A Sales proposal – getting the prospect to say I do!

A Sales proposal – getting the prospect to say I do!

Written By Jeffrey Gitomer

KING OF SALES, The author of seventeen best-selling books including The Sales Bible, The Little Red Book of Selling, and The Little Gold Book of Yes! Attitude. His live coaching program, Sales Mastery, is available at gitomer.me.

Editors note: this is the second of a two part series.

Proposing a marriage and proposing a sale have a lot in common. Both have courtships that may be different than the real world, both want answers of “I do,” and both must live with the consequences after the proposal has been accepted.

In part one (last week), we covered the preparation, the content and the format of a sales proposal. This final segment deals with its writing style and delivery. (Acceptance consequences are your responsibility.)

Part Four The Style…

The skill of drafting sales words on a proposal is an integral part of the process. Some people have a hard time coming up with the appropriate words. Not because they can’t write, but because they don’t know the rules of writing. Here are some writing rules and guidelines to help turn your proposals into sales:

1. Use a headline above the body of text to state your objective.

2. Use short paragraphs. (for emphasis)

3. Edit, edit, edit. Take out every word not integral to the purpose or objective of the communication. Avoid heavy syrup. Half the adjectives, half the prepositional phrases, and most adverbs can be eliminated. Look behind commas to see if the entire phrase is worthy of keeping. Usually it’s not.

4. Keep the proposal short. The shorter it is, the better chance you have of the proposal being read and understood.

5. Use bullets to break up the monotony. They make the proposal easy to read graphically.

  • Use bullets to make the proposal seem (or be) short and sweet.
  • Use bullets to emphasize the most important points.
  • Indent the bullets.

6. Don’t bold your name, bold what’s important to the prospect. Your name is among the least important words in the proposal.

7. Bold stuff to get attention but only when absolutely necessary. Lead in words that benefit the buyer are often the best choice.

8. Edit out (almost) all words that end in “ly”.

9. Avoid superlatives (“est”).

10. Avoid the word “unique.”

11. Don’t make it sound like a rubber stamp.

12. Don’t misspell a word. One man misspelled “potato” and he paid for it dearly, perhaps for a career. Luckily he didn’t have a very important job.

13. Include the extra the unexpected – enclose an article or something pertaining to your business. Something that makes your prospect think you went beyond the norm to serve and communicate.

14. Write a great (short and sweet) cover letter…

  • Don’t make the prospect vomit when he reads your cover letter. Make the letter easy to digest.
  • Keep it to one page and it will be most effective.
  • Don’t say “thank you for the opportunity,” instead try “we are proud to offer.”
  • Don’t resell your product just sell the next action step in the sales cycle and build some confidence and rapport. Don’t use the letter as a sales pitch, just use it as a sales tool.
  • Never say “again, thanks.” It’s not necessary to thank anyone again. Once is enough, twice is groveling.
  • Ask for response by a certain date.
  • Use a nice, non-beg, professional closing like: “Thank you for your time and consideration. I’ll call you Tuesday.”
  • Sign your first name only. It’s more friendly.
  • P.S. If you want to make your plea or point twice, use a P.S.

15. It must read like a book. It must be totally understandable without anyone explaining anything. It must be compelling. It shouldn’t read like advertising copy, but it is a selling tool. A critical tool. It’s your close restated on paper.


Part Five The Delivery…

When possible, hand deliver in person is best. This is the best way to be sure that your proposal will get into the hands of your prospect. Hey, think about it wouldn’t you be impressed if that important proposal was personally delivered to you?

Courier service (in the same city) is second. Someone from your company should be your first choice. If you don’t have that option, courier services are inexpensive, convenient and reliable.

Overnight or Priority Mail is third. The document arrives looking important and urgent. Sometimes a day can make all the difference.

US mail is last. It’s slow and unreliable (unless you use the Express or Priority Mail) If it’s an important, time sensitive sale, don’t even consider mailing it. Do you have any sales that aren’t important?


Here is the toughest rule. Ask someone smart and impartial to critique your proposal. Learn to accept criticism and use it as a learning tool.

Knowing the rules and practicing them will lead to effective proposals. Effective proposals are a result of effective sales presentations. Proposals should be the solidifying factor, not the sales pitch. The proposal should document what has been said and agreed. The proposal should confirm the sale. Does yours?


FREE GitBit… Get a free table of contents for the ultimate sales proposal. I’ll be happy to sent you a powerful table of contents page from a sales proposal that won a $250,000 contract. Just go to www.gitomer.com click Access GitBit register if you’re a first time user and enter the word PROPOSAL in the search box.