Writing sales documents that win business!
Writing a sales proposal that really works is more art than science. Therefore, the hints and tips contained here will deal more with the essence of a good sales document rather than the structure i.e. what should go where in the document, an executive summary and layout etc.
Each document should be unique whilst at the same time possessing the same basic qualities such as a clear beginning, middle and end. Of course, you can and should tailor the document accordingly but there are ways to do that without reinventing the wheel on each occasion. In short, it should be a document that tells a story and one that fulfils every expectation that your client has in terms of what they are about to receive from you.
How the document reads is vital to its success. Two very close friends of mine are both English teachers and of course I write sales and business documents all the time. So, every now and then we get into a very healthy debate about the use of language, grammar, punctuation etc. (the long winter nights just fly by). They are as one when they advocate the use of, what they call, ‘proper’ English. That is to say, a well thought out sentence that is beautifully constructed using correct spelling, accurate grammar and perfect punctuation. I would agree that this is great when you are learning the essential rules of written English.
However, I would posit that the rules of business writing demand something a little different. Whilst I obviously advocate good use of the above, the result can sometimes be a little staccato, robotic or even too contrived. Whilst syntax and good sentence construction in general is essential, when you are writing for business you may have to sacrifice a little ‘proper’ English for a sentence that is less formal but more readable or user friendly, if you will.
This often helps to make the piece of writing crisp, clear and easy to navigate. The grammar or use of language may not be spot on (for the purists) and you may have to include idioms, colloquialisms or even made up words or phrases (in parenthesis of course) to make your point. Whilst, I would argue, that this is acceptable for business writing, my dear friends will debate long into the night that just isn’t right.
Whilst using specific or proper English remains a debate for us there are many other points that we agree on for what makes an effective, powerful and readable document. The fact that however you use your grammar and punctuation (correct spelling is a given) the piece must be well ordered and easy to read, even at a glance. Clear headings for each section or paragraph should be concise, bold and to the point. This will allow the reader to simply glance over the page and be able to see the salient points easily.
As it’s a sale selling tool, you will probably have to include some form of pricing structure in your document. The key to offering the price in any situation is to be bold and direct with it. There is nothing worse than seeing a pricing structure that reads, “We can deliver this for around £700” or “The cost will be between £2,000 and £4,000”. The first allows for all sorts of hidden extras to be added to it and the second has a one hundred percent swing from the first figure to the second figure and who would trust that to come in at £2,100 rather than £3,999? Be bold and specific avoiding vague pricing structures. List options as well if you need to with the premier option first and the budget version last.
Talking of options, it’s always a good idea to offer up some degree of choice for your client. Whether you are selling products, which is easy, or even services which may be less tangible. There will inevitably be different ways in which you can approach providing your services. Try not to have too many options but enough to be able to demonstrate the variety, assortment or diversification of what you have to offer.
Any meetings with your potential client that preceded you having to write and present your sales proposal will almost certainly have included a conversation about your competition. It’s always fine to talk about the competition but only in the context of your USPs. We never put the competition down of course. However, you can point out, for example, that you are the only provider who delivers inside two weeks, or because you manufacture this part you are always going to be able to provide the same product for less cost, thus providing greater value for your clients than anyone else in your sector.
Finally, it may seem obvious but the person you are writing this document for is a ‘person’. So, it’s vital that you ensure your document has a real human touch and feel to it. Point out the benefits of buying your product or service to them again in the document.
Use their name wherever you can in such a way as to show that you have listened to what they had said in your previous meeting or telephone call. For example, writing something like “Simon, as you already have a perfectly workable ‘main fitting’ which can be used in this project, I have removed this from the costings which will save you X pounds” is much better than simply ignoring that piece of information and quoting for the lot.
Any form of sales writing is vital to generating new business. At Maguire Training, not only do we offer classroom-based courses and programmes, but we are also proud to offer a versatile and intuitive suite of over a hundred e-learning modules on our website, which covers a range of sales and customer service topics.
Have a look at the on-line module ‘Writing Sales Proposals’ which would be a perfect complement to the classroom-based customer service courses we offer.
If you need further information then you could always call us of course on 0333 5777 144 for a no obligation discussion about your training requirements. Alternatively, simply hit the ‘Contact Us’ on any page of our website at www.maguiretraining.co.uk and we’ll get right back to you.
Either way it would be great to hear from you.