Your Proposal Isn’t a Brochure, It’s a Story

How many times have you seen a proposal that looks like a collection of the seller’s web pages? There’s some “About Us” boilerplate, some product information, and some customer logos. (Sadly, some of the proposals like this that I’ve seen were written by me.)

There was a time when this kind of proposal was actually useful. Before the web, or, as my kids would say, “in the old days, when you were young.” Now, your customers already knew all this, probably before they even reached out to you.

Even in these days of “value selling”, when sales reps move beyond features to benefits, your team’s list of features and benefits may look just like the competition’s. What’s left? Price.

Your proposal needs to tell a story. There’s a beginning, setting up the challenges, the middle, where the prospect solves them, in collaboration with colleagues, and with your help, and an end, where the prospect enjoys the fruits of success.

Mike Bosworth, author of Solution Selling, says that the ability to tell effective stories is what separates the great sales reps, the 13% who bring in 87% of the sales.

Take a look at your proposal template(s). Read them aloud to someone, preferably someone who does not work for your company and is not a potential customer. If there’s a good story in there, the proposal should still sound interesting.


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