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The company I work for sends out sales proposals to potential customers.

It is common for companies here to outsource Activity. If they do Activity in-house, they can save a lot of money. To do Activity in-house, they need to invest some money for training and equipment purchase.

We attempt to show this in a table in our sales proposals, but it is hard to follow and customers find it confusing.

Proposals are created in Google Docs, and a picture of the current table is shown below. This is intended to clearly show:

  1. The current cost
  2. The upfront investment required (and the components of this)
  3. The ongoing costs (and components of this)
  4. The resulting savings
  5. The ROI (return on investment) that this is equivalent to

Image of current table showing ROI.

This is confusing though! Customers find it hard to see where and how the savings are calculated, and there is a consensus that there is 'too much' (numbers, words) despite customers still wanting detail.

How can we rework this to make it clearer, easier to follow and more understandable — using only the design tools available in Google Docs tables?

(In saying that — we don't need to use a table, we can easily represent the information in text-only format instead if that is clearer).

Note: this is my first question in this site. I would appreciate any feedback about how to make it more specific/answerable, to fit the conventions of this site. Thanks for your consideration!

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  • Can you get rid of Google Docs? Because that seems to limit you in making a much more effective design.
    – jazZRo
    Commented Jun 25, 2021 at 10:48

2 Answers 2

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It seem the overall issue here is that it's difficult for the reader to find the most important information. That is, how much do I have to pay each year? And is this going to save me money?

So what I suggest you do is to keep what you already have, but to add a summary at the top. This will provide the information they care most about in an easy-to-read format. Then further down the document will be the more detailed breakdown that they will likely need to understand as a separate concern.

Structure your document like this:

  • Summary of current costs
  • Summary of proposed options
  • Detailed breakdown of existing/proposed costs

Summary of current costs

Start you document with the "current state", I think what you have already is clear enough. The important thing here is to remind the customer that they are paying $7,200 a year, as this is the number you are hoping to sway them away from. Make this figure the focal point of this section.

Summary of proposed options

Next, present a summary of alternative options, something they can easily compare with this $7,200 number. For example:

enter image description here

I would say that maybe you could add an additional column for "Total Savings" that shows the difference between $7,200 and "Total Cost". I will leave that up to you if you think that is useful to have or not.

This section can also be used to explain what the other options include extra, like the training and policy review services. But don't put those as part of the grid, it's too confusing. They can simple be some text that explains, for example: "Option 2 includes in-house training". Obviously you need to decide how much explanation you want to give at this point.

Detailed breakdown of existing/proposed costs

Finally, dedicate a section to a "detailed breakdown" which includes the information you currently have. I would say for the most part the information you include here is fine, but a couple of points to consider:

  • Separate out the "Upfront Investment" part. It is important to make this as clear as possible that it is a one-off cost, and not something the customer needs to pay each year.
  • Consider removing the ROI information. It complicates the facts, and to be honest, it makes it sound like some sort of loan. I think the customer can work out for themselves if the proposed options are good value for them or not.
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I think regardless of profession, education and other important characteristics of your customer everybody in modern life uses online shops which provide 'Compare goods' feature. So you need almost the same feature and select any available template which supports this or create your own one.

First of all name your proposals - 'goods' - with most identifying characteristic, say - Outsourced, Fastest Replay and Basic Replay (sorry I'm not a marketing guy).

Then make comparison table which contain grouped features like in your second table but you should add data from the first table to it too thus it become true comparison.

If possible limit numbers to only most important 3 rows - Total, Savings, Replay. All other features could be depicted with absense/availability marks - you may provide detailed descriptions separately. But if you need numbers, remain only totals while relocating prices to feature description, like the following. Remove subtotals.

+------------------------------+--------+--------+--------+
|Inhouse Activity, Component 2 |        |  $1,200|  $1,200|
|($15 x 80)                    |        |        |        |
+------------------------------+--------+--------+--------+

Search for 'Product comparison template' for more visual ideas.

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