5 Tips for Writing a Business Software Proposal That Wins

The software services business is changing, and with that the software proposal becomes ever more important to your sales success.

Check out the Software Marketing Store

Find helpful ebooks, marketing templates, strategy worksheets, and more.

Subscribe to our Free Newsletter

new Go-to-Market Toolkit

We have just launched our Go-to-Market Toolkit, with guides, templates and checklists to plan a successful software launch. 

Check out the Toolkit here, or you can get a free Go-to-Market Checklist one-pager if you sign up for our FREE monthly newsletter here.

If you prefer, you can also check out our other software marketing downloads.

Software Sales Consulting Services:
Do you wish you had a higher close rate from your sales proposal?
Do you need help crafting a persuasive sales proposal?
We can help.
Click here for our Fixed Price Proposal Review service.

Download Our Software Proposal Template

software proposal template

Software Proposal Template: a huge timesaver for building your software proposals.

You can download it here

After many years of fairly static business models, traditional business software vendors are finding themselves challenged by a host of new business models: Software-as-a-Service(SaaS), open source, outsourcing are all trends impacting the business of software. This can shorten the decision timeline for the customer, and hence the sales cycle. Rather than the traditional steps of requirements gathering, POC, pilot and then finally full deployment.... customers are able to make a quick decision and deploy after a free online trial of a hosted software service, without the hefty financial commitment of a perpetual software license. If you're selling your software or service the "old fashioned" way, with plenty of time to gather and refine requirements, you may find your client making a buying decision with your competitor before you even have put the software proposal in front of them!

Professional Proposal Kits - Accurately quote your projects, multiply your profitability, brand yourself as a top professional and close the sale. Proposal Kit helps you demonstrate that you are the right professional for your customers. It's mission-critical, easy, customizable, accurate and immediately downloadable.

How to Write Reports and Proposals

How to Write Reports and Proposals

Now in its second edition, How to Write Reports and Proposals continues to provide practical pointers for anyone who needs to impress, convince and persuade their colleagues or clients. Using checklists, exercises and examples, it explains how to make a plan of what to write, transfer ideas onto paper and edit them to achieve the best results. There is also invaluable information on creating a good report, preparing to write, the power of language, persuasive writing and presentation.

In today's changing software service marketplace, it is critical to focus on five key elements for a winning software proposal:

1. Timeliness!

Sales cycles are much shorter in the online services marketplace than for traditional software. It used to take 6-12 months or longer to sell software into an enterprise environment. Now business customers can make a software service buying decision in less than three months (often much less). You need to be able to very quickly identify enough requirements and client customization needed to put that proposal together as quickly as possible. One of the benefits of a service or subscription offering is that it can be more easily refined over time as needed.

2. Price your Product or Service Correctly

If you're trying to sell the customer on a million-dollar perpetual server software license, and what they're looking for is a hosted web service with a low monthly subscription fee on a per-user basis... you're going to lose the deal, no matter how well your proposal is written. Make sure you're on the same page as your customer on the type of service they need to meet their requirements, and price/position your product accordingly. You may want to provide a menu of separately-priced offerings, perhaps on a subscription basis, rather than the all-in-one traditional enterprise software license.

3. Speak to Your Customer's Pain Point

Your software proposal should answer a question or address a concern that is top of your customer's mind. Otherwise it will just gather dust on their "things I should read when I have time" pile (we all have them, don't we?). Pick a pain point (if possible, put it in your customer's own words) and specifically address how your software or service will solve their problem. Tie it into your value proposition below. Come back to the pain point when you close with tangible ROI and metrics/benefits at the end.

4. Include a Strong Value Proposition for All Stakeholders

What is the biggest benefit of your software or service to this customer? What is your main advantage against your competition? That is your value proposition. Keep it simple, and make sure it is prominent in the executive summary of your proposal (your proposal does include an executive summary, right?). If you can quantify it (eg, with some ROI messaging) then do so. The more hard benefits you can articulate in the beginning of the proposal, the more likely your customer will keep reading.

Your value proposition must clearly differentiate your software or service from your competition, whether they are a licensed software vendor, a SaaS provider, open source software, or consultancy. Each requires a different type of value proposition.

Finally, make sure you have a value proposition clearly articulated in that executive summary that speaks to each stakeholder in the purchase decision. Make a list of the stakeholders within the client company, and put yourself in each one of their shoes in turn. Read the proposal with them in mind. Have you included a benefit statement that speaks directly to them?

5. Reinforce your Value Proposition with ROI and Client Examples

So you've included a strong value proposition and benefits to each of your stakeholders in the executive summary of the proposal. Good! That means they will keep reading.

But that is not enough for them to take the next step and buy. Your proposal must clearly identify how each benefit is going to be achieved by your software or service, and how you will quantify or measure the outcome (metrics!).

Hopefully you can communicate a strong and convincing ROI, taking into account both hard ($) and soft benefits. A strong ROI methodology is critical to your software proposal's success. Unless, of course, you have such a stunning value proposition that customers are willing to pay for it regardless. And you should include customer examples or case studies that reinforce your value proposition and ROI message also. Even better if you can include some client references that your customer can speak to directly if they wish to.

If you keep these five points in mind, you will be able to write a winning software proposal for your product. Without explicitly focusing on these five areas it is easy to waste your time putting together proposals that don't get read. Always stand in your customer's shoes, and lead them through the proposal thought process from beginning (their needs/pain, and value proposition) to end (tangible ROI and results).

Click here for additional tips to help increase your software sales and/or take advantage of the move to Software-as-a-Service

Article published on: https://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Joanna_Lees_Castro

For additional help on writing software proposals that get read by your customer and turn into real business then take a look at these two recommended books: Solution Selling: Creating Buyers in Difficult Selling Markets

by Michael Bosworth is one of my all-time favorite books to understand the customer thought process behind the B2B sales cycle... understanding that thought process is what will get you to writing compelling proposals that the customer cannot say no to. For more specific help on how to write excellent proposals then take a look at the eBook by Patrick Forsyth on How to Write Reports and Proposals.

It has some good practical pointers on how to write persuasively.

Finally, we also offer a fixed price consulting service to review your sales proposal and provide written input and recommendations on how to make it more crisp, persuasive, and ultimately get you better results.

  1. Home
  2.  ›
  3. Software Sales
  4.  ›
  5. Writing a Software Proposal

Recent Articles

  1. Is the SaaS Model Better than licensed Software in a Slow Economy?

    Mar 28, 20 01:12 PM

    Switching to a SaaS model might benefit an ISV in the current economic climate, with lower initial customer startup costs and ability to scale in small bites.

    Read More

  2. Software Marketing Templates, Downloads and Tools

    Mar 27, 20 07:09 PM

    Resources for download including software marketing templates, tools, whitepapers, etc

    Read More

  3. Software Sales: Six Key Elements to Selling Software

    Oct 28, 19 08:37 PM

    Check out these top tips and templates to help you increase your software sales.

    Read More