Glossary » Sales Proposal

Sales Proposal

What is a Sales Proposal?

A sales proposal is a document that you create in order to pitch your products or services to a potential customer. They’re also called business proposals, project proposals or executive summaries.

Essentially, they’re created in order to inform potential clients of how a new product or service that you provide might benefit them. They’re often used in the very early days when a product or service has just been launched, since awareness of it and what it can do isn’t widely known.

Sales Proposals: What Sales Teams Need to Know

There are a number of things you need to know about sales proposals, not the least of which is that they’re severely misused. One study found that less than 50% of all sales proposals resulted in any actual sales, meaning that more than half of those who were pitched said no!

Where Sales Proposals Fit in the Sales Cycle

You might think that a sales proposal comes in at the very start of a cycle, and you’d be wrong to think so. The proposal comes in only after the product or service has been presented, whether to the potential buyer or the public at large, so that said presentation can be used as a reference.

It’s much more effective to create a single presentation, then either add it or link it to the proposal than it is to create a presentation for every single prospective client. More personalized demonstrations can come later on.

Who is Responsible for Generating Sales Proposals?

The sales proposal is usually generated by the sales team or representative, in some cases with the help of a consultant with expertise in the product who can identify any mistakes they make.

Sales Proposal Mistakes to Avoid

All in all, a sales proposal needs to be accurate, but not precise, since reusing its framework for different potential clients is cost-effective. You shouldn’t make it too personalized at this stage.

On the other hand, you also need to include details. Keeping things too vague will mean your reader won’t understand what you can do for them and it will likely be rejected.

Finally, pay attention to your structure. Persuasive organization is a key component of sales proposals, presenting information in a manner which will steer the reader towards purchasing. The key is to let your audience know what you can do for them.

Five Elements Every B2B Sales Proposal Should Include

1.   Personalized Cover Letters

Just because your sales proposal itself should be more general, that doesn’t mean you can’t include some level of personalization. A personalized cover letter goes a long way to ingratiating yourself with a potential client.

2.   Executive Summaries

There’s a reason research articles have abstracts, they’re a way of conveying the general idea without having to read the entire paper. An executive summary will serve you well in this case too, informing your reader quickly and efficiently.

3.   Interactive Pricing Tables

Laying out costs in a way that is broken down by section, rather than simply stating the price for the final, complete product, will make it more attractive to those on a limited budget.

4.   Imagery

Illustrations can tell the story better than words sometimes and are much more interesting and eye-grabbing than blocks of text. Keep your reader interested with compelling images.

5.   Accessibility

Color-blindness, short-sightedness, dyslexia etc. A lot of your potential readers will have trouble reading plain blocks of text, and you should account for that, so they don’t throw your proposal away.

Sales Proposal Software

Also known as proposal generation software or proposal management software, sales proposal software is exactly what it says on the tin – software that generates sales proposals for you.

Whether that’s through an integration with your CRM or simply by allowing you to use a template by inputting the information manually, the ultimate aim of sales proposal software is to shorten the amount of time that it takes to create sales proposals.

Sales Proposal Automation

You can take the above one step further, automating the entire process. This will most likely have to be done via an integration with your CRM or a central database. The criteria for the sales proposals will have to be manually input and may need adjusting as time goes on and circumstances change.

With sales proposal automation, the software writes any and all potential proposals for you, with you only having to double check them before they are sent to check that the computer hasn’t overlooked anything or that any crucial factors were not ignored.

If it possesses machine learning and AI, your software can even adapt to current market situations and alter proposals accordingly, meaning even less work for you to do.


You get a lot of benefits from using a sales proposal software package, including:

  • Access to pre-made templates for easy writing
  • Saving time which your sales team can use to generate new leads
  • Allowing for interactive collaboration between departments
  • Allowing the entire team to track the process behind the creation of a sales proposal, cross referencing results to see what works and what doesn’t
  • Ideally, better results from your sales proposals. Let that 50% barrier fall away!
  • Keeping everything in one place and easy to access again for future reference
  • Being able to potentially use electronic signatures for authentication, saving even more time.


The main features boasted by most sales proposal software packages include:

  • Data and template sharing
  • Multi-tier approval capability
  • Simplified proposal writing
  • Grammar and spelling checks
  • Access control based on user roles
  • Tracking time/investment in each pitch, allowing for you to calculator ROI
  • Cloud-based document storage, allowing you to edit on the go


  • Price quotes
  • Sales pitches
  • Project proposals
  • Business proposals
  • Executive summaries

People Also Ask

How do you write a sales proposal?

First, you need to understand what it is you’re pitching, who you’re pitching to and how what you’re pitching might help them. Once you have those down, you simply write these out in an appropriate level of technical language for your audience to read.

What does a sales proposal include?

At the basic level, what you do and how you can help the potential client. Looking further, you should also include pricing tables, action plans and any social proofs you might have.

What is the purpose of a sales proposal?

Overall, to generate sales. Within that main goal, it’s to let your potential customers know what it is you do and how you can help them with your products or services, inviting them to look further into buying from you.

What is the format of a sales proposal?

Problem. Solution. Cost. Benefit. It’s essentially an A-Z of how you can solve a problem your audience has and what it will cost them for you to do so.