Jun 10, 2021 • Podcast

How do you build a proposal that pops?

Paul lays out the foundation for a proposal with impact.

Show Notes:

“Lead with the customer’s needs. Don’t hit them with price or bore them with everything they didn’t want to know about your company.”

“When the buyer is hyper-aware of their needs, they’re more likely to disrupt their status quo.”

Detail the impact of your solution.

Discover the three important “Why” questions.

Dress up your proposal! Build that perceived value.


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How do you build a proposal that pops?

(Transcribed from podcast)

In a recent training seminar—and this was a virtual one—I was talking to a group of salespeople in these. We were focusing on presenting: How do you present your value-added solution? That’s the sixth Value-Added Selling strategy. And one of the questions that came up was, “Paul, how do you build the actual proposal—the proposal that you are going to submit to the customer? What tips, ideas do you have for building your proposal?” So that’s what we’re going to focus on today’s show—what are some tips for building that proposal? I’m going to talk about the format. I’m going to talk about a couple of ideas to punch it up and really make it stand out.

Before we do that, though, a quick shout-out over to our sponsor, Andrea, at The Creative Impostor Studios. Andrea has mentioned to me several times how podcasting, it continues to grow. It’s a great way to connect with the audience. And I completely agree with her. You know, another thing I’ve noticed, a lot of big companies are building their own podcasts for internal communication. They’re interviewing their leaders within the organization. So, if you’re thinking of starting a podcast, if you need help trying to figure out what equipment you need, all the good things you need to do, Andrea and her team are there to help to produce, edit and get you started. So, make sure you reach out to Andrea at The Creative Impostor Studios. We’re going to have a link over to her website on this episode’s webpage.

As I mentioned in the past, Selling Through Tough Times is now available for pre-order on Amazon. I’ve got to tell you, I’m so excited for this book to launch. As we get closer to September, which is still several months away, we’re going to have some episodes dedicated to the book. But if you want your book, make sure you get in line. Get onto Amazon. Pre-order that copy today.

And in the meantime, Value-Added Selling is available. Value-Added Selling is going to be your go-to guide for how to sell more profitably. Whether times are good, Whether times are bad, hey, Value-Added Selling can work for you as well. So pick up your copy of Value-Added Selling. It’s available on Amazon or wherever you get your books.

Let’s get back to that question. How do you dress up those proposals? How do you enhance them? How do you build one? We’re going to answer it right now.

First things first, whenever you are submitting a proposal or you’re presenting your proposal live to the customer, the very first thing you want to do is lead with a summary of the customer’s needs and pain points. That is absolutely critical. You don’t begin your proposal by telling them everything they didn’t want to know about your company. You don’t want to lead your proposal with your price. You don’t want to lead your proposal by jumping right into a pitch where you’re talking about their solution. No. You have to begin with your customer’s needs and their pain points, and the pressure that they’re experiencing.

Think about what happens for most salespeople that I’m training—let’s say about half—about half the salespeople I train, here’s their typical sales process or cadence. They go in, they meet with a prospect or a customer. They ask them questions. They get a clear understanding of their needs, and then they talk to a few other decision makers, get a clear understanding of their needs. Now that they’ve talked to three, four, or five different people, they have a list of what’s important to them—what they’re trying to accomplish, the pain that they’re experiencing. And then, a day or two later or a week later, they have to go back and present their solution.

Now, in the timeframe that you’ve uncovered the buyer’s needs to the time you present it, there’s a lot of things that go on. Because a week could go by, the buyers no longer thinking about that conversation. And the challenge we face is that when the buyer is hyper-aware of their needs, and their pain, and their pressure, they’re more likely to change or switch or disrupt their status quo. If a week has gone by since you’ve drawn that information out, you need to spend some time reminding the buyer of that. And that’s what we do at the very beginning of the proposal. In that proposal, we do a summary of their needs, their pain points, how it’s impacting them.

For example, let’s say you’re selling a, I don’t know, software capital equipment or something like that. And let’s say, one of the biggest problems they have is they’re facing more downtime because of glitches with their software. What you have to go a step further on is explain the impact of that downtime. So here’s how it goes:

“Mr. Customer. Right now, you’re currently experiencing certain glitches with your software that is causing downtime. That downtime has greatly impacted your profitability on this project.” That’s the pain piece. We want to dig deep. We want to go into the impact of the pain because that’s what’s going to get people to change. So, the first tip: remember to build your proposal by starting with the customer’s needs and their pain points and the pressure that they are experiencing.

The next thing: detail exactly how your solution will satisfy their needs and solve their problems, and by doing that, what is the impact going to be. So, in your proposal, when you are explaining your solution, explain how—specifically, how that solution will satisfy the buyer’s needs, resolve that pain, and what’s the impact of solving that problem or satisfying the need. You’ve got to be able to answer that question.

The next thing in the proposal: you’ve got to answer a question. Actually, it’s a three-part question. And the question begins with why. Why should they want to buy from your company? Why should they want to buy your product or service? And then, why should they want to buy from you as the salesperson? You’ve got to give them those three answers, because most salespeople are going to go in there and they’re going to say, “Hey, here’s our, product. Here’s what it does. That’s why you should buy it.” But very few are going to go a step further and say, “You know, in addition to our product, here’s why you want to partner with our company. Here’s what our company can do for you. And here’s how that’s going to impact your business. And also, here’s what you should want to partner with me.”

Salespeople represent 25% of the total value in a solution. When we surveyed over 600 customers and we asked them that question, “How much value is attributed to the salesperson?” 25% was the number. The company represent and at 18%, and the product represented 57%. So, if you’re not answering that question, “Why you should buy from me?” you’re missing out on 25% of the reason why the customer actually buys. You have to answer that question, and you do that by demonstrating your personal value by sharing stories of how you’ve come through with customers in the past. You do that by making promises to the customer and you behavioralize your commitments. When you tell them, “Hey, I’m going to continue to follow up with you,” that’s not really—it’s not really specific enough. You’ve got to say, “On a quarterly basis, we’re going to review your business to ensure that we’re on target for you to help you reach your goals.” So you want to behavioralize it and make a commitment to that.

So again, in your proposal, you’ve got to answer those three questions: why our company, why our product, and then why me as the salesperson.

Next thing you want to do, you’ve got to dress it up. You’ve got to make it look good. That’s so important. People are visual, and not only that, but the look and the feel of your proposal builds perceived value. Think about it. If something as simple as the paper you choose to print your proposal on—if you use high-quality, heavy bonded paper—that the weight of it seems substantial, that’s going to build more perceived value rather than using the cheapest paper that is possible. So you want to build that perceived value by dressing up your proposal. Make it look good. Work with a design team. Go to resources like fiverr.com. At fiverr.com they can create templates for you on building your proposals. They can build a proposal for you. If you’re proposing a million-dollar solution, spend $40, $50 on the proposal. It has to seem worth it to that customer.

I remember one salesperson in one of our trainings. When he was putting together some of his larger deals, he would go FedEx Kinko’s and he would work with the design team on how he can make it look better, how we could dress it up, use the best paper, use the best, pictures he could find, through in some design work. He really spent time making it look good. You have to dress it up.

One other seller that was talking about ways that he dresses up his proposals, things he will do to go the extra mile. He will actually go to his prospect’s website and use the font from their website on his company’s proposal. Think about it. He uses the font from the prospect’s website on his company’s proposal. And his argument was, “You know, they’re going to look at two or three different proposals, but if my proposal looks like an internal document already, they’re more likely to move forward with it.” He would even take design elements from their website and incorporate that into his presentation. He made it look and feel like it was something that was internal to them already. That’s how you dress it up. That’s that perceived value. So, you’ve got to build that into your proposal.

And then finally, the last tip: when you are giving your proposal, walk your customer through that proposal. Deliver it in-person if you can. Deliver it via a Zoom call if you can. Use the video function. You’ve got to be able to see their face. You want to gather that feedback. You want to walk them through it. Again, you spend so much time understanding the buyer’s needs, take a few more minutes and present your solution to that customer. You want to do it in person, or live, or over the phone. Just don’t send an email saying “here it is” and that’s it.

Make it a big day.

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