Creating a sales proposal is an essential step in business-to-business (B2B) marketing. It’s also an often-overlooked opportunity to differentiate your company from competitors and make a powerful case for your business.
If a request for proposal (RFP) requires you to submit only barebones information, it’s hard to be creative. But when you have the opportunity to develop something exciting, a sales proposal is your chance to shine.
Here are 7 tips to make the sales proposal an effective tool in your smart marketing strategy.
- Write it well. The quality of the content is the most important factor in a successful business proposal. Everything matters, from punctuation, spelling, and grammar to noun/verb agreement and sentence construction. If you’re better at selling than you are at writing, hire a professional copywriter to help you.
- Look the part. A poorly packaged proposal is like walking into a meeting in a cheap suit: It makes the prospect question your credentials and whether you’re up to the job. An attractive, professional carrier, high quality paper stock, crisp printing, and well designed graphics and charts can give you the credibility to be a contender.
- Match the presentation to the opportunity. Smaller projects may not warrant a lengthy proposal with customized design, but for big projects, investing in a custom layout and presentation could be the “wow” factor you need to move your response to the top of the pile. It’s also a chance to demonstrate your creativity and your knowledge of the prospect’s business. Brainstorm with a graphic designer or a team of creative professionals to come up with an attention-getting, high-impact approach.
- But watch the gimmicks. At the same time, it’s a mistake to get too gimmicky. Clever and creative will help you stand out, but if that’s all the prospect remembers about your proposal, you’ve failed to deliver the content to convince them to select you.
- Proofread it. This sounds obvious, but it’s amazing how many business marketers submit proposals with typos and silly errors. This seems to happen most when you start a new proposal by updating the last one you wrote. In fact, one of the most common boo-boos is leaving the last prospect’s name in the new prospect’s proposal. Sloppy mistakes like that can be the kiss of death in a competitive sales environment.
- Write a great cover letter. Don’t listen to people who say the prospect won’t read your cover letter. A warm, well-written letter communicates your excitement about the opportunity and your desire to form a business alliance with the prospect. It also shows your personality and helps humanize your company.
- Don’t overlook the delivery. You can send a proposal by messenger, by overnight delivery, or by email, and if the prospect is 1,000 miles away, that might make sense. But if they’re in your area – or close enough that you can get there easily – nothing says “we really want your business” better than an in-person delivery. The prospect might even be willing to meet with you to have you present it. That’s smart marketing – and it’s guaranteed to put you a critical step closer to winning the business.