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Sales Proposal
A sales proposal offers a product or service to a potential client. It is a persuasive document and every effort
should be made to create a reader-friendly document: rely upon organization, editing skills, and typography.
1. Purpose: This important document has two purposes:
A. To persuade the reader that your service or product is valuable.
I. Explain the strengths, costs, and quality of your product.
II. Compare your service or product with what your audience is currently using.
B. To persuade the reader that your firm is the one for the job.
I. Prove that your company is qualified.
II. Stress the advantages that your company has over the competition.
2. Characteristics: A sales proposal typically makes a logical appeal, supported with facts, statistics, and
examples. A sales proposal may be made in response to a request for proposal (RFP) or on your
company’s own initiative. A typical sales proposal will do the following:
A. Provide a detailed consideration of the specific benefits that the client will receive from the
product or service.
B. Focus on both the primary audience (decision-makers) and secondary audiences (technical
experts who will evaluate specific aspects of the proposal and make recommendations to the
decision-makers).
3. Short Proposals: There is no single way to write a sales proposal; some may require hundreds of pages,
while others may be as short as a page or two. However, proposal writers should scrupulously follow the
document specifications required by the business or agency whose business they seek. For instance, a
proposal seeking a Department of Agriculture contract should comply with the agency’s preferences as
stated in its request for proposals. Absent specific directions to the contrary, a short sales proposal (several
pages) may proceed according to the following generalized organizational flow:
A. Introduce the reasons for the proposal:
I. State the purpose of the document.
II. Describe the problem or opportunity that the document will address, including facts that
will allow the audience to appreciate the benefits of solving the problem.
B. In body paragraphs, describe the details of your plan for solving the problem or addressing the
opportunity.
C. Present the specific service or product that you are offering.
D. Include a schedule for delivering the product or completing the work. For longer jobs, the
schedule may be broken down into phases, each with its own time element.
C. List the materials that you plan to use and to provide a breakdown of major costs.
D. End by emphasizing the benefits of your product or service, seeking to distinguish it from any
offers that may have been submitted by competitors.
E. You may express appreciation for the opportunity to present the proposal.
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Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion. | Cyril Northcote Parkinson/Parkinson’s Law.