Want to write better proposals? Or do you especially want to deliver them faster? Or maybe even both. Better bids are primarily about increasing the probability of winning across the content axis. With faster, you are primarily concerned with keeping the momentum with the customer and being able to deliver more quotes in the same amount of time, ultimately bringing in more revenue.
In the five-step plan below, we explain how to make better proposals. By following the steps, you can work on your offers to make them better and increase your chances of winning.
Need help with 1 of the steps? Then contact one of Stryfes’ Sales Strategists to help you.
Step 1: Identity what needs improvement
Using the eight rules for a good proposal, determine which parts in your standard quotation are not good.
Make sure everyone on your sales team makes the exact offers. Do you currently have a standard proposal? Or does each vendor have their template? Or maybe your salespeople start with a blank page every time. The latter two, of course, are far from ideal. You know that, too. Anyway, many vendors have a doc on their desktop. This one should disappear first. Provide a central location that everyone can easily access.
Step 2: Draft the essential document
A good quotation is about 6 to 10 pages, including the cover page. Keep six pages for more minor contracts (those your contact may sign for themselves) and 10 for large contracts at the core of your client’s business process.
A good structure is:
- Who is the customer (what does his sector look like and what happens there)?
- What is the problem the customer has? And most importantly, why is this a problem from a customer perspective
- What is the client’s desired situation?
- How does your solution fit into that?
- How do you deliver your solution? Think carefully about the client’s essential issues
- What will it cost?
- What is the next step after the signature?
- Why are you the one to deliver this? What makes you so great?
Step 3: Writing the standard texts
Some parts of the quote are always the same. For example, explain how you provide your services (Service Level Agreement). Or how quickly you deliver something and the process of that. Other things are customer specific. You don’t create standard texts for that; you give the writer tips on how they build that text.
Describe the client’s industry and the client’s role in that industry.
What is the customer’s strategy, and what is stopping them from coming here
What problem is the client looking for a solution to outside his own company?
By adding these tips to your standard quotation template, you give your Sales staff room to write a powerful first chapter at their discretion, which the customer recognizes. You can already add some examples if you have many clients from the same industry with the same problems. If you include these tips in the “sales conversation,” your Sales employee can already ask the customer about them. This will increase recognition when the customer sees the proposal.
Step 4: Make it visual
Now that all the text has been written and it is clear how the quotation is structured, it is time to tackle the formatting. This is where it doesn’t hurt to hire a designer to help you. But don’t give this designer a free hand! Because there are rules for quotation formatting. This has to do with readability. Standing out is excellent; a customer who reads your quote from front to back is better.
These are the rules for good readability:
- The document is a portrait (i.e., a portrait A4)
- Pages have 1 column (so not 2 with smaller letters)
- Each page has a clear headline and intermediate headings after about every ten lines of text
- Each page contains at least one visual aspect
- The text width is up to 75% of the page
Within these rules, a designer still has a lot of freedom to get to work. In design, it is also essential for the customer to recognize themselves.
Step 5: Implement & explain
Now that the quotation is ready, the sales staff gets to work on it. Take the time to explain the new offer to your Sales Team. How it works. Which texts are essential, and where is the poetic freedom? Why were confident choices made, etc… By including them in why you made confident choices, which is going to lead to higher odds of winning, they are more likely to use the new offer. And finally, make the new offer part of the Sales process.
To know how to implement a standard quotation properly, read How to ensure a fast quotation process.
Making quotes faster
It is straightforward to create quotations faster: Work with a tool. A Word template containing fixed fields that you fill in only once, such as a company name, already saves time. But a tool where fields are automatically populated from your CRM is, of course, even better. And such Proposal Tools provide more uniformity in the quotations issued. But can create customer-specific recognition without taking extra time.
So that saves time and increases the chances of winning. So that’s two birds with one stone.
Help my team is not good at writing
Not every sale is good at writing recruiting copy. That’s okay. Writing training always helps, but you’ll already take a big step forward with these seven tips for quote writing:
- Do a spell check
- Do a grammar check
- Set up a second reader (for extensive quotes are always good) -> preferably someone who is not in the business and has an excellent critical eye
- Write actively. This means that words like become, will and can are prohibited
- Write modern. Old-fashioned may seem businesslike, but it reads laboriously.
- Vary short and long sentences. Before and after a long sentence, there is always a short one, and that is a maximum of 7 words.
Or give your team a book. Our book tip is Making Smarter Proposals by Saskia Kerkhof. In it, use some neuropsychological facts and tips data to make your offers convert better into orders.
For a winning proposal, getting better and faster is essential. Using several practical tips, we have given you the tools to start working on your quotations immediately. And perhaps some of the tips are pretty open doors => Do a spell check!!! Is the honest answer that many proposals still contain spelling errors? Usually, the spell check cannot be turned on due to various IT dependencies, or the autocorrect is too active.
Would you prefer help to make your quotations better? If so, please contact one of our Sales Strategists.
Want to read more about good quotations? Here are a few articles: