5 reasons why a written sales proposal is essential

Written sales proposal vs Digital sales proposal
In this electronic world of ours, many sales people are drawn to all things digital: proposals in pdf format for the more classic among us, slidecasts and videos for the more advanced, who believe that everyone can read anything on their iPad or PC.


Here are 5 reasons why.





1. Only someone who rarely reads on a computer screen could possibly think it is a good idea.

Because, in practice, there is nothing more tiresome for most people than reading on a computer screen, or an iPad or PC for that matter.

Take this article, for instance:  before you have finished reading it, you will probably be one of those people who find it “too long”… (along with 90% of the rest of the planet, I can assure you). Yet, on paper it would be a snap. It contains just 408 words, meaning:

  • One page in Word
  • A page and a half of a pocket book (one page in a pocket book has 280 words)
  • A single-column article in the New York Times (one newspaper page contains 4 or 5 columns)
  • It takes 2 minutes to read (we read about 250 words/min)

So, a text that is easily read in hard copy becomes a major hurdle for 90% of people if they have to read it on a screen.

2. Nothing beats hard copy for comfortable reading.

That’s why ebooks are only 2% of the book market!

Do a simple test… Print this email and compare reading on screen to paper.

3. Everyone has hundreds of files on their computer:

your proposal won’t be any easier for the client to find than your competitor’s. If it is ONLY in digital format, it’s a problem! 

4. Your client is much more likely to read it if it sitting out on his desk…,

than if he has to find it among the thousands of files on his computer… assuming, of course, it is an appealing document that he would rather leave on his desk than file in the trash.

5. There is every reason to combine analog and digital, because they complement each other.

For instance during a F2F sales meeting, try changing the pace by switching off the computer and inviting the client to refer to a detail in the written proposal.

Not only that, in areas such as price presentation, combining analog and digital is essential.

To sum up, instead of choosing one tool over another, combine them. You need both: powerful, inspiring, visual sales presentations in digital format, and attractive, easy-to-read written proposals in hard copy.

See this news in French:http://presentations-de-vente.com/offre-commerciale-ecrite-indispensable


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  1. I really hope you’re kidding with this post. Business is growing more paperless daily. Mobile and tablet usage is skyrocketing. No on wants to print out a proposal and people don’t want piles of paper on their desks. The last thing I want to do is print a proposal then have to sign, scan and send it back. And what about redlining and changes? Reprint?! Terrible.

  2. Thank you Douglas for the comment.
    Of course your position is highly respectable, shared by many people. I do not print paper either. If it was me, I’d be OK with you. But there are at least two reasons that suggest the opposite. Not “instead of” digital proposals of course (in this blog I mainly focus on digital based propositions), but “on top”:
    1. many people will not read more than 100 words on a computer (i.e. complaining when receiving emails by 100 words, that they call ‘long email’ even if usually people reading at 300 words per minute will do it in 20 seconds) … Curiously, these are often the same people who advocate for 100% digital … customers as well. Or it happens when customers flooded with pdf are unable to find them out, or just forget them.
    2. If all salespeople have their sales proposals as pdf in their client’s laptop, and only one of them has his/her proposal prominently on the client’s desk as nice document to read: he has suddenly been creating a competitive edge.

  3. I agree with Douglas, it’s much easier to find and access a digital document, than it is to look for a paper version, that by now could be under the table to none’s fault.
    I don’t know where you get your stats from about “ebooks are only 2% of the book market”, Amazon, biggest online book store, claimed last year already that it sold more eBooks then regular ones.
    Here are couple of links to support my claim:
    I may not be an average example, but I read and write almost exclusively on the screen, pretty much all day long and have been doing so for years and intend to continue.

  4. While reading printed material is generally better than reading on the screen, soft copies have several important advantages:

    1. You can send them instantly. In some cases, this may not matter, but in most cases, it’s pretty important, especially if you are going back and forth collaborating on a proposal.
    2. As David mentioned, it’s easier to find and search soft copies. Your prospect might leave a printed document at the office before they head out for the airport, but they will have access to the soft copy.
    3. As Douglas mentioned, closing proposals is easier online (for most people). I sign on my iPad, and many of my customers do the same.

    Of course, I’m biased– I created an application to create and close proposals online (see http://www.mimiran.com), but this was because I was tired of the old way. Note that there is nothing about working with a soft copy that precludes printing a hard copy. With our app, you can allow prospects to generate a PDF version of the proposal.

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