While it is important not to write proposals for your salespeople, many of your team members may need your support and coaching to help them develop winning proposals.
Of course, many customers dictate the format of a proposal and it is essential to adhere strictly to it. But even with that you can coach your salespeople to ask their customer if they may add to the information requested to help the customer make the best decision.
We have found that by providing salespeople with a proposal template and coaching to it, you can help them learn to independently and successfully organize and structure their recommendations. The following template can apply to the majority of requests for proposals.
- Customized Cover — customer logo, color, name of proposal, date, your organization’s name (smaller than customer’s)
- Customer Objectives — strategic before tactical
- Proposed Solution Tied to Objectives — customer’s priorities and language/your capabilities and value-add
- Why Your Organization — customized to customer
- Your Team — positioned to customer needs
- Implementation — tied to customer objectives
- Pricing Information — value justified
- Appendix — all support data related to what was covered in the proposal
And possibly add these sections:
- Organization Chart
- Information on Ownership of Your Company
- Financial Information
- Cover page
- Table of Contents
- Numbers on each page
- Bullets and plenty of white space
- Cover letter (if you must send in advance of presentation)
In coaching your salespeople, ask them to bring the RFP (if one were issued) and their customer notes to the meeting. In a winning proposal, every noun, verb and adjective resonates with the customer and therefore proposals must be customized. This usually takes several drafts.
Ask these questions:
1.What are the customer’s objectives? Priorities?
2.What does this customer value?
3.What are the elements of our solution?
4.How do the elements of our solution relate to the customer’s objectives? (look for percentage of customized vs. boilerplate)
5.What are the key five or ten customer words/language from the RFP and/or your notes you have integrated into our solution? How often do these words appear in our solution? Where? How can we further customize?
6.What internal resources did you tap into to develop our proposed solution? What external research did you conduct?
7.What alternatives did you consider?
8.How did you differentiate your solution from the competition?
9.With whom in the customer organization did you validate your ideas to test your thinking before you presented your proposal?
10.Why should this customer buy from us?