How to Start a Sales Proposal to Suck Prospects Right In


I’m sure you know this already – to get prospects to read your sales proposals, you need to engage them from the opening line.

But I’m also certain that you struggle with it, right?

If that’s the case, then I have something special for you – a list of formulas that will show you how to start a sales proposal and suck prospects right in.

These formulas will help you write engaging sales proposal introductions, and compel prospects to keep on reading.

Intrigued? Then let’s not waste any more time.

Bonus: Get the extended version of this article with additional formula that will help you engage prospects with just a single sentence! Download it now »

Why You Must Write a Strong Proposal Introduction

Think about it – how often do you read any content past the opening lines?

Well, if you’re like most Internet users, then probably not that often.

In fact, according to the Nielsen Norman Group, as many as 17% of visitors spend no more than 4 seconds on a page.  And only 4% read content for longer than 10 minutes.

Scary, huh?

Unfortunately, there’s more… According to the same source, even if they decide to read the content, users typically consume no more than 20% of the text on an average page.

And here’s an interesting fact – readers typically make up their mind about whether to stay and read the content or abandon it in the first couple of seconds on a page (source).

time on page and visit length

(image source)

In other words – it’s the introduction that engages and compels prospects to keep on reading.

That’s one reason why many websites set their opening paragraphs in a larger font. They know that bigger text is going to attract a person’s attention. And providing that the writer did a good job with creating an engaging introduction, draw them to read the rest.

In fact, one study proved that 95% of people who landed on a page with the introduction set in bold viewed the rest or at least major part of the article.

large introductions attract attention

So, let’s take a look at a couple of proven formulas to start a sales proposal to suck a prospect right in.

(Note, some of these formulas are simply copywriting tricks, writers have been using time and time again to engage their audiences, and compel them to take action.)

#1. Ask a Question to Grab Your Prospect’s Attention

Tell me – what do you think is the worst situation in which a prospect could read your sales proposal?

For me, it’s when they’re busy, immersed in some other tasks or projects.

Sure, they might still glance at your document. But I bet that they won’t invest much time into it.

Unless you grab their attention, that is.

And here’s a super simple, yet highly effective way to do it – open the proposal with a direct question that’s relevant to their current situation. Here’s why.

Questions have an incredible impact on us.

  • For one, they immediately catch our attention. And that’s regardless of how busy we are. In fact, the moment your brain realizes that someone’s asking you a question, it immediately starts paying attention to it.
  • Questions also make us process the message more intensely. As Henneke Duistermaat points out:

“[Questions] make them feel independent. They can make up their own mind and endorse your message with more conviction.”

  • Questions also engage prospects as if in a conversion. Although they might be sitting in an office miles and miles away from you, reading your question will make a prospect feel as if you were right there, engaged in a direct conversation with them.

So, start your sales proposal with a question that relates to your prospect’s current situation.

Additional Resource: In this article on AWAI, Jeffrey Gitomer shares a nice list of questions that could get you started.

example sales proposal

(A mockup of question-based sales proposal introduction page)

#2. Use a Story to Paint a Picture in the Prospect’s Mind

If you’ve been selling for a while, then I’m sure you already know this:

Stories sell your product or service better than any sales pitch.

It’s a proven fact. The neuroeconomics pioneer, Paul Zak, discovered that even the simplest stories trigger a chemical response in the brain that makes us more empathic, and persuade us to take action.

In the sales setting, eliciting more empathy in a prospect might help them increase trust in your brand, offering, and look more favorably on your proposal.

There’s another benefit of starting the sales proposal with a story – it reduces the barrier to sales messages. Since a story transports a person into another world, they drop their natural skepticism towards any pitch. They’re also less likely to question the story.

As Dr. Jeremy Dean from PSYBlog explains:

“Stories work so well to persuade us because, if they’re well told, we get swept up in them, we are transported inside them.”

How to quickly write a story into your introduction?

Although writing stories is an art in itself, there are some simple techniques that you could use to start a sales proposal by painting a picture in the prospect’s mind.

For example, start your introduction with the word “Imagine.And then, follow with a description of how the prospect’s business will look like after they’ve implemented a solution like yours. Reading this will make the prospect immediately picture the scene you’re describing, and transport them into the story.

#3. State Cold Hard Facts That Are Relevant to the Prospect’s Situation

73.6% of all statistics are made up. Potentially.

Nonetheless, we pay attention to the facts and numbers we see in headlines or hear on the media.

Why? For one, because given the easy access to all kinds of data, we’ve become dependent on numbers to guide our decisions.

This is particularly true in business. We use data and statistics to convince others to our ideas, prove our points, and inform our choices.

It, therefore, comes as no surprise that stats and facts catch our attention. Fast.

So, another way to grab a prospect’s attention is by starting the introduction with a statistic with which they’ll be likely to engage.

cold hard facts-based opening example

(This is my document using the cold hard facts formula in the introduction)

#4. Use Visual Comparison to Highlight Benefits of Your Offering

This strategy works particularly well for selling high-price ticket items.

Show your prospects how their business would look like if they chose a cheap solution (or none at all). And then, compare it with how it would look like if they’d avail of what you’re offering.

The purpose of this comparison is to achieve two things:

  • Immediately catch their attention by showcasing benefits of your product
  • Make the price obsolete by presenting the perfect world that’s within their reach.

For example, an image like this would quickly engage anyone struggling with attracting more visitors to their site.


Why opening with a comparison visual works?

One. Because we process images faster than text. Even a quick glance at an image is often enough to understand its meaning.

Two. We’re getting more accustomed to visual communications. Images are becoming a universal language we understand similarly, regardless of our cultural background and other factors.

Bonus: Get the extended version of this article with additional formula that will help you engage prospects with just a single sentence! Download it now »