8 Deal-Killing Sales Proposal Mistakes



Let’s make something very clear: proposal activity does not equal sales activity. Just because you have a lot of RFPs and are sending out a lot of sales proposals doesn’t mean you’re closing all of those deals.

In fact, if you’re sending out a multitude of proposals but not getting new business, there might be something wrong with your proposal in the first place.

Here are eight deal-killing sales proposal mistakes you might be making.

1. You Answer Every RFP

Drafting, writing, and designing sales proposals takes a lot of time. If you’re answering every RFP, you’re probably not spending as much time on the most important ones—those that could very well end up as closed-won business.

If you receive an RFP from a company with which you’ve never worked, only respond to it if it’s a perfect fit for you and you’re able to develop a working relationship with someone inside the company. Do your due diligence by setting up an appointment with the decision maker and finding out who your competition is.

2. You Send Your Proposal Too Soon

A lot of sales calls end with the question, “Could you please send me a proposal?” Although you want to be of service to your prospect, you also want to ensure you have all of the necessary information before moving forward with the process.

If you still don’t have all the answers you need after that phone call, tell the prospect you’d like to have another conversation before sending the proposal. That way you can make sure you’re able to write a winning proposal instead of a speculative one.

3. You Don’t Go Into Enough Detail

Don’t assume that your prospective client will remember everything you’ve discussed over the phone. Instead, make sure to recap all of the major points and outline your solution in detail. This way, people reading the proposal that you’ve never talked to can better understand it.

Make sure you don’t go into too much detail however, as this can make your proposal hard to read and absorb quickly.

4. You Talk About Your Company Too Much

Remember, the proposal is about the prospect’s problem and how you’re going to fix it—not about you! Instead of including a lot of information about your company, products, services, and team, only include the features and expertise that directly relate to the prospect’s problem.

5. Your Proposals are Visually Boring

We live in a day and age where visuals are easier than ever to incorporate into our written content. So why not take advantage of it? After all, visuals are processed 600,000 times faster than text and people retain 80% of what they see (as opposed to only 20% of what they read).

By using sales proposal software, you can include videos, images, infographics, hyperlinks, and slide decks that visually demonstrate how you’re going to solve your prospect’s business problem.

6. You’re Making Spelling Mistakes

There’s nothing that screams unprofessional more than spelling mistakes and poor grammar in proposals. Make sure to have someone double-check your work for typos and usage. You never know what a pair of fresh eyes might find!

7. You Don’t Meet Deadlines

This one may seem obvious, but if you’re not meeting deadlines, you’re not getting the deal. Don’t wait until the last minute to have people sign off on or approve your proposal, as this might lead to unnecessary delays. Completing your proposal ahead of time can also save yourself a lot of stress!

8. You Don’t Highlight the Benefits You Provide

It’s important that you clearly underline how your prospect’s situation will improve if s/he decides to hire you for the job. More often than not, the best ways to highlight your value is by outlining it in relation to the customer’s prospect for gain or their fear of loss.

Also make sure you include specific percentages, numbers, and results your prospect can expect.


It’s important to take your time when crafting sales proposals, but make sure you’re spending your time wisely on those that have the highest likelihood of turning into real business.

By ensuring you’re not making the above eight mistakes, you’ll feel more confident when you actually send your proposal on its way.