Building and presenting a proposal is an important part of any sales process. For manufacturing companies with $100k+ opportunities on the line, it's an especially big deal.
Getting the manufacturing proposal, Request for Quote (RFQ) or Request for Proposal (RFP) right can mean winning or losing a sale. There’s also another important aspect to consider.
B2B buyers don’t wholly determine a purchase based upon your products and services. They evaluate the potential for forming a trusted relationship with your company and people. B2B buyers want and need to like you as much as what you’re selling.
Striking a balance between salesmanship and approachability within a manufacturing proposal is necessary. These 5 proven sales proposal tips make it easier than you might think:
There are nuances with all industries and companies that will shape the format and flow of your manufacturing proposal template. However, the goal is to keep any proposal only as long as it needs to be. That means focusing on the essentials.
Your sales and marketing teams are valuable resources in finding and focusing on what’s essential to the prospect. They can provide key information upfront and feedback once the proposal is written. It ensures the proposal reflects a clear understanding of the prospect’s pain points and your company’s solutions.
Having specific information is great, but it’s only effective if you know how to leverage it. Use these steps to create your manufacturing proposal:
Set the stage. Don’t dismiss the initial pages of your proposal as perfunctory. A title page, table of contents and executive summary/cover letter could be the only information a prospect’s leadership team reads prior to making final decisions.
Frame your idea, product, or proposed solution succinctly and in direct relation to the potential buyer’s objectives and goals. Be as specific and quantifiable as possible. Include a needs assessment recap or project specs list as appropriate to demonstrate a deep understanding of your potential buyer’s needs.
Propose the solution. Get straight to the point — how will you accomplish the goals and objectives of the potential buyer?
Share your idea first, then your execution steps. Consider diagrams, flow charts, schedules/timelines, plans, design, implementation details, technical requirements, analysis, testing, etc.
But, don’t get so carried away in selling the details that you omit telling prospects what’s in it for them. Remain customer-focused at all times, and clearly outline how the proposed solution benefits them.
Don’t be afraid to include some perhaps unconventional but enticing offers — free product trials, attractive financing, money-back guarantees. Anything that you can do within reason may set your proposal apart from others. It could also satisfy the 45.6% of B2B buyers who want to hear new ideas upfront.1
Show your credentials. Explain why your team is the best one for problem-solving and providing solutions. Include a brief, relevant company and team overview, testimonials, case studies, and any awards, certifications, etc. that demonstrates your expertise.
Outline the agreement. Here's the moment everyone has been waiting for: What are the costs associated with the project? Summarize the services provided, the associated costs, and anticipated return on investment. Include any terms, conditions, and paperwork requiring signatures.
It’s tempting to downplay or rush through the majority of the proposal to quickly get to the cost. Of course, the bottom line is important but remember — B2B buyers want to form trusted relationships, not transactional ones. About two-thirds of B2B buyers find value in discussing their situations with salespeople, so don’t rush — or ruin — the opportunity.1
Reiterate how your solution provides monetary returns, but include talk about how it supports the B2B’s larger organizational initiatives. It illustrates your willingness to mutually invest in their long-term success, not just the immediacy of a particular transaction.
2. Pay Attention to Flow
After identifying the components of your manufacturing proposal template, it's time to define and refine the flow. Your proposal should tell a story that’s easy to follow. If it doesn’t, you don't have the right sequencing.
A solid litmus test is presenting your proposal to someone who's unfamiliar with it. You’ll readily discover if the flow is logical or if distractions cause it to veer off-course, making it hard to digest. Likewise, be aware of if and how well you include information that’s essential in proving your value to the prospect.
3. Take Your Time
As a manufacturer of highly considered purchases, you know that one size doesn't fit all. Your solutions are unique to your customers' needs and your proposals should be, too.
Nearly 70% of B2B customers are lost due to apathy, so your prospect may be sensitive to being treated with perceived indifference.1That said, simply swapping out logos and company names within your manufacturing proposal template isn't going to cut it.
Put extra effort into aligning proposal components with the unique situation, and by all means have your proposal proofread and professionally formatted. It reflects well on your company, and it shows you care about the prospect.
Want to go the extra mile? Embed the proposal on a personalized sales page for your prospect to provide all the information from your sales presentation in one handy resource they can share with the decision-making team.
4. Use Tools That Make It Easy to Close
Customer relationship management (CRM) softwarehas grown exponentially in the area of tools for helping streamline and simplify business deals. Arguably, finding the best proposal software for the manufacturing industry is easier than ever.
HubSpot Sales Hub contains an entire library dedicated to quotes. The tools make it push-button simple to create and send sales quotes, proposals, and contracts. The software even allows for the collection of electronic signatures and payment within your team’s CRM.
Similarly, sales enablement tools and software such as PandaDoc offer many of the same features as HubSpot. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to your manufacturing proposal when you seek out the right tools. You have options for all-in-one solutions to easily create and edit documents that help you close more efficiently.
5. Track, Analyze, and Adjust
If you've gotten to the point where you've decided a proposal or RFQ is worth writing, it's worth doing well. Track your proposal template’s close-ratio performance and continually optimize as needed, just like many of your other sales and marketing efforts.
Make a Great First Impression
A stellar manufacturing sales proposal can make a first impression that could sway competitive advantage. Tell your awesome story in a way that gives you a better shot at closing those high-valued B2B leads.
Posted by Nicole Mertes As Weidert Group's lead salesperson and business development strategist, Nicole heads up the agency's new business strategy and provides sales consulting services to clients.
Prior to her role at the agency, Nicole was an advertising manager at Gannett, one of the nation's largest media companies. With 10+ years of experience in advertising sales, she understands the complex relationship between marketing and sales within organizations.