Make the Pitch
On Your WebsiteIf your customers make their purchases while on your website, then make the site experience as intuitive as possible. The goal would be to make the purchase process direct and frictionless, and so try to make the purchase funnel include as few clicks and steps as possible. Include very clear calls-to-action so that your site visitor always understands the immediate next step. To avert losing sales, try to anticipate the prospective customer’s questions, knowledge-level and potential objections, and customize your site accordingly. When selling through a website, you can still offer human support by offering to answer questions through online chat, email, online forms and even by providing a phone number. Ways to increase your chances of making more sales through your website include showing your product in action as much as is realistic through a website. For software, this would be easy through the use of a demo or free trial version. For something in the physical world like clothing, enable the site visitor to zoom in on the piece and to view it in 3D from all angles. In addition, include trust factors to increase your credibility. This could include everything from customer testimonials to logos of well-known clients to trust marks of associations, awards and security firms. Invest in high-quality writing on your site. If your customers make their purchase decisions while visiting your site, your site copy acts as your salesperson. In other words, your site copy is either going to make you more sales, or lose you a whole bunch of sales. You wouldn’t invest in a lousy, sloppy, and careless salesperson, so don’t allow your site copy to be anything less than stellar. And one of the best aspects of selling through your website is the ability to test, test, and test some more in order to identify what works in your site and what doesn’t. There are many elements of your site to test. For example, you can test the copy and images on the page, the calls-to-action, and the colors of different elements on your page. You can even test your pricing. Software to help you test your site pages include Unbounce, Optimizely and Visual Website Optimizer.
In a PresentationIn the case that your process involves making an in-person presentation and you are not selling through your website, there are a number of things you can do to increase your probability for making the sale. The first, and often ignored, thing to do is to fully customize your presentation for every organization or person with whom you meet. Canned presentations are often boring for the audience. They also show a lack of effort on your part. What a canned presentation shows is that you’re interested in making a sale, rather than understanding the specific individuals in front of you and directly addressing their specific goals and problems. Try starting your presentation by telling a relevant story. Storytelling can be a highly effective way to engage your audience, and chances are that they will enjoy your presentation and remember your stories more than a list of product features. One of the keys to effective storytelling is to reveal a situation of a buyer in a similar situation to your audience or your audience’s customers. Or you can tell the story of parallel situation in an entirely different industry. Or you can tell an aspirational story. Bring emotion and dialog into the story, and be sure the story ends with a powerful punch. In this way, you will differentiate your presentation from your competitors right off the bat. Prior to physically building your presentation slides, many presentation experts recommend thinking through the stories you want to tell, collecting and sketching ideas, and mapping your presentation on a whiteboard, on paper or in the slide sorter view of your presentation software. If you use slides in your presentation, try to limit the number of words on a slide or eliminate them altogether, and instead focus on large visuals. This is much easier for your audience to immediately understand and digest, and it’s also easier for them to remember. It also means that your audience will actually listen to what you’re saying, as you won’t be forcing them to read large amounts of text on the screen while you’re talking to them. Steve Jobs, a famously powerful business presenter, didn’t even use bullet points in his presentations and instead just relied on strong visuals in his slides. Visual communication is effective. If information is presented orally, roughly 10% is remembered 72 hours later. However, if you add a picture, roughly 65% is remembered. That’s a staggering difference that could mean making or not making your next sale. To help you make your presentations much more visual, you can purchase photos at a stock photography site. Common stock photography sites include iStockPhoto, Getty Images and Shutterstock. Or you can use publicly available photos from sites that allow re-use of photographs with the proper attribution of the photographer. These sites include Flickr Creative Commons and Wikimedia Commons. Just as your initial dialog with your prospective customers should focus entirely on them, so should your presentation. Make the presentation all about their problems, challenges and obstacles, and how your offering is going to solve these for them. Evoke an emotive response from them as you show them how you will help them achieve their goals. Too many sales presentations, although full of information and data, are boring and devoid of emotion. That’s not a formula for successful presentations. Finally, prior to making your presentation, practice, practice and practice some more. According to studies by Cisco, body language and vocal tone account for approximately 63% of communication. It’s ironic that the majority of the impression you make has little to do with the actual words you use in the presentation. It’s much more about HOW you deliver those words. So if you want to close more business, start focusing more attention on the delivery of your words, and the only way to do that is through lots of practice.
In a ProposalIn the case that your process involves the creation of a written proposal, create a proposal that is customer-focused, customized for their needs, and is easy to read. Start with a title that captures the desired outcome. Instead of a boring title such as “Marketing Services Proposal for ABC Company,” for example, go for something like “Revenue Growth Blueprint for ABC Company” or “Driving ABC Company’s Revenue Growth through New Marketing Initiatives.” You can include an executive summary at the beginning of your proposal, but make the proposal about the customer. Instead of boasting about your company and your products, articulate the customer’s situation and the problems that you are going to eliminate for them. Make it clear that you understand their needs, that you empathize with their challenges, and that you can make their lives better or easier. Write your proposal in clear, plain language. Avoid the use of hype and marketing mumbo-jumbo. Avoid the use of corporate-speak and jargon. Avoid the use of acronyms, unless you are absolutely certain that your readers will understand. If you are able to include Return On Investment (ROI) calculations in your proposal, the numbers will strengthen your case. Can you prove that you are going to help them make more money? Or reduce costs? Or avoid costs? If so, prove it to them through simple, realistic calculations. Although you want to provide enough detail in your proposal to prove your expertise and value, remember that oftentimes less is more. Get straight to the point. Make it clear how you will solve their problems. Clarify your differentiation from the competition. Don’t fill your proposal with lots of fluff. Your audience will see right through it, and they may get so bogged down in fighting through all the text that they abandon your proposal text and instead jump right to the price. Many salespeople include information about their company and product right at the beginning of their proposal. Instead, you should actually place this type of information at the end of your proposal. Once the prospective customer has read through the information related to solving their particular needs, they may be eager to understand how your business is able to do what it does. And this is your opportunity to inform them of all of your unique qualities and all the features of your products or services. In this area at the back of the proposal, build credibility by including customer testimonials, customer results and case studies. Include a list of any awards your business has received. If you have a client base of thousands, or tens of thousands, then make that clear. If you’re business is an industry leader in any way, mention it here. Finally, make the next steps very clear. You want to create a frictionless process that enables the prospective customer to buy from you very easily. The proposal is rarely going to close the deal on its own for you. You should follow up, answer any questions clearly and honestly, and support your prospective customers through the point of purchase.
B2B Sales Proposal Template