposal to discuss why your business is so wonderful, but the opening page is not the place for this. The beginning of every proposal should start by discussing the prospect and the pain points they’re experiencing. This makes the story about them so they’ll keep reading.
2. Give Salespeople the Right Tools
Quite frankly, proposal writing isn’t very fun. Most salespeople are outgoing, gregarious individuals who would prefer to speak face-to-face with prospects rather than pecking away at a keyboard in an office. Unfortunately, that’s not always possible in today’s business world. Prospects are often dispersed around the world and the first connection point happens via proposals. Therefore, your salespeople need the right tools or they’ll lose focus.
Ideally, your team needs a configure, price, quote (CPQ) software. CPQ software reduces proposal writing time, automates quoting, and streamlines manual tasks that are time-consuming and laborious. By doing your salespeople the favor of speeding up the process, you motivate them to accomplish more.
3. Establish Proof With Data
When writing sales proposals, you have to remind your salespeople that there are two major components in play: storytelling and factual proof. These two concepts obviously play off each other, but really work on emphasizing the importance of data and statistics.
Businesses make decisions based on facts. If you’re able to present logical points based on proven data, you’re much more likely to earn the right to be heard than if you simply throw out unsubstantiated claims. This may seem obvious to you, but it’s imperative that you reiterate the value of data when training your proposal writers.
4. Emphasize the Three C’s
When training proposal writers, enforce the idea of the “Three C’s.” These are: concise, consistent, and clear. If your writers do these three things well, they’ll have a strong foundation upon which to build.
The first C – concise – says proposals should always aim to include the most information in the least amount of space as possible. “Your client may want to know how you'll approach their challenges, but they typically want only enough detail to make the decision,” sales consultant Mike Shultz explains. “They do not want pages of technical jargon detailing every task you'll complete on their behalf.”
The second C – consistent – refers to the demand for a coherent and reliable value proposition throughout the proposal. Everything should point back to one key point – i.e. what you offer the prospect.
Finally, the third C – clear – is arguably the most important. “Explain your solution in plain English, and give only enough technical or methodological detail to gain commitment to move forward now,” Shultz advises.
5. Provide Multiple Options
Here’s a tip that you may or may not have ever implemented in the past. While most proposals offer a single option or solution for the prospect, this is generally a mistake. Every prospect is not the same and you can’t assume they are (no matter how much information you have on them).
Instead of offering a single solution, present three different options. This establishes a sense of optionality for the prospect and may entice them to reach out. When a prospect feels like they have choices, a proposal doesn’t feel as much like a sales pitch. It feels more like a mechanism for reaching a mutually beneficial agreement.
6. Always Include a “Next Step”
Finally, it’s imperative that your writers always include some sort of “next step.” Don’t confuse this with a general call-to-action asking the prospect to give you a call. The vast majority of recipients won’t extend this courtesy. They’re simply too busy. Instead, you need an extremely simple and actionable step.
If you’re sending the proposal digitally via email, consider incorporating an element that allows the prospect to schedule a consultation or meeting that’s convenient for them. There are plenty of tools that allow you to do this.
Another option is to actually include a contract at the end of the proposal. A contract shows that you’re serious about getting a deal done and proves to the prospect that the process won’t be unnecessarily drawn out. Most prospects won’t actually sign the contract, but it serves as tangible evidence that you’re ready to get to work.
Try iQuoteXpress Today
At iQuoteXpress, we understand the complexities involved with sales proposals and quoting. If you’re looking for a way to arm your team with valuable resources that streamline these processes and make it easy to engage prospects, then you’ve come to the right place.
Our CPQ solution has been shown to reduce proposal writing time by as much as 50 to 75 percent. If you’re interested in learning more, then please contact us today and request a free demo. We look forward to speaking with you in more detail!