On-brand sales proposals: think outside the fishbowl

Even the best sales proposal templates you find online have a certain generic quality to them.

The truth is, if you really want to stand out from the competition when you’re responding to an RFP, you need to make an investment of either time or money creating:

  1. a proposal template that reflects your brand (rather than the brand of whatever site you may have downloaded it from), and

  2. more than just one proposal template: if you’re targeting more than one vertical market, you need proposal templates that fit.

It’s a pretty simple equation that gets even more simple if you’re using an online sales proposal tool to build, store, send and track quotes.

Branded sales proposals: they’re not about you

It’s tricky: you need to create a sales proposal template that’s on-brand — that supports your mission and your values — but needs to make sense to people who may have never heard one word about your brand.

The key thing is thinking outside the fishbowl. Most of us are so immersed in our own business and our own brand that we’re unable to effectively put ourselves in the position of our prospects, who live very much outside our business and brand.

Unless you’re a highly skilled designer and have the ability to somehow forget everything you know about your business and brand, the best course of action is to get professional help. (No, not therapy — help from a professional proposal designer or agency.)

A small investment in professional design for your sales proposal templates can deliver massive returns. The right designer should be able to deliver in a day what would take a non-designer weeks to build.

So instead of responding to an RFP, create one: “Sales proposal designer needed!” Provide them with information on your business goals, your company’s products and mission, and the markets you serve, and let them take it from there.

Ideally, you’re using an online sales proposal tool (cloud-based configure price quote software) and can then populate your platform with professional proposals of all kinds.

And — because a professional designer thinks outside your fishbowl by default — you’ll know that each template has the required “outsider’s perspective” that will make them more relevant to your prospects.

Many markets, many fishbowls

While it’s important to think outside the fishbowl of your own brand when you create a sales proposal, it’s also equally important to dive into the fishbowls of the prospects you’re serving.

Your prospects in healthcare likely have very different missions and brands than prospects in high finance. The former is most often about serving patients, improving care, and increasing efficiency, while the latter is about savvy investing, improving portfolios, and increasing returns.

It takes more than just different colored sales proposal templates to capture the full interest of these different types of prospects. Ideally, your RFP responses have infographics, customer quotes, and other details that speak directly to the market you’re targeting.

In addition to simply storing these templates, an online sales proposal tool can store product and pricing configurations that target a vertical as well.

This isn’t to say that you’ll want to be using a one-size-fits-all approach for products and pricing presented to every customer in any given vertical market. But you will likely have some clear winners from previous sales that will make sense for new prospects, too. And if you’re using a system like CPQ — especially if you have integrated CPQ with CRM — presenting a proven offer in a targeted template is as easy as a few clicks. 

It’s easy to get lost in our own brands and swim circles in our respective fishbowls. And while some people used to think that business success was all about “thinking outside the box,” in our opinion it’s more helpful and effective to think outside the bowl.