5 Basics for an Elegant Sales Proposal Blog Feature
Steve Bookbinder

By: Steve Bookbinder on January 27th, 2016

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5 Basics for an Elegant Sales Proposal

Sales Tips | sales strategy

Successful B2B selling means offering value propositions that are perceived as elegant solutions from the point of view of the buyer. Elegant means "of fine quality", so refinement and simplicity are implied.

An elegant solution is one in which the maximum desired effect is achieved with the smallest or simplest effort. For example, in engineering, the elegant solution takes care of a problem with the least possible waste of materials and effort.

Assuming that you can make a deal work by adding more and more “moving parts” is simply a mistake in today’s business environment.

Simplicity sells. Efficiency sells. Anything else invites skepticism, suspicion, or a lack of interest in what’s being offered. Proceed down that path at your own risk.

"Keep it simple" text flat design

Here are the 5 essentials for conveying an elegant sales proposal:

1. Clear and direct

Make a clear and direct connection between the problem and the solution. Think A to B, not A to B to C etc.

Your elevator pitch is a good test. Two sentences should cover the problem, the solution, and the principal benefit. The cause and effect relationship should be plainly obvious. Any qualifiers and/or disclaimers should be eliminated.

2. Use active language

Stay away from dependent clauses and passive verbs in both written and oral communication.

Simple sentences that put the subject first followed by the verb and the object work best. Conditional language will only jeopardize the credibility of your elegant solution.

That doesn’t mean that you should make false claims—it simply means stating clearly what can be solved, nothing more, nothing less.

3. Understanding

Constantly probe for comprehension and clarity with the buyer. Don’t ever assume that just because the solution is clear to you that it’s also clear in the mind of the buyer.

Without sounding condescending or impatient, keep checking for a critical degree of clarity. If that means repeating yourself or rephrasing parts of your solution, so be it. A clear understanding of your elegant solution must be established before you can actually sell it.

4. Focus on the outcome

Spend more time on the desired outcome than on the process itself. It’s easy to get caught up in selling the process instead of the objective.

The more time you and your buyer spend discussing the results, the closer you are to making a sale. Disputes about the process are a diversion often used by buyers to prolong the negotiation. It’s the salesperson’s job to keep everyone’s eyes on the prize.

5. Less is more

When proposing elegant solutions, let’s remember that less is more. Buyers are much more attracted to value propositions that feature simplicity and efficiency.

Selling is a challenging profession under any circumstances—let’s not make it even tougher than it needs to be.

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About the Author


Buff Parham is a widely recognized thought leader and outstanding coach in the media sales and sales management field. With 35 years of sales experience, Buff has worked at Univision, FOX, Belo, ABC and CBS. He believes that hard work matters and that raising the bar and having greater expectations tend to generate greater results. In his spare time, Buff finds cooking and playing golf to be two of the best therapies for a somewhat hectic existence!

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About Steve Bookbinder

Steve Bookbinder is the CEO and sales expert at DMTraining. He has delivered more than 5,000 workshops and speeches to clients all over the world and has trained, coached, and managed more than 50,000 salespeople and managers. Steve continuously refreshes his training content to reflect his latest first-hand observations of salespeople across industries and regions. Through him, participants in his workshops and coaching sessions learn the best practices of today’s most successful sellers and managers across industries. Steve understands that sales is a competitive game. To outperform competitors and our own personal best results, we need to out-prospect, out-qualify, out-present and out-negotiate everyone else, not merely know how to sell. Through his specialty programs in Pipeline Management, Personal Marketing, Great First Meetings, 2nd-level Questioning, Sales Negotiating, and Sales Coaching, Steve trains sales teams to master the skills they need to overcome the challenges they face in today’s world… and keep improving results year over year.

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