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The deadly mistakes proposal writers make

It’s not uncommon to see companies make faux pas when trying to get their audience to stop and listen. Just like you don’t want to be caught underdressed for a business event, or accidentally say something embarrassing in front of the CEO, you don’t want to present an unprofessional proposal to a prospect that could turn them away from your brand forever.

Here are the “7 deadly mistakes” sales reps can make when preparing a proposal, and what you can do instead:

1. Not qualifying the lead

Selling to dead ends won’t get you anywhere. Before you spend the time and energy crafting a detailed business proposal, send a short and interactive e-brochure to test the waters.

2. Not including what matters to the audience

No matter what you’re selling, it won’t matter to the audience if it doesn’t address their specific needs. Include only what matters most to the audience you’re targeting in the proposal. Address the major sticking points and show the value your product or service brings to the table.

3. Not saying what makes you different

Some potential clients may receive multiple offers and deals every day. Many of them which may appear pretty similar to one another. Make your business proposal be the one that stands out! In every proposal you send, clearly state what makes you different and better than the competition.

4. Not personalizing your proposal

When you see “Dear Customer” in an email preview, doesn’t it just make you to want to continue reading the message?

Yeah…I didn’t think so…no one feels that way. Instead of a “Dear Customer” or “Dear Client” greeting, use a prospective client’s actual name or surname! It makes for not only a more personal tone, but also a more individualistic one as well. This is key!

5. Not structuring the document in an aesthetically appealing way

Proposals that are lined with massive amounts of text from top to bottom are still sitting in the dark and damp corners of client inboxes everywhere. Remember, you’re not crafting a proposal for robots…at least we hope you aren’t. We are a multi-sensory species, so design your business proposals accordingly.

Use powerful images, videos, and colors to captivate and inspire an emotional response in your viewers. Include smart pricing tables clients can interact with so that they can see all of the options available to them quickly and easily.

6. Not making it short and easily digestible

Nothing actually disengages a client faster than a document that is too wordy. Craft your business proposal as if your client just said, “You have five seconds to capture my attention and compel me to continue reading. Go!” The old adage that “less is more” certainly applies here. If you can replace text with a fun and short video demonstrating your product or service, do it.

7. Not making it easy to close

After all of the work you’ve put into crafting beautiful and interactive business proposals, a client who is ready to take action and finalize a deal should be able to do so with ease. In fact, 57% of buyers indicated “slow” or “no response” to their inquiries as major influencers to their purchasing decision, according to a study by Zogby Analytics. Enable immediate transactions by embedding a credit card form right in the document that can process payment.

Make it easy for the client to sign by setting up an electronic signing order which guides the client through the e-signing process. Make a checklist from these points to use in your everyday proposal development. Put yourself in the recipient’s shoes; how would you feel if this business proposal landed in your inbox?

Remember, steer clear of common mistakes like not personalizing content or not making it easy to read.

What changes are you going to make to better tailor your content to your audience moving forward? What tools might you need that you don’t already have?

Mikita Mikado

Mikita Mikado CEO & Co-founder of PandaDoc

Mikita is a software entrepreneur, CEO, and Co-founder of PandaDoc. When he is not working, you can find him catching waves on a surfboard or hanging out with his two daughters.

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