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  • Sarah Frazier

5 Musts for a winning sales proposal

If you want to stand out amongst your competitors and make an impression that prompts buyer action, your proposal must be better than all the other ones the buyer has received. A stand-out proposal is not only memorable but engaging and accelerates the deal. There are many good sales proposals in the world, but the great ones win the business.

On average, it takes eight touchpoints to engage a prospective buyer. It’s exciting when you finally get to the proposal stage! But why do some sales proposals instill buyer confidence while others stall the conversation?

If you want to stand out amongst your competitors and make an impression that prompts buyer action, your proposal must be better than all the other ones the buyer has received. A stand-out proposal is not only memorable but engaging and accelerates the deal. There are many good sales proposals in the world, but the great ones win the business.

What specifically should you include in your sales proposal to get the outcome you desire?

Listen in as Qwilr’s Sr. Account Executive, Kathryn Ingler, shares the five elements every proposal must contain to improve your odds of winning the deal:

View the presentation deck

The current selling environment

Selling today looks a lot different than it did three years ago; COVID-19 forced us into an entirely new remote sales model overnight. But with change comes opportunity, and virtual selling is here to stay. 

Spurred by the pandemic and fueled by digitally-minded millennials moving into decision-making positions, Gartner predicts that 80% of B2B sales interactions will occur in digital channels by 2025, even though travel and social interaction are nearly pre-pandemic levels. 

The good news is virtual selling has not intimidated buyers from making large purchases through digital channels. But, successful virtual selling places more emphasis on your communications— your sales proposal needs to be a positive reflection of your brand, working on your behalf, anytime and anywhere. 

After all, digital selling knows no time or environment boundaries— your buyer may be viewing your materials from any device during traditional working hours or on a flex schedule. You just don’t know, nor do you have control. As such, your sales proposal must work overtime, communicating your message clearly and effectively. 

Sales proposal must #1: Personalization

Everybody wants to be known and made to feel special— and your buyer is no exception. 2 out of 3 buyers are influenced by the quality and customization of your sales materials, and 1 out 4 will dismiss materials that aren’t personalized. (SaaS Buyer Experience Study, 2021)

The good news is sellers also recognize the importance of customizing the buying experience, although they struggle with execution.

In our webinar poll, 80% of participants said they are personalizing their sales proposals, although 76% said it’s a manual process— typically search/replace or manually typing in data.

personalizing a sales proposal
manual personalization of sales proposal

The obvious disadvantages to manually personalizing proposals include:

  • It’s time-consuming, eating into valuable selling time
  • It’s prone to human error, from inadvertently missing data replacements
  • It’s not scalable

Alternatives to manual personalization include integrating your proposal software with your CRM. For example, the Qwilr – Hubspot integration makes it easy to create custom proposals with just a few clicks, pulling key customer data from HubSpot.

Qwilr also has account tokens, which add personalization via an intake form to placeholders you create in your proposal template for those who wish to add personalization without a CRM integration.

At the very minimum, your personalization should include your prospect’s name, company name, logo, and an image relevant to them.

Sales proposal must #2: Visually appealing

We’ve all heard the expression, “a picture is worth a thousand words,” and it holds true for your sales proposal. Our brains process and retain visual images much quicker and longer than written words, so incorporate visuals if you want your message remembered!

In fact, our brains can process visual information 60,000 times faster than the written word. Additionally, we remember only 10% of written information after three days, but we retain 65% of the message when presented with relevant images.

visual sales proposals vs. written ones

Need ideas and inspiration for making your proposal more visual and engaging? Download The 2022 Proposal Look Book now.

Sales proposal must #3: A problem statement

A problem statement reflects the challenges faced by your client and may include anything from workflow bottlenecks to resource challenges or other fundamental difficulties.

Research shows that 70% of buyers make a purchase to solve a problem, so it’s to your benefit to understand that dilemma. Understanding a buyer’s problem is usually part of the discovery call. However, if you discover gaps in your understanding of the buyer’s situation, it’s perfectly acceptable to go back and ask the buyer for clarification.

why buyers buy

Including a problem statement in your sales proposal serves many purposes, including:

  • First, it demonstrates to the buyer that you’re listening. Only 13% of buyers believe salespeople understand their needs; a problem statement shows them otherwise.
  • It opens a dialogue between you and your buyer as you discuss the challenges and desired future state.
  • It highlights gaps in your knowledge and if further exploration is needed on your part.

Sometimes, buyers don’t always know their underlying problem, only the resulting symptoms. Questions to help uncover the buyer’s actual problem include:

  • What’s your biggest inhibitor to growth?
  • What is your most significant pain point?
  • What does your boss obsess about?
  • What consumes the most time in your day?
  • What topic always surfaces in your internal meetings?

And, of course, never underestimate the personal side of a buyer’s challenges. Asking what would help make their life better personally can uncover problems like work/life balance or professional aspirations that make for strong motivators to moving forward with a purchase.

When you deeply understand your prospect’s pain, you’re better positioned to demonstrate how your solution solves their dilemma. Bottom line: include a problem statement in your proposal— it will make your proposal more relevant and helps to earn your buyer’s trust.

Sales proposal must #4: A clear offer

How you present your offer is so important that we wrote an entire Pricing Playbook on the topic!

Your price is the culmination of your sales message. Deals are won and lost with your offer, and our webinar participants confirmed buyers typically want to negotiate.

B2B price negotiations

The survey responses are not surprising; 58% of sales objections are related to price, although back and forth negotiations slow down closing a deal. Additionally, buyers want to be empowered to choose the features and optional services that benefit them. 

But how do most sales proposals present the price? 

A static excel table that does not meet the buyer’s preferences and may not present your price clearly— sellers, you can do better! Don’t be afraid to add flair to your pricing presentation. Alternatives to the standard excel table include interactive pricing and tiered pricing, which is especially helpful for price-sensitive buyers. 

Sales proposal must #5: A call to action

After all the phone calls, email messages, and finally presenting your sales proposal, you’ve told your buyer what, why, and how much.  Now, tell them what to do about it!  E-signatures are convenient, popular, and legally compliant, too. 

e-signature software

While many e-signature options are outside of your sales proposal, meaning you have to send a separate document for your client to approve, Qwilr offers accept, sign, and payment capabilities within your proposal. The simpler you can make it for your buyer to accept your proposal, the better (and streamlined) your close rate will be. If you would like to learn more about Qwilr’s e-signature feature, we invite you to book a demo.

And suppose your buyer is not yet ready to accept and sign your proposal. In that case, the best practice is to offer a secondary call to action, such as embedding a link to your calendar to book a future appointment or, at the very least, your contact information.

Summary takeaways

Your sales proposal reflects your brand and needs to “speak” on your behalf after the Zoom call ends. Design-driven brands outperform the competition consistently, as the quality of your materials influences buyers. Finally, make it easy for buyers to say “yes” by communicating your offer clearly and always providing the next steps. A good proposal shares information about your product or service. A great sales proposal is memorable, rises above the competition, grabs attention, and accelerates winning the deal.

Book a demo with our team to learn how Qwilr’s web-based proposals can help you impress buyers, improve your win rates, and scale your sales team.

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