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Tips and approaches for writing successful sales proposals to potential clients

Use this list to create effective sales proposals

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How successful are your business proposals? Are you getting the best return for the time and effort you put into writing a formal sales offer for your goods or services?

"Attention spans in the world of selling are becoming shorter," says BDC Senior Client Partner Brian Pleet. "Even if you feel your proposals are strong, they probably could stand some improvement or pruning."

Focus on the client

Pleet says he sees too many proposals that focus on the company making the offer, rather than the client’s needs.

"Bad proposals start and end with we rather than you," he says. "Good proposals are not about us but about them. To the extent you recognize that, you will be successful."

Pleet, who advises businesses in Vancouver, has compiled a checklist of 6Ps for making a more effective sales proposal.

1. Pain—Understand your client’s problems

Strive to understand your client’s business challenges, opportunities and objectives. If you don’t grasp these, you can’t write a winning proposal. How would your clients describe their pain?

2. Positioning—Offer the best remedy for your client’s pain

Outline the value your solution offers to the client. Don’t assume they know. Answer the question: "What’s in it for me?"

3. Plan—Show you know where you’re going

Clearly describe how you plan to implement your solution. Include a timeline and details of resources that will be required.

4. People—Promote your team

Highlight the skills of all the people that will support the project’s success. Underscore their experience working on jobs like the one you’re bidding on.

5. Pricing—Provide accurate pricing

Be upfront about the costs involved in your offer. But also highlight how it will benefit your client and produce a strong return on investment.

6. Proof—Show how well you’ve done it before

You’re asking someone to believe in your ability to deliver. Offer reference letters or testimonials from other satisfied clients. Spell out how your company has solved the problems of other clients.

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