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Writing Sales Proposals: Understanding Client Needs - ChannelOnline
  • Writing Sales Proposals: Understanding Client Needs

  • Thursday, August 03, 2017

When you write a sales proposal, it's crucial to understand what your client needs. This is because the sales process isn't about you — it's about your client. If you fail to show that you understand what your client needs, your proposal will be ignored. 

Here's the problem that's facing most businesses: they don't always know they have a problem. Your job is to show that they do have a problem and that you understand their key pain points. Businesses that understand their pain points may decide to release a request for proposal (RFP), a document that details their needs, and your job is to put together a sales proposal that meets them.

Either way, it's essential that you:
  • Study the business's requirements
  • Understand the client
  • Create the steps needed to reach those requirements
  • Evaluate your solution
  • Show how you're better than your competitors
As far as understanding client requirements goes, you need to study the client closely. In some instances, you may be able to find out common issues or complaints that the client is having, or what the client does that they could do better. In some cases, a client proposal will say one thing, but the client actually needs something substantially different. This is where research helps, as it may highlight key issues.

Other options to explore include whether the client has previously attempted to solve the issue, internally or externally, what happened with that attempt, and what they like or dislike about working with consultants. Evaluation is also critical, and you want to find out how they plan to evaluate what success looks like. Naturally, you need general business information, such as who the major decision-makers are, its main products and services, and how long it's been in business.

Even secondary research can help you understand what the business has done, particularly if you check in with contacts who work for the business or reach out to previous employees via LinkedIn or social media. Press releases and other media the company has published can also help.

Understanding client needs is a key part of writing a sales proposal, so it's vital you get it right and address those needs — even if they're not explicitly stated. Adequate research for the sales presentation is required so that you address the real problem and not just the one that is outlined.