7 Sales Proposal Mistakes and-how to Avoid Them,

Adrian Rosca, the author of this post
Adrian Rosca
Entrepreneur selling to customer
Created by Pressfoto - Freepik.com

Finding clients can be difficult when you're an entrepreneur or have a small business.

You have to convince other people to depart with their hard earned money with the expectation that you are the best option for them and their needs. This is where the art of marketing and salesmanship comes into play.

Unfortunately, many entrepreneurs and small businesses have difficulty with sales, which leads to a lot of failures. So much so, that up to 8 out of 10 businesses fail over time.

The seemingly simple sales proposal is one area where businesses fail because of a number of things that can go wrong. Usually, a failed business proposal happens because of a mistake that could've been avoided with a little bit of attention to detail and strategic preparation.

If you find your own sales proposals lacking a certain persuasive substance or failing to get the business you need, this is for you. I'm going to cover seven of the most common mistakes businesses make when creating a sales proposal. Knowing these mistakes will allow you to avoid them in the future so you can use the persuasive psychology a client proposal harnesses for success.

Lack of Details

A business proposal is something that a client reads over in order to understand what your business is actually offering them.

In some ways, it is simply informational; however, it is also the first and last persuasive chance you have to make a sale. Many potential clients will spend time with a sales proposal before making the ultimate decision.

A good business proposal needs to spell out what you have to offer in enough detail so clients aren't confused.

This is going to vary depending on the services and products you provide, but all clients are going to have the same expectation: there needs to be enough information so they can confidently take your business.

Many businesses sacrifice detail in order to be short and sweet. They believe that a proposal that is too long is going to lose the interest of the potential client. In some ways, this is true: you can't go overboard with the information and expect the client to read and understand everything.

However, lacking detail can be even more harmful. Potential clients may assume that your business doesn't know how to do things properly or hasn't prepared enough to meet their needs.

Lack of Structure

Sales proposal needs to be clearly organized and easy to follow to keep attention.

This will help clients understand everything you have to offer as well as present the information in a persuasive way.

The first common issue with a proposal's structure is simply the lack of any organization. Some businesses will put information in at random in almost a stream of thought manner. This will often confuse clients before they have a chance to understand your pitch.

The other major issue is the lack of persuasive organization, meaning you don't present the information in the most persuasive way possible. A persuasive proposal generally starts with the basic offerings and then goes into detail about the benefits the potential client can expect by accepting the proposal.

If your proposal lacks a basic sense of organization, most clients are not going to waste their time with the document. If the proposal is longer than just a few pages, include a Table of Contents at the top.

Not Being Direct or Being Too Technical

Anytime you want to write something, the creative writing centers of the brain kicks in. It is common to try to write eloquently as an attempt to be interesting. This is usually ineffective.

Another mistake most people do is to assume that the client knows all the technical terms about your business and offers as you do. They never do.

Most clients like their information to be direct and upfront. This helps them understand the specific details of the proposal while also giving them time to think about those specifics.

If you're trying to confuse them with flowery words and details, they won't keep attention or have the time to process the sales proposal. A lack of attention and time to process usually means no deal in the end.

It’s worth repeating, to make a successful proposal you need to be direct. Keep your language simple and the information clear in order to make the most of the space you have in the proposal. This will allow you to include the necessary information the client needs to make a decision while also portraying your business as being focused and efficient.

Grammar Issues

Nothing will kill a potential deal quicker than the basic kind of grammar mistakes your third grade English teacher scolded you about. In the day and age of spell check, there's simply no excuse for having the more common grammar issues that plague a lot of professional business copy.

I assume you write your sales proposal on a computer, so you should be able to see any spelling mistakes right away. The typical spell checker is usually good enough to catch most common grammatical errors, but not all. This is where you have to pay special attention.

Read over your final proposal before submitting it to the client. More importantly, ask one of your colleagues to review it. Extra eyes on the documents will allow you to catch things that you may have missed initially.

Unclear Benefits

Just like most things related to entrepreneurship, clients are going make the big decision based on the value for them. They are not going to depart with their money if there is nothing in it for them.

Many business proposals that fail lack clear and specific benefits to the client. They are either unknowingly hidden in the description of the proposal or are left to the client to assume what they have to gain from the proposal. In both cases, they're more likely to fail than to succeed.

This is where a little bit of organization can come in handy. Make sure that you have a specific section in the proposal that is focused on the main values and benefits your client should expect if they accept the proposal. This will make it clear to them what they should consider when making the ultimate choice.

Too Much Focus on Your Company

It can seem tempting to spend a bunch of time on your business, accomplishments, experiences, and services in a sales proposal. While there is a certain amount of attention you have to give yourself, too much can be harmful.

Many business proposals spend too much time focusing on the business instead of the client and their needs. No potential client is going to be interested in reading about you for too long. Regarding the value they seek, they're only interested in the parts that suggest your business is the right choice.

You should focus on what matters most to meet the client's needs when describing your business. Whether it is experience, the specifics of the proposal, your business philosophy, or something else, you need to prioritize what information is most important. Leave out anything extra.

If you don't bore potential clients with this unnecessary extra information, you can be sure that they will only be paying attention to the information that should matter most to them.

Failure to Understand the Client

The ultimate sin of any sales proposal is a failure to understand the client and their needs.

Many businesses try to assume that they know what is best for the client and what they are searching for. It can even get to the point of sounding preachy in certain business proposals and will no doubt end in failure.

Other times, innocent businesses also make the mistake of failing to understand the client. This can be because of the lack of communication or understanding when meeting with a potential client. In both cases, the result is the same.

The first thing to do in a proposal is to make sure you actually have an accurate understanding of the client's needs. You can accomplish this through your interactions with a potential client, including asking questions, summarizing your understanding of their needs and confirming this understanding with them.

Second, make sure the business proposal reflects this accurate understanding. This will become most apparent in the proposal itself. Any services or products you include in the proposal should accurately reflect and address the needs the client expresses to you. Make sure you communicate this understanding clearly in the proposal as well.

Making a Better Sales Proposal

Ultimately, a good sales proposal is going to come down to many different factors, some of which are based on the unique circumstances involving you and the potential client.

Do your best to avoid these common mistakes to give yourself a fighting chance. All this requires a little bit of extra attention as you go through to create the proposal itself.

Thankfully, in this day and age, there are additional tools you can use to help you do just this. If you would like a better solution for creating your sales proposals, signup here and give Bidrik a try.

Clear, straightforward, and effective proposal templates mixed with an automated sales proposal system will give you a leg up against your competition at an affordable price.

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