Business proposals

How visual content can boost your business proposal

Whether you’re working to change direction in your engagement with a partner company, or pitching your services to a new local business, you’ll need an outstanding proposal to make the sale. What resources do you have at your disposal to make your proposal stand out from the rest? One option that many companies overlook when crafting their B2B proposals is the use of pictures and other visual enhancements.

How can pictures make your proposal stand out? They can make your proposal clearer, more engaging, and bolster the concrete details of your plan. Much like in their use elsewhere on the web and beyond, effective image use will hold your readers’ attention as they work through your proposal. Images guide and clarify where words leave things up to the imagination.

It’s time to start writing better B2B proposals. Organize and communicate your ideas with images.

Informative Images

There are many different types of images that you might use in a business pitch, including photographs, diagrams, graphs, tables, and even infographics. In fact, when working with other businesses, you have more options than companies that sell to the general public since other professionals will have both the interest and understanding to engage with technical graphs in a way the general public may not.

Using a graph to break up long stretches of text is a great strategy for B2B proposals because it can keep the reader from skimming the text rapidly by offering a seeming diversion from your body paragraphs. In fact, they are absorbing at least as much information by reading your graph, but the change in visual modality and processing structure is valuable from an attention and comprehension standpoint.

Another reason graphs are great for business proposals is that they allow you to make projections. It’s one thing to say that a certain outcome is likely based on prior events – but no matter the factual support, readers may disregard the assertion. When reading a graph, however, extrapolation based on clear data points tends to be more convincing. Offering an image, then, does something you words may not do successfully.


High Speed Processing

Visual content can also be used in your B2B proposals to provide order and organization, such as by using diagrams that grow more complex as each new phase of an operation unfolds. You might offer these diagrams each with an explanation, or you can put them side by side and show the progression using only images.

Most people would think that using only the images would be the less effective communication strategy in a proposal, but studies have shown that visuals are processed many times more quickly than text. If your reader spends significantly less time on visuals, it isn’t because they aren’t paying attention – it’s because they already have read and understood what they say. This can have incredible results in terms of selling power.

Images sell because they stick in the mind and that’s what will help you grab clients. The more clients can remember about your proposal when they think back over the review process, the more likely they are to choose your business over your competition. A proposal that leaves them wondering about the details or execution, on the other hand, may get shuffled to the bottom of the pile. With images, there’s no wondering – the process or product is right there in the proposal.


The Comparison Factor

Another way you can use visuals in your business pitch is for cross-industry comparison. Is there a way you can visualize how you do business and the services you offer as they compare to the lesser services of others in the industry? Since any good pitch should offer an industry review, providing a visual guide to the benefits of your services is a great way to angle this review.

Infographics are a great visual method for presenting this industry review since they cull all of the key data and show the relationships between them. Your infographic can show everything from technical product improvements for a particular product to industry awards and reviews. Presenting this information as an infographic is significantly more interesting than doing a standard side-by-side comparison with a chart and the increased complexity indicates your commitment to a job well done.


The Key To Completion

Using images in your business pitches isn’t just about flash – it’s a serious part of how you choose to present your company. That makes it vital that you make sure all the details are complete. It’s easy to miss a few things when using visuals – numbering your tables, adding units to your graphs, or offering price quotes alongside your technical diagrams. A thorough pitch will include all of these things and missing them may lead intended clients to believe you’re sloppy.

For each visual you include, do a full review: is something being measured, is a cost or timeline needed to describe this, is it absolutely clear what the image is about and what it’s intended to do? Go through a complete evaluation and ask others to double-check your work.

One effective way to make sure your images aren’t missing anything important is by giving just the visual to your proofreader without the surrounding context. If they don’t know what they’re reading, you may have missed a few details. Back up, reevaluate, and make sure everything is expressed clearly.


Correct Quotes Quick

Need correct quotes to go with your diagrams or your service descriptions in that business pitch. Contact iQuoteXpress to streamline the process and measurably improve your sales success.

Every business wants to know what they’re committing to up-front. iQuoteXpress supports this process through our configure, price, quote (CPQ) software as well as our innovative Quotation & Relationship Management (QRM) software. By synchronizing many phases of the proposal process, we serve the software as a service industry, helping you do your work more effectively.

Now is the time to learn how CPQ and QRM software can work for you. We’ll walk you through how we’ve transformed industry relationships and how we can increase your efficiency and boost sales simultaneously. Proposal by proposal, we help you do business better.

Send Me a Proposal: What to Do When You Hear Those Four Words.

For salespeople, much of a given job hinges on just getting heard. But simply meeting with a prospective client and talking through the situation usually isn’t enough to land the contract.

Most bureaucratic organizations want official sales proposals. So how do you respond appropriately when you finally hear those four thrilling yet dreadful words? We’re talking about “Send me a proposal.”

Gathering Important Information

When you get down to it, it’s astonishing how many sales professionals don’t do the necessary legwork before they submit a proposal. As soon as they hear that a company is interested in receiving a proposal, too many throw one together haphazardly and send it. We can call this blind proposal writing.

This is dangerous on many levels, but perhaps the most risky aspect is that you honestly don’t know what the recipient is looking for. A go-ahead to send a proposal is far from the same as getting your proposal accepted.

Don’t assume that because a potential client has asked for your proposal that the company’s going to hand you the deal. The hard part has just begun.

Start by gathering more information. As soon as you’ve gotten the go-ahead, gather your team and decide what information you need to proceed with a proposal. You have to grasp the full specifications and entire scope of the job.

The goal should be to get as much information as possible the first time around. Any proposal recipient is going to expect you to call or meet once to gather details. Some will even find it acceptable for you to ask for details a second time.

But if you keep coming back -- a third, fourth, or fifth time -- your prospective client is eventually going to get fed up and move on. In their mind, you can’t be trusted with a project if you can’t develop and submit a proposal efficiently.


Ask the “Why” Questions

It’s also important for you to identify the “why” behind the proposal. And it’s an unfortunate truth that many companies will ask people for a proposal just to get them to stop bugging them.

Upon receiving the proposal, they’ll reject it immediately and tell you they aren’t interested. While this borders on unethical, it’s ultimately up to you to weed out the companies who try to get rid of you from the companies who are genuinely looking to do business.

The way to do this is by asking two questions: “Why now?” and “why me?” The “why now” question is intended to get to the bottom of why the client is seeking a proposal.

Do they have a project that needs to be completed this quarter, or are they lining up a job for 12 months down the road? The “why me” question lets you know how they see you fitting into the picture.

If their answers are precise and concrete, you can be more confident that your proposal will be taken seriously. If their answers tend to be non-descriptive and vague, you might want to reconsider the time investment.


Knowing How Long to Wait

Knowing how long to wait before submitting your proposal is not as simple as remembering a formula or rule of thumb, unfortunately. Much depends on the industry, the project, and the client.

Your first few proposals will probably take some trial and error. However, sooner is probably better than later. As you develop a number of proposals over time, make sure to track the results.

Carefully analyze when you send each proposal, how long it takes to prepare it, when you hear back, and what your success rate is. Eventually you’ll be able to identify which proposals get accepted at a high rate and which don’t. This can tell you a lot about when to submit them.


Identifying a Response Deadline

Here’s one thing that newbie proposal writers don’t always do: Set a deadline for getting a response. Why does this matter? Well, consider that for every day your proposal sits on the desk of its intended recipient, they have time to forward that proposal to one of your competitors.

This increases the chances that the competition will undercut you and nab the deal … which means you’re losing on two different fronts. In addition to missing the deal, you’re empowering your competitor.

According to sales expert Bruce King, the ideal range is between one and three days. Anything longer than this means the recipient wasn’t very serious about your proposal to begin with.

Again, you need to figure this deadline out prior to drafting and sending the proposal. It’s a small detail -- and may not hurt you all of the time -- but it can come back to bite you on occasion.


Establishing Decision Makers

As you communicate with the recipient, begin poking and prodding a bit to find out who is really on the receiving end. Are you merely communicating with a receptionist or are you getting through to the decision maker?

They are both important -- one’s a gatekeeper and one’s a decision maker -- but you have to approach them differently. The earlier on you’re able to establish who the decision maker is, the more targeted your proposal will be.

And as you can guess, this is an essential aspect of getting your proposal accepted.


Using the Right Tools

The final thing to think about after hearing those four words -- “send me a proposal” -- is choosing the right tools. Thankfully, we’re no longer in an era when everything has to be done manually.

There are many different tools -- some specific to proposal writing and others that are more general to conducting business -- that can help you facilitate the process and end up on the winning side of a proposal. Identify these so you’re ready to meet your deadline.


Contact iQuoteXpress

At iQuoteXpress, we understand the essence of proposal writing and how challenging it can be to manage the process with efficiency and accuracy. That’s why we’ve developed proprietary quotation software that aids in proposal writing and handles one of the more difficult aspects of the entire process: quoting and pricing. Contact us today to learn more about our sales quote software and how it can help you!