There’s a new breed of entrepreneur “gurus” on social media who like to tell you that finding clients is easy. You’ll encounter these “masterminds” while scrolling through your Facebook feed. They’ll tell you if you have a great product or service, it will sell itself. What they don’t tell you is that this is mostly garbage.
Let’s face it, consumers are smarter than ever. Even more so, businesses are smarter than ever. You can have the best product or service in the world, but without the ability to communicate your value, all hope is lost. Businesses work hard for their money. What’s going to convince them to part with the cold, hard cash? This is where you need some marketing and sales skills.
Sales proposals are a way to bridge this communication gap. Unfortunately, too many businesses fail to successfully market and sell their business. According to Forbes, one of the primary reasons 80% of businesses fail is because businesses fail to communicate their value propositions clearly in a compelling manner.
If you’re not seeing results from your sales proposals, you might be making some mistakes along the way. It’s not enough to slap together your quote and your process and click send. You need a clear, effective strategy that builds a real relationship. Are you making these sales proposal mistakes below? If so, it’s time to fix them.
1. You Don’t Know Your Value
Let’s take a trip back to Business 101 for a moment. One of the first steps to starting a business is creating a business plan. In this plan, you need to identify your value through various analyses and how you stand out from the competition. If you don’t know these things like the back of your hand, neither will your prospective client.
Without a clear value proponent, that stems from the most important department in your company – the data analysis team – you don’t know if you have any real benefits for your client. They aren’t going to hand over their money just because you’re well-spoken. They need to know what’s in it for them. Take a look at your sales proposal. Can you clearly identify what’s in it for your customer, or does it need more work?
2. Unorganized Structure
Your sales proposal needs to be organized. If it’s messy, your prospects will lose focus and have a hard time following what you’re trying to say. Remember how 80% of businesses fail? Much of this comes down to poor communication. Don’t let your business become just another statistic.
One of the most common structural issues is putting information in your sales proposal at random. It’s easy to think the more information you include, the better it will be for your prospect. This actually has the opposite effect. Too much information is confusing and overwhelming.
Another common organizational problem is a lack of persuasive organization. There’s an art form to being persuasive, and this means you follow a flow that’s easy for the client to understand. You’ll start with your basic offerings, then you focus on all of the benefits as they pertain to the individual client. Without this structure, you’re likely to lose some interest along the way.
3. Being Too Technical
There is a time and a place for being technical, and a sales proposal is usually not the place. Assuming your prospect is familiar with all of your technical terms and phrases is a mistake. Most often, you’ll be sending your proposal to the first line of contact. This might not be a professional who even understands the topic you’re talking about.
When you’re too technical, your proposal becomes confusing. It puts the reader in a position where they feel unable to keep up, and that’s not a position you want them to be in. You don’t ever want to talk down to someone you’re trying to sell to. In addition, when your words are excessively technical, they tend to be unclear. Being direct is an asset. You’re not trying to waste anyone’s time, and you’re not trying to be overly flowery and unclear.
Instead, keep your technical terms to a minimum. Be direct without being unnecessarily harsh. Your client needs to understand the value you’re offering their company, and that can’t be done if you’re more focused on proving how well you understand your niche.
4. It’s All About Your Company
In sales, it’s not about you. It’s about the client. While it makes sense to lead by sharing your business accomplishments and what it is that makes your business so special, it’s not really about that at all. If your client wants to learn more about your business awards and recognition, they could do that on your website.
Your sales proposal is a chance to focus on the clients and their unique needs. Yes, there is a reason to share a brief introduction to your company and what you do, but make sure you always turn the focus back to the customer. Prioritize the information that’s most valuable to your client. If they’re likely to respond to your business philosophy, mention that. If that isn’t going to matter to them, leave it out. They’re only going to remember what’s important to them. Ensure your entire proposal is important to them from start to finish.
5. Grammar and Spelling Mistakes
Finally, the biggest killer of even the best sales proposals is grammar and spelling mistakes. You could write a memorable, impactful proposal only for it all to fall apart on a simple mistake. Your elementary school teacher warned you these mistakes would be costly, and they were right.
While a spell checker on your computer or with your proposal software is a great start, it shouldn’t be the only step you take. When you’re reading your own proposal over and over, you become blind to it. It might look perfect to you, but there are likely still mistakes. The best rule of thumb is to have a fresh pair of eyes look it over before you click send. It’s worth the extra few minutes to ensure you don’t have any silly mistakes getting in the way.
Land More Sales
A startling 44% of executives believe their organization is not effective at managing its sales process. Is your business one of them? Your sales process requires a strong strategy for creating sales proposals that convert. If your proposals are falling flat, odds are you’re making one of these mistakes above.
If so, don’t fret. You can turn things around with some key changes. Take it back to the basics to identify your value. What do you bring to the table that your competition doesn’t? From there, build a relationship with your prospects on this value. A customized, tailored proposal that’s meticulously planned will take your business much farther. Act on these tips above today to find sales success.