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How to Incorporate the Business Story into the Sales Proposal

If you have enough flexibility in how the sales proposal is crafted, here are a variety of ways you can incorporate stories into the document:

  • Stories from the prospect: You need to show the prospect you’ve heard what’s been shared with you.

    How could you start out the proposal with a story or two that highlight the problem/need? If the prospect has already tried some solutions that haven’t worked, and yours differs from those, where could this story fit into the proposal? If the prospect has conducted research that led the organization to you or the type of solution your enterprise provides, how can you fit this in as a story?

  • Stories about your organization: Frankly, the prospect already knows these stories. If you choose to add any into the body of the proposal, do so only if it significantly increases its value or if the story is a very recent experience that prospects don’t know about.

    Otherwise, add an appendix to your proposal that includes stories your prospect has acknowledged are important to have as the proposal is passed through the organization for review and acceptance.

  • Stories from your customers: Notice this doesn’t say “stories about your customers.” Instead of including testimonials, what customer stories would benefit the proposal? Also figure out which customer stories to include based on your prospect’s current awareness level.

  • Stories about past failures: There are two types of failure stories: those about prospects that chose not to embrace what your organization has to offer (especially those who elected to do nothing) and those customers who didn’t fully utilize, follow, or implement what you provided to them.

    Why do you want to tell these stories to prospects? The first one speaks to the risks of doing nothing. The second is an opportunity for you to talk about what can happen if customers misuse a product, don’t properly implement a service, or ignore your advice. It’s also a chance to talk about how you recover customers when things go awry.

    Sharing these stories also shows you’re willing to be vulnerable and talk about difficult situations so your prospect can learn from them. This humanizes you and your organization.

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