A proposal condenses all the conversations, research, and experience you have acquired as a professional. Most importantly, it represents the solution you decide to provide to your prospects—one that will add value to their business.
The way you position your proposed solution defines how your prospect will perceive you—either as a generic service provider or as an expert who earns their trust. Small as it is, this difference can make or break your sales process.
According to a Salesforce survey of 2,900 sales professionals, 79% of respondents indicated it’s “absolutely critical or very important” to consider the salesperson as a “trusted advisor” who adds value to their business.
Your proposals are just one part of your entire sales process. Yet how you write them—and how they build your prospect’s trust—can be the trigger that closes the deal for your prospects.
Here are five tips you can use to write proposals that build trust with your prospects and close sales.
Speak about their problems
After speaking with a prospect for several weeks, you may think they know you, you already know them, and that they are sold. What could stop you from losing them as a client? Not speaking about their problems.
Those prospects that you speak to may not be the same ones as those who sign the contract. Confusing your prospects for your stakeholders is a common mistake to make, and one you need to avoid.
You want to make your proposal about them—their problems, needs, and goals—regardless of the conversations you have had. Doing so will show your prospects that you have understood them, that you care about them, and that you see them as a partner, not just a client.
Copywriters have used this technique for decades, highlighting the benefits the customer will experience instead of the mere features—in your case, the technicalities surrounding your services.
Your competition may talk about the big brands they have worked with, the years of experience they’ve got; you want to talk about what your company will do for your prospects. The more specific you can be with the results they can expect, and the more tailored the solutions are to the prospect’s problems, the more trust you will earn.
To speak clearly about their problems, you first need to have your target audience defined. The target audience represents the specific set of customers who share similar traits and with whom you want to work or expect to work. By targeting a specific audience, your sales process will become standardized, and your marketing more effective.
Your proposal should always take the data you have acquired from your sales conversations to create tailored proposals. For example, an SEO consultant that mentions how they will recover a reported 20% loss of organic traffic for their prospects will fare much better results than one that says their services will “help increase organic traffic.”
With the help of PandaDoc, you can use elements such as interactive mock-ups and rotating graphs to develop personalized proposals for every prospect.
Showcase your successes
Have you ever stopped to think about why your customers trust you? What made them want to work with you? Out of the hundreds of competitors available, what was the “one thing” that closed the deal for them?
It may have been that you have years of experience in your industry. Perhaps, it’s your customer testimonials, your exposure, or a combination of them. Whatever the case, your success as an organization—or as a professional—is what nurtures your prospect’s trust; it’s what makes them say, “I know my company is in good hands.”
For that reason, your proposals should show your past successes.
As Ross Simmonds from Foundation explains: ”You need to be willing to own your position of strength. When something great happens to your business, you should use it to your advantage.”
A highly effective way to own your past successes is to share customer testimonials—that is, quotes from past clients that explain what they liked about working with you. The best testimonials influence prospects when they are :
- Specific—e.g., “Working with Acme Inc. increased my sales 20%.”
- Relevant—i.e., the quotes belong from people they know or from companies in similar industries as your prospects.
- Human—i.e., they show the face of your clients.
To get customer testimonials, you need to implement surveys, questionnaires, and personal interviews with current and past customers to uncover their main value drivers—that is, the aspects they value the most from your services.
Sam Suthar recommends asking your customers the following questions:
- How do you feel about your experience with us?
- How can we improve your experience with us?
- Are you happy with the support you received from us?
- What do you like and why?
- What do you think our employees can do better?
- Would you like to share any additional comments or feedback?
On the one hand, acquiring customer feedback will improve your services, a positive operational habit to develop. On the other, it will help you create relevant proposals that best fit your prospects.
Connect on a personal level
By the time you send your proposal, you may have already had a few talks with your leads. But as we saw, past conversations don’t necessarily lead to sales; becoming your prospect’s “trusted advisor” does.
To earn this level of trust, you need to develop a personal connection with your leads, both before and after you send your proposal. You can do so by leveraging social media to your advantage.
According to the Content Marketing Institute 2018 Benchmarks Report, the main social media networks for B2B are:
- LinkedIn (97%)
- Twitter (87%)
- Facebook (86%)
- YouTube (60%)
- Instagram (30%)
Each of these social networks has its unique benefits and uses; you should choose one that best represents your current efforts and target audience.
LinkedIn is focused exclusively on business professionals, something they explain in their mission statement: “to connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful” As a business-friendly network, LinkedIn is ideal for communicating your company values, connecting with your leads, and showing your work.
There are several LinkedIn tools you can use to connect with leads, like LinkedIn’s own Sales Navigator tool, Lempod to increase your posts’ reach, and Leadfeeder to get LinkedIn information from your web visitors.
Twitter has earned the second spot as a relevant B2B network thanks to its open discussions, weekly chats, and industry expert posts, all of which you can use to participate and connect with your prospects.
As a B2B social network, Facebook isn’t as personal as LinkedIn or Twitter, but it’s much more effective to create ads to target your leads. You can create a highly targeted list with your leads’ information and run ads that regularly remind them of your company’s offers and marketing messages.
All of these social networks allow you to extract valuable information to learn more about your leads, both from their personal and professional life, and use it in your proposals. For example, you can use an opinion a lead shared and mention it in your conversations—it will be a pleasing surprise to them and a potential opportunity to develop rapport.
Discuss your proposal with your prospects
After you send your proposal, your job isn’t over; in fact—it just begins. Several factors could affect your prospect’s decision—they may not read your proposal, they may not understand your solution’s value, etc.
As soon as you send your proposal, you need to sell the proposed solution. This requires sitting down with your potential customers and discussing the proposal in detail.
Having a meeting to present your proposal will nurture your rapport and trust; it shows you care about them. It doesn’t matter if you carry the meeting over Zoom, through a phone call, or personally; what matters is that you discuss it with them one on one.
Communicate your desire to discuss your proposal, and suggest specific times to meet. Also, create a sales meeting agenda and share it with prospects, so they add any suggestions of their own.
When you start the meeting, walk them through your problem identification process—i.e., the problems you found during the discovery phase of your sales process. You want to show them you got their problem correctly and the logic you followed to propose your solutions—i.e., your services.
Then, explain the solutions you propose—how they work, how they will help solve your prospect’s problems, and what they can expect to get from them.
Share any details on the deliverables, success metrics, and deadlines you have defined. They must understand what they will get from you once you start working with them.
After presenting your price, ask them, “how does this sound?” Wait until they speak and uncover any problems they may have with your proposal and your pricing.
Finally, make sure to answer all their questions. If you feel they still have some doubts, clarify as many things as needed. Your prospects should feel like they are doing business with someone they trust.
Embed your proposals in a clear sales process
Your proposals aren’t just a document you send to your leads; they represent the culmination of your sales process. As such, you want to develop a process that embeds your proposals in your sales workflow.
Your sales reps should collaborate, if not elaborate, your proposals with the rest of your team—whether that’s your marketers, your account managers, etc. Have your sales reps share any information they have found to work in previous client relationships, including answering the following questions.
- What messages resonate with your leads the most?
- What problems do most of your leads have?
- What solutions do they look for?
- What are their most common questions?
- What causes the highest friction to close the deal?
To increase your team collaboration, integrate your proposal software tool with your CRM and your email marketing tool. Other sales tools you should consider using to streamline your sales process are:
- Salesmate, which will help you create an efficient pipeline.
- FindThatLead, which will enrich and verify your lead’s data.
- Autoklose, which will improve your lead engagement.
Connecting your sales software with your proposal software will help you align your marketing and sales processes. Consequently, your proposals will complement your sales team’s efforts, and increase the quality of your proposals.
Write your proposals to close deals
Your proposals are more than just a presentation of your offers. They are a sales letter written only for one prospect. Writing your proposals with this idea in mind will lead to greater prospect trust, which increases the chances of closing the deal.
All of the tips shared here—speaking about your prospect’s problems, showing your successes, connecting on a personal level, discussing your proposals personally, and aligning your proposals within your sales process—will transform your proposals from generic documents to sales-inducing presentations.
And with the help of PandaDoc, applying these tips successfully will be much easier than you think.