So you've worked hard to convince your client you're the right fit for them and now you've reached the final hurdle. Let discover how to write a killer proposal.
What does a good proposal do above everything else?
Good proposal writing should make it easy for the prospective stakeholder to justify and sell-on to other stakeholders within their business. There is now an average of 6.8 decision-makers in the B2B buying process according to research by CEB. It is imperative that a proposal has the ability to engage and influence the entire group.
Tailored to the customer's brand. This is important because it keeps the focus of the proposal on the prospect's goals and challenges and not on your solution. Remember that the other stakeholders don't necessarily know (or care) about your business so they must be central to 'their' story.
Teach why and how to change: If the prospect doesn't see anything wrong with their current 'status-quo' then they'll have no desire to change. This is where a proposal can present key facts around success stories or highlight potential pitfalls they may encounter should they not take action.
A great way to structure your proposal
A Summary of the proposal. This brings all stakeholders up to speed on things they might not have been privy to.
The Prospect's challenges and objectives. Your face-to-face meeting with your prospect should be geared towards gaining a deep understanding of their goals and challenges. A combination of the prospect's known challenges and your own assumed challenges about their business based on your industry knowledge and teaching can build a powerful case for change.
Relevant insights to build the case for change. Providing industry statistics, benchmarking reports, sharing similar stories from other businesses and highlighting missed opportunities. The stakeholder group will begin to understand the importance of change and the dangers of inaction.
Demonstrating your suitability. Just because the prospect is convinced that they need to change and your solution sounds like the right one to take, they may not see enough reasons to choose your business. This is the best place to demonstrate your unique attributes and your differentiation in the market place.
Comprehensive outline of the proposition. Detail, detail, detail. For your potential customer to part with their investment, they really need to have excellent visibility on the scope of the project and the agreed deliverables. This requires details and a thorough plan.
Include a timeline. Timelines are a great way to help stakeholder visualise the investment. You can even include stakeholder names to really help build up the picture of how the project will move forward and engage everyone.
Example of a visual timeline
Expected Results. With B2B buyers more risk averse and conscious of their ROI than ever before, demonstrating results is a vital part of helping them justify their decision.
Proposed Investment. Very obvious, but a clear break down of the financial commitment is essential. A good sales rep should discuss this early in the qualification stage of the conversation. By establishing that there is a budget ensures that the proposal doesn't come as a shock to your prospect. Other stakeholders may wish to see a break down of the investment in order to help them decide. Transparency around the investment is important.
Next Steps. Be specific, include dates, stakeholders and locations. Set a date to discuss discuss their feedback on your proposal.