The quality of our sales proposal often determines whether we get the opportunity to present and move forward in the sales process. And when it comes to sales proposals, the difference is absolutely, positively, in the details! To ensure your proposal is a competitive advantage instead of a stumbling block, avoid these most common proposal errors:

Incorrect or inconsistent presentation of the prospect company's name. This includes spelling, capitalization and hyphenation. For example, is it NASA, N.A.S.A or Nasa? Coca-Cola or Coca Cola? Is it OK to use the term "Coke"? Tip: check the company's website for name usage in a variety of contexts, including graphic presentation (logo) versus use within a body of copy.

Wrong company name inserted in the body of the proposal. Search and replace has its limitations. Sadly, this gaffe is as common as it is embarrassing!

Outdated content in headers or footers. Most prevalent is having an old date or copyright designation inserted into the footer.

Inconsistencies in formatting. This problem is epidemic and includes a broad range of details: font size and style, margins, spacing between lines, paragraph formatting (i.e. right justified or block style), size of section headings, spacing and alignment of bulleted information as well as image size and placement. Tip: beware when cutting and pasting content to "create" a proposal, and be sure to remove all formatting and re-format to appropriate guidelines.

Excessive verbiage diluting key information. It may make us feel good to write epic prose to describe our products/services, but a novel with a proposal cover simply will not get read. Every superfluous word dilutes the truly important and compelling information.

Excessive boiler plate content. There is a direct relationship between the relevance of information and its interest to customers. A generic proposal with no direct benefit to the customer is not only boring and unpersuasive, it reflects laziness on the part of the sales professional presenting it.

Grammar and punctuation errors. Whether a function of aptitude or education, when it comes to command of the English language, some folks have it and some folks simply don't. Tip: find and designate grammar gurus within your organization to proof every proposal before it goes out the door.

Oftentimes what separates a superior proposal from a mediocre one is attention to detail. Careless errors on even the smallest details seriously undermine your credibility and professionalism. Use these tips as a check list to ensure your future proposals reflect your desired level of excellence and professionalism.