During the 15-plus years I have been a sales trainer and speaker, I have had the opportunity to read many sales proposals. Unfortunately, most of them miss the mark and fail to achieve their desired objective to help you close the deal and win business.

Here are ten ways to create a powerful sales proposal that will help you increase your sales.

1. Catch the prospect’s attention.

Most proposals start by outlining the company which usually has zero impact on the other person’s decision to buy. If you feel compelled to include this type of information add it as appendix and discuss it only if the prospect wants to know.

2. Discuss THEIR situation first.

One of the most effective ways to capture your prospect’s attention is to discuss your understanding of their situation BEFORE you do anything else. Effective proposals always highlight the problem that the prospect is facing and the impact that problem has on their business. Do this on page one…not later in the proposal.

3. Demonstrate the value of your solution.

Identify exactly how your prospect will benefit by implementing your solution. It can be helpful to use a series of bullet points with each point stating a separate value proposition.

4. Keep it simple.

The most effective proposals are written in easy-to-understand language. Never use terminology that might be difficult to understand. This does not mean to talk down to the prospect, simply means use wording and terminology that everyone at the meeting will understand. Avoid jargon, acronyms, and corporate marketing-speak.

5. Less is more.

Decision makers are far too busy to read a long proposal. Some proposals require a lot of information and detail, especially if your solution is complex. However, the longer your proposal, the more likely it is that your prospect will skim through it and flip ahead to the investment. It is much more effective to write a short, concise proposal and provide back-up information if needed.

6. Stay focused on the other person.

The more times words “I” and “We” show up in your proposal the more it seems that the proposal is about you. This also includes mentioning your company name. Keep your proposal focused on your prospect by using the word “You”. Remember, the presentation is not about you…it’s about how your product or service will help the other person or company.

7. Use titles or headings.

This is critical if you are submitting a lengthy proposal. Headings make it easy for your prospect to locate key information and makes your proposal easier to read by breaking up the page.

8. Use endorsements and testimonials.

Testimonials are still one of the most effective sales weapons and you need to incorporate them into your proposals. Third-party endorsements offer credibility and often reduce the risk-factor for the prospect. Whenever possible, use testimonials from companies similar to the prospect’s; this will make them more relevant.

9. Summarize.

Many decision makers will jump to the last page of your proposal and skip all the details. When you include a bullet-point summary of the services you will provide to your prospect, that person will still gain a sense of what you plan to do without reading the entire proposal.

10. Close with a call to action.

Many people close their proposals with something like, “If you require any additional information please feel free to contact me.” Dull, boring and a waste of time! A more effective approach is to clearly state what you want the prospect to do next. By the way, the next steps should ALWAYS be discussed BEFORE you write your proposal.

Effective proposals help you stand out from your competition. Your proposal MUST demonstrate why someone should do business with you. Otherwise, your prospect will file it in the circular filing bin (aka garbage can) and you will miss the opportunity to increase your sales.