Every good businessman knows that success depends on a large number of factors. Market demand, quality of product and service, marketing, and much more. However, there’s one thing no business can do without – new clients.
Winning new clients can be extremely simple or painfully complicated, depending on your industry and what you sell. One of the most common ways of getting new clients is through business proposals. Unfortunately, a lot of companies simply suck at writing proposals. Even though their work may be excellent, the proposals simply can’t convince the clients to spend money.
Here’s how you can master the art of proposals, with tips based on hundreds of thousands of signed proposals that made millions of dollars of profit.
First things first – don’t actually write your proposals
It’s 2019 and automation is the name of the game. Thanks to a large pool of apps, you can now set up workflows for things you didn’t even know you needed. So why on earth would you spend hours manually writing up business proposals?
Make the work easy by using proposal management software that comes with pre-made templates. Instead of writing each proposal manually from scratch, you can grab a template, enter the main bits of data and send out your next proposal within 30 minutes instead of 5 hours. You will still have to do some writing, but the bulk of the work is already done before you even start with each new proposal.
Make it all about the client, not yourself
The introduction is the part where the client spends most of their time, along with the pricing section. The problem is, many sales professionals use the introduction to talk about themselves and their company, how successful they are, etc.
In reality, no client is interested in that. They want to know what you can do for them, so the introduction (and most of the proposal) should be all about the client. Show them that you understand their situation and that you can solve their pain points.
Make it easy to understand
Let’s say that you’re an agency selling SEO services. You could tell your clients that you will get them 50 do-follow links, increase their domain authority in 6 months and get them a certain number of organic visitors every month through content marketing.
The truth is, the client won’t understand any of that.
If they had a clue, they most likely wouldn’t be hiring you in the first place. The idea is to keep your proposals as simple as possible. You need to be absolutely sure that the client understands what you’re selling. Keep complex industry jargon away and stick to what the client can identify with. Remember, the client will only buy what they understand.
Keep your offer simple
Every good marketer knows that upselling is a great trick when you want to make more money from a client who’s already interested. While this is true in most cases, we’ve found through research that it doesn’t really work with business proposals.
According to our 2019 report, proposals with a single offer sell for as much as 20.6% more compared to those with multiple offers. For proposals with monthly payments, the difference is a whopping 33% in favor of proposals with a single offer.
The bottom line is – have a single, great offer in your proposal – the client will have a harder time saying no.
Print belongs in the past
You probably do most of your work in the cloud nowadays. Proposals have existed for a while longer and many clients have the habit of printing them before making a decision. According to our research, this is something you should absolutely avoid.
We’ve found that once a proposal gets printed, the chances of it being signed decrease by as much as 78%. While you cannot stop a client from printing your proposal, you can do your best by not using PDF as a format and making all your proposals web-based.
Include some form of social proof
Without solid evidence that you can do your job, your client has no reason to trust you. To fully convince them that you can do what you claim, you need social proof. It’s completely up to you whether this will be a testimonial, review, a small case study or something else.
What is important is to have a section where you show the client your work for others, as similar to their case as possible. This will make the proposal writing process slightly longer, but it’s absolutely worth it.
Timescales and next steps – often overlooked details
One of the major errors we’ve found in business proposals is that they don’t include any kind of timescales. You get too focused on the work being done that you neglect to say when the work will be done. Besides the price, this will be one of the main details the client will want to know.
Make sure to have a separate section explaining exactly when you will be able to deliver your work. If you know that the client has a certain event coming up, you can set the deadline before it and increase your chances of winning the job.
This section is a critical part of successful proposals that many people simply leave out. In this part of your proposal, you should give clear instructions on what the client needs to do and what happens next. For example:
- The client signs the proposal
- The client pays for the first part of the work being done
- You schedule a kick-off call
- The first draft is delivered by a certain date
The purpose is to have a clear overview of what happens once the proposal gets signed and add that little extra push to win the client over.
Writing an amazing proposal that converts is no longer rocket science. Thanks to proposal software, you can now automate the bulk of the process. Moreover, it allows us to analyze all the aspects of writing a proposal and come up with insights like these.