Wharton professor Ethan Mollick describes ChatGPT as an “intern”. This seems like one of the best analogies so far for ChatGPT, especially when you are considering what work to give it, and what work not to give it.
One of the areas of complex sales that I have seen soak up tons of time from entrepreneurs and senior salespeople over my years is writing proposals. And sad to say, not all these beautiful proposal documents ended up closing big deals.
Now that we all have this new “intern” that can help with the proposal writing work. But as with all things AI at the moment there are some caveats. I don’t think AI is at the point yet for large deals where you should just have your “intern” write the whole proposal but used carefully I think ChatGPT can save you time on this task that few people savor.
Proposal outline creation
Right now, I have found my favorite use of ChatGPT is as a brainstorming partner for content outlines. This goes for proposals too.
The benefit of using ChatGPT for outlines is that it sometimes suggests content areas you missed and because this is an outline not a finished piece you can easily “cherry pick” what want to use, and what you want to “bin”.
Here’s a prompt I found on PromptPal.net (a website that collects AI prompts) that seems to work quite well for a proposal outline .
As a [Your Position] at [Your Company’s Name and what it does], I’m often tasked with drafting sales proposals to potential clients. To streamline this process and ensure consistency, I’d like to create a template for our sales proposals that can be customized according to the client and the product or service being offered.
I customized this to one of my needs as a digital marketing agency.
As a VP of digital at a small digital marketing agency, I’m often tasked with drafting sales proposals to potential clients. To streamline this process and ensure consistency, I’d like to create a template for our sales proposals that can be customized according to the client and the product or service being offered.
I fed this prompt into ChatGPT 3.5 and got this output:
Creating a sales proposal template for your digital agency is a great way to streamline the process and ensure consistency in your proposals. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you create an effective template:
1. Cover Page:
• Include your agency’s logo, name, and contact information.
• Add a title that reflects the purpose of the proposal, such as “Digital Media Services Proposal.”
• Begin with a brief introduction to your agency, highlighting its expertise, experience, and unique selling points.
• Discuss the purpose of the proposal and establish a connection with the client by addressing their specific needs or challenges.
3. Client Overview:
• Provide an overview of the client’s business, including its background, industry, target audience, and any relevant information that showcases your understanding of their business.
4. Objectives and Strategy:
• Clearly state the objectives and goals the client wants to achieve through your services.
• Outline your proposed strategy, emphasizing how your digital media services will help the client achieve their goals.
• Highlight the specific digital channels or platforms you will leverage, such as social media, search engine marketing, content marketing, etc.
• If applicable, mention any industry-specific certifications or partnerships that add credibility to your services.
5. Proposed Services:
• Detail the specific digital media services you are offering, such as social media management, website development, online advertising, SEO, etc.
• Describe the benefits and value of each service, explaining how they align with the client’s goals.
• If possible, include case studies or success stories to demonstrate the effectiveness of your services.
6. Timeline and Deliverables:
• Provide a timeline that outlines the key milestones and deliverables for the proposed project.
• Break down the timeline into phases or stages, clearly indicating when each deliverable will be completed.
• This section helps manage client expectations and demonstrates your commitment to timely delivery.
7. Pricing and Packages:
• Present pricing options and packages tailored to the client’s needs.
• Include a breakdown of costs for each service or package.
• If applicable, offer different tiers or levels of service to accommodate various budget ranges.
• Clearly explain the value and benefits associated with each pricing option.
8. Terms and Conditions:
• Specify any important terms and conditions related to the proposed services, such as payment terms, termination clauses, intellectual property rights, etc.
• Include any specific legal disclaimers or disclosures required by your agency or industry.
9. Call to Action:
• End the proposal with a clear call to action, encouraging the client to take the next steps.
• Provide your contact information and invite the client to reach out for further discussion or to sign the proposal.
• Include any additional supporting materials, such as testimonials, client references, your agency’s portfolio, or relevant industry research.
Remember, while creating a template, it’s crucial to customize each proposal according to the client’s specific needs and requirements. Use the template as a foundation, but tailor the content to address their unique challenges and showcase how your agency can provide the best solutions.
It’s not bad in my opinion. I’ve seen final sales proposals for big deals that did not have as good a structure. I would simplify ChatGPT’s structure above but that’s easy to do as we are only at the outline stage.
Generic vs. custom proposal stuff
If you look through ChatGPT’s suggested proposal outline/template above, you will see that some sections of the proposal will be quite generic for all deals (like my company’s “terms and conditions” for example.) Whereas other sections like “objectives and strategies” will be quite customer specific.
I’d suggest using ChatGPT to write some of the text for the generic sections by giving it some bullet points and perhaps giving it the persona of a lawyer in your legal department (OpenAI themselves say ChatGPT does well when being given a persona.) I would definitely check and edit what it comes up with, but it will probably do a decent job on some legal language for you and save you a bunch of time on that stuff, which is not inspiring to most of us in sales.
For now, the custom stuff is where the human can shine. You can show your understanding of your client’s needs and display your human creativity by coming up with innovative solutions.
If you have other AI tools like Gong or Traq.ai or EpicBrief that you can use to record conversations with your clients, you can save even more time on your proposals. You can have the tools automatically summarize the key points of the conversations and feed these into your “objectives and strategy” part of your proposal.
But it’s not the proposal…
My opinion from years of watching what happens to proposals, is that it’s not the quality of the proposal document that defines if a deal closes. It’s about how good the selling was to all the decision-makers involved in the buying process. I will say more about that soon. Meanwhile it seems like ChatGPT can take some of the drudgery out of writing sales proposals.