Creating a Winning B2B Proposal

There are numerous ways to lose a B2B sale during the sales cycle but one of the most common causes of lost sales is a poor proposal. To help we’ve listed some important things to consider to create a winning proposal.

Understand the prospect

The best proposals are those which respond to the needs of the client. Listen carefully and understand; their objectives and what they hope to get as a result of doing business with you, the exact scope and performance of the products or services they require, and at least some initial discussions around costs so you have an idea of their expectations and budget. Make the prospect an active participant in every part of the proposal process.

Show you understand

The importance of a clear summary included in a proposal cannot be underestimated. It shows you understand what they are trying to accomplish and frames the proposal document for the prospect and any other members of their organisation who need to review the proposal. It is a way to show you listened and understood what they are hoping to achieve and provides an opportunity for the prospect to correct any misunderstandings at the outset. Think of it as repeating back to the prospect what they have told you but make sure you add extra intelligence and commentary from yourself. We all love the feeling of being understood and taking the time to complete this step will elevate you above other proposals.

Remember it’s not all about you

A proposal is about your potential client, the issues they face, and how you can help them. Emphasise the needs of the client when you are presenting your offer and don’t fall into the trap of focussing too much on your business.

How long is too long?

It is worth remembering that a proposal will be put in the hands of multiple people with different reading styles from the detail person who will read every word to the financially focused reader who will turn straight to the costs page. Keep your proposals to the point and as short as possible, while meeting the requirements your client has established.

Tailor your resume and testimonials

Your organisation has a range of skills so bring the most relevant ones to the fore for each proposal. This might be as simple as adding emphasis in one area, selecting industry-specific case studies, or reorganising the order of referees and testimonials. This lets clients see that you have thought through how your experience matches up with their needs.

Use clear language

While you might like buzzwords, most people do not. They find them hollow and meaningless. It is fine to use an industry term providing it has a clear, understandable meaning to the reader. If you write in plain English your clarity will be appreciated.

Remember the basics

Make sure you spell the company name and address right and proof-read the document carefully – no one wants to do business with someone who is sloppy.

Deliver on time & manage expectations

Customers often operate in the urgent quadrant and it can be frustrating when you work late to prepare an “urgent” proposal only to find they take weeks to respond.
It is acceptable to provide a realistic expectation of when you can deliver and have a discussion around timelines in order to test the urgency. This says that you’ll give the proposal the proper time and attention it deserves but that you also are busy and have a good understanding of your existing commitments.
Most importantly, once you commit to a delivery date you need to stick to it.


A great proposal document can help you win a project while a poor one can cause you to lose even if everything else has gone well. By keeping in mind the following you have a better chance of making your proposal stand out in a good way –

• Understand the Prospect
• Show you understand
• Remember it’s not all about you
• Tailor your resume and testimonials
• Use clear language
• Remember the basics
• Deliver on time & manage expectations

If you have any questions about this article or getting the most from your B2B sales program please contact us on 1300 905 116 or via email enquiries@mjhgroup.com.au