As if attracting new clients wasn’t hard enough, most of our business opportunities never become concrete because of poor proposals. They are either too short, too descriptive, missing the objective or simply not meeting the client’s expectations. Here are some tips & tricks on how to make your next proposal a done deal.
Prerequisite: Know your company & what you do REALLY WELL
If you are not an expert at something, but want to sell it regardless, don’t. There is no point in being a Jack-of-all-trades in today’s economy. Instead, find your niche, and master it. Evolve to a true industry expert and know your company, your market, and your business roadmap inside and out.
1. Listen to your client
It is a fact that most people make their buying decisions based on their gut feeling, not figures and facts. Make your client comfortable, show your expertise and make them feel like they’ve come to the right place starting with the first email or call.
Next, you must listen to your client’s needs. Be responsive to calls and emails, and research on your client’s company and situation. Meet via the web or personally and discuss, take notes, and build an understanding of what your client is looking for.
The main rule is: Don’t create a proposal for yourself – create it for your client.
2. Research, research, research
Don’t pretend to be a master at creating proposals. The competition is not sleeping and neither should you. Go out and research, find out how (successful) others write their proposals and why their clients say Yes. If need be, mystery shop them or conduct surveys among their clients.
Also, research on what your client told you. Put yourself in his shoes and understand his goals. Find a solution to his problem, break it down into steps, and make your industry language understandable to him.
3. Create a great format
You can’t know what every one of your clients find visually attractive. However, what you can do is follow some simple guidelines when putting your proposal together:
- Use portrait format for proposals with written descriptions. Use landscape format for proposals with visual examples (including presentations)
- Use proper branding on your proposal. Insert your logo and business details equally on every page.
- Make the first page your overview page. Give an outline of your services, break them down into points, and state your fees at each point. This allows your client to get a quick idea of your proposition without having to read further. The following pages (not too many please!) describe every point in detail using positive language.
- Quote a competitive but profitable price. Use added benefits to justify your fees or offer continuous support after project completion to add value. Check out MyPrice & Ballpark to calculate your fees according to industry standards and other variables. (PS – Quote a bit higher to leave room for negotiation)
- Don’t include a full contract! It may be too intimidating and makes your presentation endlessly long.
- Do include your terms and conditions.
- For those with qualities other than presentation skills, there are Proposable, Bidsketch, and TinderBox to help you create carefully structured proposals.
4. Apropos, know your terms, and conditions
Every proposal has to have general terms and conditions attached at the end. These terms usually state payment terms, project duration, proposal validity and other conditions based on your industry and business. Clarify all main points but be brief as the full details will be included in the contract later.
5. Send, follow up, and close the deal!
There are different ways of sending proposals – via email or via a third party application like Sliderocket or TinderBox. The benefit of both is the ability to track what your client is doing with your proposal, how long he has it open, and what parts are most interesting. Consider this an effective way to target your future proposals better!
No matter how you get your proposal sent you have to follow up. Give your client some time to look through, but do not wait longer than a week to send a follow up message.
Keep your proposals organized. Use Pipedrive to maintain an overview of all your pending projects in your sales pipeline.
When sending the contract over make it as easy as possible for your client to sign. Propose SignEasy for paperless signatures and faster replies.
Once the contract is signed you are good to get started on the project. Share your winning project management practices with us in the comments below!
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