Sales proposal – may sound as a dreadful word for any salesperson, especially when you don’t know where to start. When a prospect asks you to send a proposal, you may consider that you have the deal in the bag, however the reality is that you still have a long way to go. The best approach rarely is to open a blank document and start typing. Instead, you should take a pause and think about how you are able to use the proposal process as an opportunity advancement process.

sales proposals best practices

There are several types of proposals – the short ones that only confirms in writing what you have agreed with your prospect; and more detailed ones that require more input. Whichever type of proposal you are on, the winning factor is creating a document that has tested and proven structure which can later be applied to any type of proposal. 

Characteristics of a low IQ proposal

First of all, let us understand the meaning of a “low IQ proposal”. It can be defined as a poorly drafted document that consists of a bunch of unnecessary sections. For example, you try to define your clients’ needs, requirements which they already know, you either speak too much about yourself or copy and paste sections from your client’s website – all of it gives a bad impression and does not build trust.

It takes quite a bit of thinking and experience to draft a proposal that actually resonates with the mindset of reader. Unfortunately, most people tend to start with their last written proposal and start stitching various pieces of content that they can get their hands on and they end up with a low IQ proposal at their hands.

There are some easy ways to spot a low IQ proposals

  • Low IQ sales proposals are hard to write

Contrary to what may seem obvious, a low IQ proposal is extremely hard to write because as you keep reading it over and over again, you will keep finding more and more issues with the content. If the content of the proposal keeps changing until the time of submission, you know that you have a low IQ proposal.

  • Low IQ proposals have incoherent messaging

If you find yourself struggling to make sense of various sections of the proposal because various sections sound different in your head, that’s generally a good indicator that your proposal has incoherence is thoughts. The response for each section must follow the same language/narration style or else you run the risk of losing the reader.  Proposals that are created in last minute by copy-pasting sections from other past proposals generally show these symptoms.

  • Low IQ proposal are often sent back to drawing board during review process

When the proposals go for review, reviewers will provide a plethora of scattered feedback because they could not understand the crux of a sales proposal at all. How many times have you had the senior executive reject a draft because it just did not make sense? Executives generally have a broader perspective and their response would somewhat echo the mind of the prospect as well.

  • Low IQ proposals are of bad quality

How many times have you seen bad examples of proposals which made you think “who can actually do business with this company?” Here you go – another example of a poor proposal. There are many reasons why your proposal is of a bad quality: it does not convey the message, it is not legally and grammatically correct, does not have a structure. Companies who use outdated document management tools have a hard time editing a document because everyone in the  team may be using different versions of the software or it’s impossible to extract a certain data from the document (which is often the case with PDF files)

  • Low IQ sales proposals take too long to finish

When you draft the first version of a proposal, it has to be reviewed and approved by higher authorities – most likely it will be sent back to the draft stage because it will be missing vital parts and lack important legal information. It means you have to go back to the drawing board and start again. Amendments take time, so do sending the drafts back and forth until you get the final version.

4 reasons to send your next sales proposal with DocuCollab

Below we’ve outlined best sales proposals practices using DocuCollab document management and collaboration software.

1. Finish sales proposals faster

The annoying thing which slows down the development of the document if you are using PDF – incorrect data encryption which makes it harder and takes longer to search and find the phrase of the document that needs amendments.

sales proposals best practices It’ll never happen with DocuCollab, where you and your team will be working on the same version of a document in real time. What’s more, being an efficient document collaboration software, it allows to add comments and edit the proposal instantly. Once you have the sections of a proposal or the full template ready, you can start building up your content library for future. Having a content library allows you to input pre-approved segments into your document which cuts the time in half for preparing and sending the proposal. What’s more, a finished template can be saved for future and amended for a client following the standards.

2. Get unparalleled visibility into actions by readers 

Every business wants their documents easily accessible and trackable at anytime. It’s easy to lose the track of a document when you’re sending emails back and forth. DocuCollab allows you to have a full control of the document and oversee its full cycle: from its creation to the final stage. You can easily track and monitor every time the document is opened by your prospect and how much time they spend on it.

3. Differentiate from competition

Being innovative and ahead of the competition should be one of your company’s main interests. It’s no surprise that many companies are using technology and software to organize and manage their business, which is laudable – companies who use document management systems benefit from it much more than those who don’t. However, the reality is – not all companies have switched from paper to digital document management, they are still using emails and insecure online systems to create, view and share their valuable information. DocuCollab eliminates the risk of the document being lost or stolen and speeds up the negotiation process by up to 70%. Send the finished proposal by DocuCollab and show your prospect that your company is innovative at every stage and leverages technology to improve your own processes.

4. Close deals faster and increase revenue

If the purpose of your company is to generate more leads and get more sales, document management system should be the first thing you introduce to the team. As sales teams heavily rely on accurate documentation and information,  it’s important to keep everyone on the same page. With DocuCollab you can automate the workflow which ensures that your documents are properly, categorized, stored and easily retrievable, while you and your sales team can stay focused and achieve the goals faster. Let’s not forget the communication – being able to add comments, notes and make changes on the go adds to accuracy and efficiency. DocuCollab is an efficient document collaboration tool, too. The integrated chat function lets you send a quick message to your colleague working on the same project without having to switch to a different window.


The next time you get a request to send your sales proposal, we’re sure DocuCollab will be your starting point. Instead of searching for random proposal templates online, collaborate with your team to create a bespoke proposal for your prospect; track the progress of the document and securely share the contents while protecting the parts of the documents that are confidential. And there’s more you can do to increase your productivity on a daily basis – book a demo or contact our sales team to discover all the benefits our document collaboration software has in for you.