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{Selling Power} How to Create a Winning Business Proposal

A business proposal holds the power to win over buyers. It is your best salesperson in the form of a document, because it is on hand for buyers to share with all relevant stakeholders, and it contains your business’ solutions and capabilities.

Every business proposal presents you an opportunity to truly serve the buyer with real value. Yet most business proposals suffer from a few common pitfalls.

First, many proposals fail to deliver what a prospect needs. Your prospect’s needs and your own needs are usually very different. And, ultimately, it is vital sellers change to meet buyer expectations if they wish to prove their value and land deals.

Buyers’ Business Proposal Needs

Mereo had the opportunity to participate in the development of a business study conducted by The Ohio State University that targeted more than 1,000 executives at organizations making enterprise purchases. The first portion of the study asked, “What do you need to be able to sell a business proposal internally?”

This is what the study uncovered:

Business Proposal Element Percent of Buyers Who Expect It
Project Description 100 percent
Solution Description 80 percent
Key Value Drivers 71 percent
Technical Specs 9 percent
Project Plan 69 percent
Three-year ROI Review 54 percent
Five-year ROI Review 46 percent
Budget Impact/Budget Set 54 percent

In the same study, real insights came with the second part of the question: “How often are your business proposal needs being met?”

The greatest disparity between what buyers and prospects need in a business proposal and what they are given appears in the project description (88 percent of sellers provide versus 100 percent of buyers expect); key value drivers (14 percent sellers provide versus 71 percent expect); tech specs (77 percent of sellers provide versus just 9 percent expect); and budget impact (12 percent provide versus 54 percent expect).

Turn Business Proposal Needs into a Compelling Story

Though the aforementioned insights can benefit sellers in focusing their intents, crafting a winning business proposal is more of an art than just sticking in the key value drivers and including a project description.

You are not just selling to a buyer – nor are you only helping them sell to their internal teams. You are inspiring them to transform from where they are to what your solution can help them achieve.

Accordingly, the effectiveness of any business proposal can be vastly improved by storytelling from the buyers’ point of view. And there is no better framework for telling a story than through pain, solution, gain, and proof.

Pain: What problems is the buyer struggling with? Stress these, especially if they persist as the status quo, and illustrate how they can negatively impact your buyer’s bottom line.

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