The 4 Most Common (And Costly) Errors Found in Proposals and How to Avoid Them

Does the thought that your sales team’s proposals might be going out riddled with typos, filled with incorrect details, or looking like they came from some bizarro version of your brand keep you up at night? This post and infographic outline ways to avoid these costly errors and find some proposal peace of mind.

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11 min. read

A sent proposal prominently features the client’s name and company—spelled wrong.

A quote goes out with a $10,000 pricing error that the vendor had to honour.

An incorrect scope of work is included in a bid and costs the bidding company $200,000 to rectify.

We at Proposify hear proposal horror stories like these from our prospects all the time. It plays a part in why they’re looking for a proposal content management solution. And every time, the errors are all unique—from a particularly embarrassing typo to revenue-wrecking mistakes in pricing and project outlines—but the reaction to them is universal: never again.

Proposals are your closer and there’s no room for missteps like these, especially in competitive situations. Even a misspelled name or incorrect address can weaken the trust your sales team has been building with their prospect throughout the buying process and end up contributing to deals going dark.

So what can you do? Our research shows you have, on average, about 2.5 days to get a proposal out to stay ahead of your competition. In certain industries, like event services, that turnaround time is even faster; in other industries, you might have a bit more lead time. In any case, this shows you can’t slow your proposal workflow to a crawl while your team scrutinizes every word, number, and punctuation mark.

If you’ve yet to find yourself on the wrong end of an error, consider yourself lucky. Just because it hasn’t happened to you, don’t think it won’t. One day, that luck might run out and it’ll be a costly wake-up call. And an avoidable one.

But, there are ways to be proactive and stop errors before they show up in your sales docs.

Common (and costly) proposal errors and how to avoid them

Before you send your next proposal (while crossing your fingers and hoping that every detail is correct) check out the most common ways that errors sneak into sales documents and how to prevent them from going out to clients in your proposals, quotes, and bids.

1. Typos and incorrect client or product information

Human error is the scourge of sales documents. The average benchmark for manual data entry is at least one error in every 100 pieces of data. That means that the more detailed the document, the more opportunity for this type of error—and the greater the chances it could cost you big.

✔ Pull accurate proposal details directly from your CRM

Keep your CRM as your single source of truth by integrating your database with your proposal software. Pull in the information you need, like contact and company names, pricing and descriptions, and send back info to keep your CRM up-to-date on deal stages and any pricing changes.

2. Poor document review protocols mean errors slip through the cracks

For peace-of-mind, a second set of eyes is never a bad idea. And collaboration is great—until it’s slowing everything down. 9 out of 10 office workers conduct document reviews via email which leads to nearly half of them working on the wrong version of a document.

✔ Set up an easy approval workflow in the cloud so creators and approvers are on the same page (literally)

When you have a set approval workflow and use one tool for creating, approving, and sending proposals, everyone is working on the current document, seeing the same content, and approving the right version to go out to clients.

3. Incorrect/outdated copy or sections

Business doesn’t wait and neither do clients. The deal tends to go to the sales rep that responds the fastest. On average, you have about 2.5 days to get a proposal out to stay ahead of your competitors. But each sales rep spends an average of 30 hours a month looking for sales content and creating their own. That’s four work days wasted!

✔ Pre-approved content in a well-organized content library

A well-organized library filled with up-to-date information makes it quick and easy to find and use error-free approved content. No more fruitless searches or writing something from scratch.

4. Mismatched fonts, old logo versions, and no brand consistency

You have a beautiful website, a thoughtfully-designed demo deck, and then your reps send a bland Word doc proposal with your company’s logo from 2013. That brand disconnect can cause distrust in your prospects and make deals go dark.

✔ Templates that lock down important style elements and build trust

Consistent branding, however, can increase revenue by 23%. Using proposal software to set up proposal templates with proper logos, fonts, and brand colours and then locking down the design elements with user roles and permissions means your proposals look good and build trust too.

The 4 Most Common (And Costly) Errors Found in Proposals and How to Avoid Them

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