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How to prepare a sales proposal?


#1

So I’m finally at this stage. The client would like the proposal to contain these sections. I just have never prepared any document like this so lost as to where I can start:

introduction about the company (im a sole proprietor?)

feasibility evaluation (what?)

statement of works (basically what work am I providing?)

acceptance testing (what is this mean)

SLA (mean time to fail, mean time to repair, I get it)

Pricing

Trial Period

Payment options

Is there a template I can use somewhere? I’m a little bit overwhelmed with these terms: feasibility eval, SOW, acceptance testing and SLA.

All in all, I’m a little hesitant to pursue this client because a) they want to pay as little as possible b) they said straight up they can’t pay up front for the initial customization c) “the managment said they can’t purchase until they have ABCDEF” line.

However, I want to at least be able to send a proposal with all these things and see what happens. I’m not sure if I even should pursue this because it seems like a lot of work for very little pay off (barely $10k / year) for how much value they are getting but is enterprise SaaS deals always this crappy or do I just have a crappy client?

I’ve already spent at least 20 hours just back and forth communicating answering questions, and now finally I am able to get a chance to submit a proposal which seems like it will take even more time to prepare for the entire range of content that is being asked.

Also the client wants to test this for a month to make sure that the solution works and then willing to pay. This makes me uneasy, there’s a lot of initial work involved.


#2

Welcome to “enterprise” sales - bullshit hoop jumping for all! It all depends on whether you think you have a decent chance of winning and what your margin is as to whether it makes sense or not.

If you can get a boilerplate which you can reuse then it might be worth it but with 20 hours invested already plus lets say another 10 hours doing this (and then your general costs etc) for an x% chance of 10k - do the numbers stack up? They wouldn’t for us hence why we walk from these.


#3

Never take on customers like this who you cannot effectively work with. You have to be able to handle enterprise sales to not get taken for a ride by enterprise companies

They almost certainly can pay, the particular person you are negotiating with is claiming they have a small current budget, this very well could be a "negotiating position’ as they’ll couch it, and assuredly not the whole truth.

introduction about the company

Say how long it’s been around, and where it is (city and state, area of town if notable). If it’s literally you operating off a schedule c, say how long you’ve been selling products in this manner if it’s not a short period of time. If so, toss meaningless marking jargon here.

feasibility: How much of a chance of what they’re asking for is likely to work. Be careful to include language that says “with the following specifications” so they later don’t point to this after they’ve all changed scope on you

statement of work: What the agreed upon work is, including terms of what they’re getting and what they’re not. This is actually a good place to put in your counteroffer in terms of functionality. They say they MUST have ABCDEF, you counter with “for that price, you can have BCDE, A and F would be ____ up front, lets do a month demo and then do A and F if needed still”. You are the expert, and if they’re spamming 10 vendors, you don’t want to be randomly doing a ton of work you cannot reuse on a 5% chance of 10k a year. Additionally, they may go ‘OK’ and approve the upfront payment

SLA: What you say the performance will be, and what guarantees you’re willing to literally pay them damages for if you don’t meet them. You are unlikely to be able to offer a credible SLA without insurance (nor should you!). Someone like the Hartford or ACE is likely who you’d need to look into being able to offer something in this vein.

the client wants to test this for a month to make sure that the solution works and then willing to pay.

This is a very enterprise line. If you’re not importing massive amounts of data into a system they’ll be unable to really pick up and leave, you may not have the time to shoulder these costs. I definitely would not consider their customizations that took a lot of time to be worthy of this consideration for 10k a year. This is what A and F are in the SOW section above.


#4

thanks for the excellent answer.

a little update on the situation. the pricing now exceeds 10k after I realized I had to include SLA, dedicated support costs. Since this client was very stringent on the requirement that they have high level of availability and success, it requires monitoring and managed services, which ended up costing sensible number of hours every month.

On top of that I decided to charge for the dedicated hours of support they’ll have access to every month.

Also included costs for worst case emergency fix scenarios, such as working over the weekend or holidays. should it happen, I will be able to bill for it.

That ballooned the end quote quite a bit and it’s something now I feel makes sense and that is deliverable.

I’m just surprised how much of the quote is in the service & support labor fee. The license fee of the software is negligible less than 30% of the total quote, but I guess this case is special because they had a very rigorous SLA requirement and minimal time to recovery.

If they accept then I will go ahead and spend time to write the proposal in bloody detail, however I am worried that I am not incorporated and running as a sole proprietor also worried that they will question a one man company.

If they try to negotiate down the price even more than I can really see that it will be impossible to deliver based on their requirements. I will stand my ground and walk if they insist on cutting corners.

Lots of good lessons learned here if that is, I am correct about my assumptions that service and support makes up a lot of the contract. It also forces me to raise the question, maybe I need to stop working like a slave for regular joe folks paying low monthly pricing.


#5

I see no reason to not file a LCC at least before delivering the document as well. But to each their own


#6

what is LCC?

I’m a total noob with all these business/contract terminologies.

Did you mean to incorporate as a company before sending the document?

I thought that you are only supposed to incorporate when you make like over $100,000 per year for taxation purposes.

So If I were to incorporate is there any place that can do it as fast as possible? I’m in Canada btw.


#7

I don’t know what country you’re in, but most US States have a form of business called a “Limited Liability Company”. They give the owner some liability protection in case they get sued

They typically have very easy to meet formation requirements. Nothing like 100k