The 15 Second Test for Sales Proposals



People are programmed to determine quickly if something is worth reading or not, especially in the Internet Age. Busy decision-makers don’t have the time to mull over a proposal, they need to quickly ascertain if your firm will be a good fit. The more visually appealing your proposal, the more likely someone will want to read it.

6 Crucial Visual Aspects of Your Proposal

Here are six things your sales proposal needs to be.

1. The document is neat and easy to digest.

Your proposal should be visually appealing and formatted properly. There shouldn’t be any visual aspects of your proposal that make your prospect cringe.

2. It aligns with the brand image of your company.

As we’ve discussed before, branding is a crucial element of your company. With all things your organization produces—sales proposals included—you need to base them on pre-determined brand standards in order to ensure brand cohesion.

3. The proposal aligns with the way the item being sold was positioned.

You want to make sure you’re consistent. What you say over the phone should be reflected in what goes into your proposal. Don’t promise one thing and then do another!

4. It’s personalized.

Your sales proposal should be personalized for whomever you’re sending it to. Make sure that it addresses your prospect by name and includes solutions tailored to his or her particular situation.

5. Important items are formatted in such a way that they are called out.

Keep visual hierarchy in mind: the more important the solution or item discussed, the more visual prominence it should have and the earlier it should be included in the proposal.

6. The proposal advances the items that you’ve positioned during the sales process.

Your proposal should go one step further than any sales call you’ve had up to this point. During every step of the process, you should be adding more and more value. Your sales proposal is the perfect time to do this.

The 15 Second Test

Here’s an easy test you can perform to see if your proposals are “making the grade.” Open your proposal, read the headlines, and skim the graphics. If the benefits aren’t clear after that fifteen-second skim, you need to rework your headlines and images. Make sure your headlines and images clearly convey the most important benefits to a busy decision-maker.

Try to see your proposal from your prospect’s point of view. Would you read it if someone handed it to you? Is it clear what is being conveyed? If not, it’s time to rethink your proposal content.


By looking at your proposal from a fresh perspective, you’ll be able to identify what needs to be more clearly stated and what needs to be more visually grabbing. If you’re too close to the project, ask a friend or colleague to review it to see if anything jumps out at them or if it simply falls flat.

You’ll be surprised by how much a fresh perspective can have on the effectiveness of your sales proposals.