In this article, we’re going to focus on writing and sending a great proposal.
It’s not going to be a technical article. It’s just my experience after sending too many proposals to count.
And I don’t know that much about writing “cold” proposals. Meaning, the article is mostly meant for service providers who first do the call with the potential client, and then put together a proposal based on that.
And this is where the first step happens for most service providers. You’re showcasing your expertise and experience during the discovery call. Or mapping session (however you call it).
Discovery calls are super important as you get to learn about the client and what they need. Otherwise, putting together the proposal is likely a waste of time, as you don’t know whether you’re offering the right solutions.
Which takes me to one of the key ingredients of putting together a great proposal that will convert a client – it’s personal. It doesn’t feel generic. It’s addressing the exact problems and solutions your client has.
And while you may think that personalization is a standard in your industry, I wouldn’t be that sure. We’ve converted many clients in our accounting business just because we’ve actually read carefully what they ask and reply accordingly.
And many times our newly converted clients said that we were the only service provider who actually read and answered the questions. Instead of just sending the pricelist and links to some articles to read.
Thus, the first step is making sure your client feels that he or she is being heard and listened to. Sounds a lot like relationship advice? Well, because it is a relationship.
And only once you’ve had the chance to talk to your potential client, it’s time to focus on putting together a proposal.
Creating The Proposal (With A Proposal App)
As much as I would like for all our proposals to convert, it’s not the case. Every industry has competition. And we never wanted to be the cheapest priced service. Hence, during the proposal creation, the focus is on doing a minimum for maximum results.
What do I mean by that? Using the right tools to draft the proposal. This minimises the time spent on drafting a proposal, automates the invoicing process, and is both personal and great looking.
But first, let’s think about what the proposal should actually consist of.
Intro – I think each proposal should have an intro which highlights the discussion that was had with the client. The problem and the solution. An intro can be added either as a video, audio or in a written form.
Deliverables/Services – Services being offered with descriptions. Some people want to draft 20-page proposals and maybe for some industries it’s the way to go, but not for me. I don’t want to write all that stuff (and you have to make it personal as well) and spend 7-hours on making it ready. I like simplicity. And as a client, I hate receiving a document which takes me 2 hours to read and understand.
Prices – Written in a clear way. Not in a way that I have to calculate or figure out what’s applicable and what’s not. Any tax added? It needs to be understandable.
Payment Terms – Together with prices, I want to clearly understand the payment terms. Is it all paid in advance? Or is it paid in parts? A subscription is added?
Milestones – If it’s a service which consists of multiple steps and processes, I’d like to understand how it works. What is done during the first week, the second, etc? And even better, if payment is connected to a specific milestone, I want to know that.
Payment Methods – How can I pay? When do I have to pay? It’s great if I have options as well – whether it’s Stripe, Paypal or a bank wire. Or bitcoin. And can I get an invoice for the accounting? I know these things can seem somewhat trivial, but the goal is to streamline the process and take out any guesswork.
Bonuses – You want to make sure your potential client understands that you’re giving them a great deal. Hence, it’s wise to add free bonuses together with the actual monetary value of these bonuses. As a result, you’re charging $4000 for the service, while the value of the proposal is $7850.
Social Proof – Any social proof in terms of testimonials, stories of your past clients, etc, are a great value add. And social proof is one of the most powerful trust creators in any market.
Terms & Conditions / Scoping file – If your sales process starts with creating a scoping file, or you have a standard client agreement or T&C which clients have to accept, then it’s important that you can add this to your proposal.
Accepting / Signing The Proposal – Once the client is ready to accept, it’s great if they don’t have to print & scan any document. It’s just pointless friction. And some online proposal apps have that feature built-in.
Design – OK, I fully understand it’s not part of the content of the proposal. But then again, you’re communicating who you are and what your brand stands for at every step of the process. Most proposal apps out there provide you with generic corporate-looking templates. I am not a fan of these, but they don’t look too bad either. And some have pretty solid designs.
These are my thoughts on how proposals should be structured and sent. And I want to make it as streamlined as possible. That’s why I am building SendQu proposal app. Focusing on simplicity, user experience and converting clients. Everything that’s written above, including recording audio and video messages, automated checkouts, adding scoping files, etc, are all part of SendQu features.
If you want to read about other proposal apps I’ve reviewed, check out this blog post as well. Hope you find something useful.
And if you want to be part of my journey, to learn how I build SendQu and all the mistakes & wins I have on the way, don’t forget to sign-up for the waitlist!