The biggest flaw in your software sales proposal

Someone wants to buy your really awesome, cutting-edge software package/app/solution, and has asked for a proposal. You grab your beautiful marketing collateral and a few old sales proposals, and cobble together a new proposal. You send it over to your prospect and wait to hear back. A few weeks later, they tell you that while they were very impressed with your team and your demo, someone else got the business. What happened?

Having been in this situation a few times— err, I mean hearing about it from a friend of a friend, here’s my leading theory on the main flaw in your proposal: you focused on how awesome your software is, and not how it solves the prospect’s problems.

Rather than a product tour and a company profile, your prospect wanted a roadmap of how you were going to solve their problems.

While the latter approach takes a bit more work– you have to make sure you really understand the problems, and you have to customize your proposal template more, it’s not really that bad. And if you take the total amount of work you do across all proposals, divided by the amount of business you bring in, you’ll probably do less work, because you’ll win more.

What does this mean for your software proposal template? Many of these templates look something like this:

  • About our awesome software (marketing fluff)
  • Feature 1
  • Feature 2
  • Feature 3
Replace with this:
  • About your [prospect’s] situation (what’s the problem, what’s the impact, what’s the desired solution)
  • Issue 1 (and solution)
  • Issue 2 (and solution)
  • Issue 3 (and solution)
You can still use nice screen shots, just make them directly relevant. All the other pretty screen shots that aren’t relevant? Cut them out.
Technology companies tend to be very proud of their, well, technology. Even more than typical companies. Remember, the prospect is not evaluating how awesome your software is, how cutting edge your company is, how how brilliant your engineers are. They are evaluating how well you can solve their problem.


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