Do you ever wonder why your sales proposals get rejected?
Especially the ones for projects where you tick every box on the client’s ideal IT partner’s checklist.
The main reason behind not getting the work you’re fit for is a bad sales proposal.
You see, instead of converting leads to customers, bad proposals turn them away.
But luckily, a little fine-tuning is all you need to transform your losing proposals into hits.
So read on to discover the three power moves of writing and presenting sales proposals that will double or even triple the leads you close.
The three key elements of a converting MSP project proposal
To optimize your proposal for maximum sales, work on its copy first.
1. Comply with the RPF guidelines
Most IT projects are complex, to say the least. And so companies invest a lot of time in preparing a detailed request for proposals. In these requests for proposals, clients seek very specific information in specific formats.
You can find these instructions under the “Submission Guidelines & Requirements” section of an RPF.
Here’s an example of an IT RFP with clear submission guidelines:
Notice how the RPF asks the bidders to include resumes of the key team mates.
Non-compliance with an RPF’s submission guidelines results in a flat rejection.
For example, if a project RPF needs you to submit five copies of your proposal, you must submit 5 copies. Failing to do so might mean that the finance team at the client’s firm never gets a copy, and you’re out!
David Kutcher from ProSolutions says:
“One of the most common reasons for rejection is one that you can easily avoid: non-compliance with the RFP. Font size, length of proposal, required questions, number of copies of the proposal… all of these are simple things that could have stood in the way of you and winning your project.”
So as the first step toward writing a compelling sales proposal, make sure you comply with the submission guidelines of the RPF. Read the RPF documents carefully and include all the needed information in the desired format.
2. Personalize your proposal
Another common reason because of which MSPs lose projects is when they use the same proposal for every client.
The problem with this practice is that in most cases, it misses addressing any specific needs or concerns a client may have raised in the RPF.
Not only that, without personalization, you fail to show the client relevant examples of your past work.
Below, you can see an RPF that highlights the client’s key objective behind the project:
In this case, you can use this information and personalize your proposal by stressing on how you can fulfill the client’s maintenance and reporting needs.
In the case of cold leads (where there’s no RPF), take the time to uncover the leads’ real pains and challenges and match your proposal copy to those.
Personalizing a proposal makes it more relevant to the client. So personalize your proposal based on the clients’ goals and expectations.
3. Focus on value
When writing sales proposals, it’s easy to keep repeating that your MSP is the best candidate for the job.
But the proposal evaluators need to know how.
They need to know how hiring you will benefit them, as in, what value you’ll bring to the company, what costs you’ll save the company, and the overall ROI you’ll earn for the company.
So instead of offering just hum-drum technical/company details, explain to your clients what hiring you will mean for their business.
For example, if you plan to deploy some very experienced staff members on the client’s project, tell the clients so. Also, highlight the cost of hiring such staff if the client were to make in-house hires.
Doing so shows the clients the real value you bring to the table.
Joe Latta explains how you can make your value even clearer with value summaries: Latte recommends adding value summaries to all the major sections of the proposal:
“For example, the value summary for a “Project Team” section may highlight the benefits of your team’s unique structure or qualifications and how they’ll reduce the risk of project delays, help identify efficiencies, etc. With one or two opening sentences, you’ve conditioned the evaluator to score the section high.”
Overcome the top (possible) client objections
If you’ve been servicing IT companies for some time, you may have observed a few client objections resurface all the time.
These client objections — when left unattended — become reasons for rejection.
Anticipating the common client objections
When you send proposals to cold leads or even when you’re simply responding to RFPs, your potential clients are always looking for “reasons” to not consider you.
These “reasons” or client objections are of five types:
- Price – the client finds your services to be too expensive
- Need – the client isn’t looking for your services
- Time – the client needs more time to decide
- Product – the client doesn’t think your products or services are right
- Source – the client isn’t convinced if you’re the right provider/company to hire
As the first step toward overcoming client objections, look into your past client interactions and find out the objections that have cost you projects. These are the ones by you need to consider while writing your proposal.
Finding out how you can overcome the clients’ objections
Once you’ve found the top client objections you face, it’s time to find out how you can overcome them.
For example, if you frequently hear your clients complain about budget issues, look into how you can convince your client better about the ROI they’ll gain by outsourcing to you.
Likewise, for each sales objection, map out a few potential ways of overcoming.
Addressing objections right inside the proposal
Let’s say you offer to migrate a company’s data to cloud. And the primary objection you face is the price of your service.
So, a great way to explain your premium price would be to point out in the proposal how expensive it is to actually store data locally.
You can weave the following points into your proposal:
“How much does it cost your customer to be down for four hours? How much could they be fined if an unsecured laptop containing company and/or customer information was stolen?”
Get the idea?
For each objection, think about how you can tweak your proposal copy and win points instead of losing business.
Following up on a proposal
The third and the last step toward presenting a winning sales proposal is following up.
Most RFPs give a selection timeline, so you’ll know when to expect the results. With such leads, things end with the results.
But when you present proposals to cold leads or your other inbound leads, you need to follow up.
A follow up strategy
About 80% of sales require five follow ups. And 44% of salespeople give up after just one follow up.
Given the business that follow ups generate, you need a defined following up strategy. In short: You can’t just wing it.
Nathan Rizzo of the Rx Technology MSP says taking an “organized approach is a tested method to successfully follow-up on your sales leads”. “By setting up metrics, like a [follow up] schedule, you are able to promote, track, and enforce follow-up quotas.”
So create a follow up strategy. Ideally, you should include up to 7 follow ups because reportedly most of the business comes from emails 5-8.
Offering value while following up
Many sales people start their follow up emails and calls by using phrases like “Was wondering if you got a chance to… ” “Just checking…” and so on.
Such follow up usually fails because it does nothing to engage the client.
Cold lead generation expert, Heather Morgan recommends providing new and valuable information with each follow up email to draw the client back into the conversation:
“Share a bit of useful content. Tell an entertaining story, or ask an intelligent question. Say you just came across new information that changes the situation, and reveal just enough to tease them, and prompt a response. There are hundreds of ways to add interest to a simple follow-up email, and zero excuses for sending one that has no juice.”
Using follow up email templates/call scripts
Once you’ve decided upon a follow up schedule (i.e., the number of follow up emails to send and their frequency), you need to write the follow up emails (or call scripts). You also need to ensure that you add value with every touchpoint.
Although your follow up email/call scripts will depend on your services, using successful templates as starting points helps. Here’s a follow up email script Mike Brooks “Mr. Inside Sales” uses:
You can easily tie this email with your proposal for following up while also adding value.
There you have them – 3 very effective tactics of creating winning sales proposals for your IT business. Start implementing them now and watch as you close record deals.