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What is a sales proposal?

In the B2B sales world, there are many steps between generating interest in the product or services a company is selling and finalizing a deal. Submitting a sales proposal to a potential client is the final step in the sales process that needs to be well-thought and well-executed to run a successful business.

Is every new business lead resulting in a sales proposal? Not at all. It sometimes takes a lot of time and work on behalf of sales teams to take the lead to the point of scheduling a meeting and requesting a proposal. But also, creating a winning proposal turns out to be a challenge, too.

There are many aspects of proposal writing that should be factored in. From writing mechanics and a useful tech stack to SDRs’ soft skills of active listening, our knowledge and experience are to help you deliver your sales proposal letters on time.

What is a sales proposal then? Let’s find out!

Before we answer what a sales proposal is, let’s see what it isn’t. A sales proposal is:

  1. NOT a price quote;
  2. NOT an advertising or promotional brochure;
  3. NOT a statement of work;
  4. NOT a company’s vision and mission statement.

Also referred to as an executive summary or a business proposal, a sales proposal is a multi-page document that describes the value, benefits, and deliverables of a product or service targeted to a particular potential customer at the end of the sales process.

A good proposal shows the customer that the seller understands their pain points and has a tailored solution that will fit the customer’s needs, goals, and budget. Using different arguments, a good sales proposal elaborates on the obstacles the customer is facing. It shows case studies where the company used to succeed with the product or service in the past. From the budget to steps necessary to take, a great proposal communicates to the customer what is required from them and what they will get in return.

What is a request for proposal (RFP)?

A request for proposal is a step that a potential customer makes to take a conversation with a sales representative or account executive to the next level. After two companies get into contact, the prospect becomes interested in what the vendor is offering and submits a written request to learn more in greater detail. In response, a sales team prepares a sales proposal.

An RFP outlines the requirements that the prospect expects to be addressed in a proposal like:

  • background;
  • methodology;
  • deadlines;
  • budget;
  • key participants.

It is up to the prospect to include into their RFP whatever they feel like. In turn, it is in the vendor’s interests to follow the instructions and deliver what is expected from them.

Oftentimes, leads request proposals from several vendors and then compare their documents. Therefore, by following instructions to the dot and doing their best design-wise and content-wise, sales teams will make a great first impression and win the deal they’ve been working so hard on.

8 tips on how to write a sales proposal

A quick Google search will bring you a slew of sales proposal templates, but before you use them, learn how to structure and write a sales proposal to get a commendable result.

1. Pinpoint the target audience’s pain. First thing, think about how you can help the potential customer with the product or service. In many cases, it is not obvious; otherwise, customers would be the first to come to you. Do it in a concise manner but clearly articulate what obstacles the customer has, how they prevent them from growing, making money, bringing value to their clients, etc., and offer your solution.

2. Don’t go over limits in pricing and time. In their request for a proposal, potential customers usually mention their deadlines and budget limits. Be mindful of those constraints and reflect them in your proposal.

3. Add an executive summary / cover letter. A sales proposal usually takes more than one page. Being respectful of the recipient’s time, enclose a cover letter or summary. In B2B, many decision-makers contemplate and negotiate a purchase, and not all of them are going to read through your entire proposal. If your executive summary is crisp and to the point, the odds are, your proposal will pass with flying colors. What to include in a summary? The same pain points and the solution you are describing in the body of the document.

4. Follow the structure. There is no single structure for all sales proposals as it all depends on what the potential customer wants to see and what you can deliver. Roughly speaking, here’s an outline you can start with:

  • Intro mentioning the results of your market research and your background;
  • The potential customer’s pain points and your solution;
  • The timeline of how you suggest implementing the solution;
  • Testimonials;
  • Pricing;
  • Next steps for the customer to take;
  • Terms and conditions.

5. Keep the focus on the customer. Although you are offering your product or services, talk about it from the perspective of the target audience’s goals. It is not the customer’s job to look at what you do and understand how they can use you. Quite the contrary, if you want to sell, you must spell for the customer how to benefit from you. Explain what they will get if they start cooperating with your business. Sell the result rather than the product.

6. Customize your offer. Most probably, a proposal you’re about to write is not the first one in your sales life. Then you know that to make a winnable proposal, it should be well-prepared. What goes into preparation? Doing market research and articulating what sets your company apart from your competitors. Talking to the potential customer about their budget and the conditions. Once you know the customer’s expectations and limitations, you can prepare a custom offer tailored to their needs.

7. Keep it organized neatly. After you did the writing and prepared the layouts, ask someone to check it all out with a fresh pair of eyes. Will decision-makers be able to find the necessary information quickly? Is the document skimmable? Is the layout intuitive and logical?

8. Improve its readability. Design-wise, a lot of white space and headings are needed. Content-wise, a simple language free of jargon and professional lingo will do the trick. The presentation should reflect the overall feel of the proposal. Aren’t the colors too garish for your brand? Do the chosen typefaces communicate what you want your clients to see in your brand?

3 best online tools to create a well-written sales proposal

Why is it important to have proposal automation software? Better deliver your proposal as soon as possible after a sales meeting takes place. Sending it within 24 hours after the meeting will boost your chances of closing a deal by at least 14%. If you have no proposal software, either you will get a plain-looking document or you will spend too much time creating the layout and formatting it. 

Besides, sales proposal tools help create not only a well-structured and nicely-written document but also a visually appealing pitch in your company’s corporate colors. Use automation to focus entirely on what to say and how to say it in your sales proposal.

  • PandaDoc has not only the standard offering of a sleek editor, a variety of templates, and customization options but also advanced tracking and BI features. It gives access to their design and formatting best practices. The platform has customer support.
  • offers over 70 professionally designed proposal templates and rich customization options. Bit’s smart editor allows users to create unique documents. Team collaboration is possible. Interactive GIFs, videos, and other curiosities are available.
  • RFPIO is AI-powered automation software that is great for collaboration in larger teams. Intelligent automation does the heavy lifting for you, taking information from the RFP and data available in the company’s CRM. Contact support is available, too.

How to make a good impression with your sales proposal letter?

It’s not that difficult if you have the right sales tech stack and relevant skills. Listen to what the customer wants to get, tailor your suggestions to their pain points, employ the gorgeous automation features available nowadays online, use copywriting best practices, and win your deals. In this piece, we tried to give our take on how to write a sales proposal. If you need more help – whether with lead generation, deal closing or appointment setting with Belkins – we are here to provide it.

Just drop a line to let us know you need assistance.