How to successfully present a sales proposal with confidence
You’ve done the hard work, built rapport, gone through the sales process, prepared a proposal and now what? You have to present your proposal.
Present a proposal in front of real live people!
It’s not as hard as it sounds if you already followed the writing winning proposal process. Make sure you have checked spelling and grammar and formatting before printing. Consider having a graphic designer design a cover page. Don’t use clip art, it devalues your proposal. If you use images, ensure you have the right to use them.
Make sure your proposal is professionally finished or bound or save on a computer or tablet as a PDF. The PDF protects the formatting so words and pictures don’t jump around. How your proposal looks has a bearing on how the prospective customer perceives your ability to deliver on your promises. You want the proposal to look and feel confident.
Presenting written proposals
Do NOT read the proposal to your prospect/s word for word – if you do, you will lose them.
If you are presenting your proposal on your laptop or tablet face-to-face, make sure everyone involved can see your screen. Summarize the key points as you take them through the proposal and allow your prospects to read for themselves. Allow time at the end of the proposal for any questions.
You might want to consider sending them the proposal in advance so that they have time to absorb the details and prepare any questions. The danger of course is that they don’t read the entire proposal and skip straight to pricing where they see the price and not the value.
Presenting a proposal by email
It’s always better to present a proposal face-to-face with a prospective buyer, the reason being, it’s easier to gauge the prospects interest and calibrate their body language. This is not always possible as your prospective customer might live in another town or even across the globe in which case you might have to send them your proposal. You can take several approaches:
- Send them the proposal and follow up with a phone call
- Send them the proposal and follow up with a conference call with all decision makers there
- Use screen sharing technology like Join Me where you present your proposal as a slide show on your computer and your prospect/s are able to follow the presentation on their computer just like they would any other slide show
Regardless of your approach, you must follow up with a phone call and be prepared to answer questions and handle any objections.
Presenting a proposal in PowerPoint
You would have heard of the expression, death by PowerPoint, way too many slides and way too many words. A PowerPoint presentation is NOT a copy of your proposal, it’s a summary. Follow this process to summarize your proposal.
- Prepare a strong opening slide personalized to the prospective customer
- Introduce the presentation with a short success story of working with a similar customer
- Tell them what you are going to tell them – don’t leave them guessing
- Follow up by describing the background, impact and target goal in the next slide/s.
- The next slide should describe the investment
- Follow the investment with your proposed solution to take away the focus on price
- Explain in detail and emphasize how your solution will resolve their problem or help them realize an opportunity. Tie this back to their target goal.
- Tell them again what you have told them by summarizing your conclusion
- Invite questions
- Lead to a commitment
A PowerPoint presentation should not be a replica of the proposal itself, instead it should be an overview of what’s in the proposal highlighting the key points. It’s like an executive summary.
You might consider giving them a copy of the written proposal a day or so before the presentation so they can read it and absorb it. Alternatively give them a copy after the presentation. This is so they don’t read it while you are giving the actual presentation. If you do, their focus will be on reading the proposal and not what you are telling them, in which case, they wouldn’t hear a word you are saying.
Presenting to individuals or small groups
If you have to present a proposal to just one person, you don’t need to prepare a fancy PowerPoint, just the proposal itself will do particularly if the proposal is very simple. If your proposal is more complicated, you might want to consider a PowerPoint presentation on a laptop or tablet. Either way, sit alongside them to build and maintain rapport.
If you are presenting to a small group, then a PowerPoint presentation that you can deliver on your laptop or a tablet might work better. If this is the case, position yourself and your prospects in a way that everyone can easily see your screen. This may mean presenting the proposal upside down if you have to face them therefore you must know what’s in your proposal and your presentation inside out.
Alternatively, you could send the proposal to them in advance so they have time to absorb the details and prepare any questions they may have.
Presenting to a large group
If you are presenting your proposal to a large group, all the same rules apply when you are presenting to a small group. Follow the same structure in preparing your slides as you would for a slide show. But first – practice your presentation and practice again so you know it inside out. Also make sure you know what’s in the proposal so that when asked questions, you can answer them easily.
Do not give them a copy of the actual proposal to read right before the presentation, give them a copy afterwards. You might consider giving them a copy of the handouts of the actual presentation where they can follow you and make notes against the various slides.
- Ideally have all the decision makers there
- Arrive early so that you can get to know the people in the room
- You need to build and maintain rapport before and during the presentation
- Don’t look at the screen behind you – have your presentation set on presenter view so you can maintain rapport with your audience
- Don’t read the presentation word for word
- As a general rule of thumb, no more than 6 words across and 6 points down
- Make one key point per slide
- Use more visuals, graphs and tables than written words
- Know your proposal inside out along with the presentation so you can expand on key points throughout
- Calibrate the body language of your audience and adjust your presentation to maintain rapport
- Questions are likely to bring up objections – prepare answers to expected objections in advance
- Hand out a copy of the written proposal at the end of the presentation to each participant
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