Ad Sales Strategy: Re-think Your Proposal Process

Your advertisers are super-busy all the time. Simplify your proposals for success!

Most sales people see proposals as the most critical factor of the entire sales process. They truly hang their success on the proposal they send.  This is very flawed, yet very common.  Why? Because we know that the vast majority of people scan and do not really read. That means you are pinning your success on a document that might be 25% read and 75% ignored.     

To compound the problem, most people require visuals to comprehend a complex matter. Your written proposals are probably helping you lose you a ton of business.

Many of you develop gorgeous proposals that have been laboriously crafted. Unfortunately, the advertisers often view the proposals as a “book” and will quickly flip through the beautiful pages – ignoring all the details—and go straight to the last few paragraphs where they know they can find the price.

As a sales executive, I rarely send follow-up proposals.  Why?  Because I use pricing grids, formulas and data sheets that can be shared on location or over the phone. This saves time and eliminates the need for so many follow-ups to the advertiser.

If you DO have to write proposals or if you’re creating pricing grids, the thing to remember is this: Keep it simple. Very simple!  Limit proposals to 2 pages or less.  If you are using a pricing grid, I’d limit it to 2 or 3 sheets max, and leave them with the Marketing Director or business owner.  Become a master at giving the client the tools they need to get the deal signed.

When you create a proposal, consider the reader’s perspective.  It’s not that advertisers are rude and don’t want to read your whole proposal.  But they are busy people and have to get things done in a timely manner.

Forget the fancy proposals and give your advertisers the tools they need to make the buying decision easy. They will thank you for it!

Editor’s note: Ryan’s new book will be coming out July 1st. You can pre-order “Selling Backwards” at

Ryan will also be leading the session, Building Your Digital Revenue Action Plan at the Niche Digital Conference at the end of September in Minneapolis.




More about Ryan: Ryan Dohrn is an executive ad sales coach and has taught over 3,000 ad sales executives around the globe his 360 Ad Sales training system.  You can learn more online at


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2 Thoughts to “Ad Sales Strategy: Re-think Your Proposal Process”

  1. We agree. We started with an extensive media kit that was several gorgeous pages long. It always ended up in prospects’ To Do pile, unread. So we switched to a 2-page rate sheet that we can email as well as deliver in print if needed, & results got a lot better. Less, less, less, is more!

  2. It seems to be the norm that the telephone sales process is to qualify the customer as much as possible in the phone call to position them to look forward in receiving and in turn read your email proposal ‘….. BUT we have a situation where many emails props are getting longer and longer and if it is fact that many potential customers tend to scan an email it is then vital to have COMPELLING COMPONENTS that catch their eye.

    THE FIX – A 90 second professional VIDEO that IS ALL ABOUT WHAT WE DO…ESTABLISHING THAT THE CUSTOMERS AUDIENCE IS OUR AUDIENCE…its short but its compelling. In fact, the video can deliver the very message that many sales people cant and that is the art of SELLING OUR AUDIENCE AND OUR ABILITY TO EFFECTIVELY CONNECT THE STAKEHOLDER (ADVERTISER) TO OUR AUDIENCE (WHICH BTW HAPPENS TO BE THEIRS), and doing it in a cost effective manner.

    MORAL OF STORY – MORE potential customers will view the quick vid over reading a lengthy email prop… if your like my sales guys who have email prop conversions of around 1 in 9 become a sale then by using a video it could become 1 in 5 or 6.

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