Ching-chang, money arrives on the account. You can start working with the client. The client gets results, you get paid, everybody lives happily ever after.
It sounds like a fairy tale because it is a fairy tale. In reality, there are many steps before that money arrives on your account.
We can start by writing a business plan, but that’s an age-old concept. We rarely do it, and if we do, it’s usually a naive forecast of a wonderful fictional future.
Not saying that we shouldn’t dream. If we wouldn’t dream, nothing would happen. But unless you’ve started businesses in the past, then you probably even don’t focus on the right things when writing your business plan.
But ok, this post is not about business plans or marketing plans. It’s about looking into other steps that will take you to the holy moment of seeing money on your account.
And more specifically, I’ll focus on your value proposition and how relevant it has to be to your target market and customer base. And how you deliver it when you write a proposal.
When you’re sending out your business proposal, nothing beats the offer.
No copywriting, fancy executive summary or solid terms and conditions will matter if your offer isn’t great.
The feeling your customer should have when they read your proposal? They have to think that they are dumb NOT to take that offer.
It has to be so good, so valuable, and so relevant, that no other product or service crosses their mind.
And no business plan template, proposal template, pricing tables or case study can substitute that.
Make your business offer on the proposal impossible to walk away from. And once you have that, it’s about working on your copy, and case studies, and the title page, terms and conditions, and all that stuff that comes with professional business proposals.
Because at the end of the day, it’s about the value you bring to your customer base.
And if the value proposition is irresistible, the business proposal can be a simple one-page document highlighting key benefits.
How Do You Know What’s An Irresistible Offer?
There are a couple of things you have to do first. Remember, there’s no free business, you have to work for it.
And my advice is to start with a) prospect analysis and b) competitor analysis.
I am not talking about anything complicated. I am talking about understanding what are the pain points for your potential client. How do they spend their time, what worries do they have, what aspirations do they have, what are they most afraid of, how do they want others to perceive them (status), etc?
As you can see, I mostly described emotions. It’s because it is about emotions. If you can understand what creates emotions to your potential client, you know how to approach them and what language to use.
After you’ve done your customer analysis, you should analyse your competitors and their marketing messages.
And for a small business, it doesn’t have to be a complicated analysis. We don’t have these resources. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be a small business.
Go to Google, and check out 5-8 main competitors that come up. And create a document answering questions like:
- Main marketing message?
- Big promise?
- Features of products or services they offer?
- Benefits of products or services they offer?
- Unique selling proposition?
- Unique delivery mechanism?
- Proof points (case studies)?
And then think what can you add to your offer to make it unique and better. How can you have better deliverables? What are the things that your competitors are not seeing about your market?
And once you have that, it’s possible to reframe your product or service in a way that it stands out.
There’s a concept called perceived value. It’s not lying or faking or misinforming your clients.
It’s about adding bonuses to your client, which add value to them, but won’t cost you any additional resources.
For example, if you have some templates that you’ve prepared in the past that you can share with your client.
In legal practice, it can be agreement drafts. In software, it can be some technical analysis which is done by a piece of software you’ve developed.
But when a potential client looks at your sales proposal, then there are a lot more items listed. So the offer seems better.
And one great add-on is to include a monetary value of each item to your sales proposal. For example:
- Contractor agreement template (value $585)
- Standard terms and conditions template (value $1740)
- Tax risk assessment questionnaire (value $940)
- The total value of bonuses: $3265
And of course, you don’t add the value of the add-ons to the proposal. This comes on top of the main offer. And as small business owners, we can definitely appreciate a bonus or two.
When you’re evaluating your competitors, you should also take a look at their pricing options. Are they doing hard or soft offers?
Hard offer means that they want to get cash upfront. Soft offer means that you can use now and pay later. And this can be a huge difference. Because people want to pay later if possible, as it’s always a big ask to have someone to make the payment.
Some of the ideas to play around here is to ask for a deposit, which is kept separately from your operational funds, and returned to the client or used against the payment once some milestone is hit. This gives the prospect the feeling of not quite paying yet.
And for you, it’s a proof of funds and if the client turns out to be a malicious creature, you keep the deposit.
Your refund policy can be a more important part of your business proposal than you realize. Because each purchase decision has barriers.
And if your client understands the terms and conditions of your refund policy, and it’s a good policy, then it’s a huge factor of lowering the mental barrier of making the payment.
For example, when I ordered the software development of SendQu, it was a big deal for me that as a potential client, I can ask for a refund after each phase of development.
If this clause wasn’t there, I would have probably rejected the proposal.
And what’s more, it was one of the first things I was looking for when I received the business proposal from the agency.
So it’s a huge deal, and there are many ways to provide this option to your potential client.
- No questions asked 30-day refund policy
- Reasoned refund policy
- Proof of work refund policy
- Double money-back refund policy
To wrap up this section, make sure your potential client understands that your business proposal always comes with a refund policy unless it’s impossible for you to provide that. You can make money with a great refund policy. And small businesses care about that a lot.
Simple proposal template?
I’ve now written quite a lot about putting together your offer and making it irresistible.
But the headline of the article promises a quick and simple proposal. I am not trying to confuse you, I have touched these topics for a reason – they’re important, and they have to be part of a proposal template.
Otherwise, your proposals are inefficient. Regardless of the type of business, you’re in.
And if you’re just starting a business, it’s important to focus on your business proposals.
How you write a business proposal isn’t something to overlook, though it sure feels like this. Even if it’s just one page, and in my opinion, it’s better if it’s just one page, it has to be on-point.
Assume you’re selling a $5000 service. And you’re sending out 10 business proposals every month. On average, 20% of your business proposals convert potential clients into paying customers.
As a result, you’re making $10 000 per month in revenue. Not bad.
But what if you had a very good business proposal template. A killer business proposal template. A business proposal template that converts even cold traffic?
If your proposals focus on the key factors I have outlined in this article, and you can show proof (use cases, client stories, etc), then that is what you will have. Because you know how to write a business proposal. It’s an overlooked skill.
And instead of converting just 2 clients, you’re now converting 5 clients per month. Totalling $25 000 in revenue per month.
This would be a different business. A different life for you and your family. Heck, you can even hire people to do the work for you.
Only if you know how to write a business proposal.
(I guess you knew there will be “or…”. )
Or you use a proposal app that does it for you.
And this is exactly what SendQu has built to do. Without having to invest tons of time into building a business proposal.
The fields are laid out for you – you just have to fill them in.
And then, before sending out your killer business proposals, you can record a video to address the main pain points of your clients and give them an overview of the main deliverables.
And it’s effective. It’s easy. It’s just like it has to be.
Because running a business is complicated enough already.
One thing that we often forget to do properly is follow-ups. And follow-ups can increase your sales a lot.
I would even go as far and say that you could probably double your business with a decent follow-up system.
For example, in our tax and legal practice, we used to send out a lot of proposals. And never followed up with clients systematically. We only followed up when we remembered that hey, this client hasn’t responded anything yet. On many occasions, we never remembered at all.
But clients do business with businesses that stay on top of their mind. And following up shows that you haven’t forgotten them. And when you do the follow-up, you don’t have to be blankly asking for a business each time you get in touch.
It can be just asking if the potential client has solved the pain points they had. Give some advice for a simpler solution at first.
I read that one short 9-word email worked the best for some company which name I don’t remember anymore. The email went something like this:
“Hey Sam, did you give up on doing X?”
And that’s it. I guess people reply because they don’t want to give up on things, or don’t want you to think that they give up on their plans so easily.
To conclude, if you don’t have a system for follow-ups, it’s quite likely that you’re losing a lot of business and opportunities.
At SendQu, we’ve built-in automated reminders. But even then, it’s necessary to send a real message from a real person. No automation will substitute human to human communication.
How many business proposals are you converting to paying clients?
How many of your business proposals are being declined?
And how many of these business proposals are still pending?
What’s the monetary value of these proposals?
Unless you’re very disciplined at documenting everything (and investing a lot of your valuable time into documenting), it’s likely that you don’t know answers to these questions.
I didn’t know. I had an idea, but I never knew exactly how many proposals are out in any given month, and what’s the value of these proposals.
There’s a saying that “What gets measured, gets done”. I would add that what you don’t measure, you can’t improve.
If you don’t know the numbers, you don’t have a starting point to improve these numbers. And if you’re not trying to improve your numbers, then what are the heck are you doing as an entrepreneur?
This question is directed to me as much as it is directed to you. Make sure you know your numbers. And make sure you are trying to improve your numbers when you get started with your company.
As a result, you may have the best quick proposal template out there, but without knowing the metrics, it won’t be enough to double your business.
And to make sure I am not missing an opportunity to talk about SendQu, then we’ve built in a simple dashboard to track your data in different time periods:
- The number of accepted proposals and monetary value.
- The number of pending proposals and monetary value.
- The number of declined proposals and monetary value.
- The number of all proposals and the monetary value.
And what’s more, you can also see the number of proposals sent to each client together with the monetary value.
This can be important information to understand which clients are valuable for your business, and which are not.
How long should a proposal template be?
I’ve seen business proposal templates in all sizes. There’s no one right answer. It depends on the complexity of what you’re selling, and what kind of context the client needs in order to make a decision.
And in some cases, if you’re operating on an enterprise-level, you may need to have things like table of contents, executive summary, extremely detailed project timeline, market research, and many more things added to the proposal.
But if you’re in SME world, it’s likely that you need a lot less. Because at the end of the day, you’re doing business with people, and people have limited attention span.
And this is probably my biggest issue with the proposal software options out there – most have lengthy PDF templates that you need to fill in. Often, resulting in generating some random jargon no one cares about.
To conclude, here are the items to focus on when you write your business proposal:
- Introduction/Overview (can be a conclusion of the discovery call highlighting the problem)
- Deliverables & pricing information
- Milestones and timeline
- Payment terms
- Discounts (if applicable)
- Free bonuses (if applicable)
- Refund policy (if applicable)
- Terms and conditions / User agreement (if applicable)
- Signing and payment options
It seems like a lot, but it is possible to have them all on one or two pages. If you do have a long refund policy or you have long terms and conditions, then it’s going to demand additional digital real estate, and it’s good if you can separate them visually from the rest of the items.
Otherwise, design-wise, it will be a lot of text to chew through. And no one wants to do that.
This has been a lot of text for someone who is looking for a quick and simple business proposal template. You came to download a simple template, and instead, you got an almost 3000-word blog post about business proposals.
I can assure it’s with your interest at heart.
Because I share your pain of writing a business proposal. It takes time and effort, and who knows if the potential client will eventually accept the offer or not.
Nowadays, some consultants even ask money for putting together a business proposal. Which sounds odd, but it can be done if you’re re-phrasing what it is.
And to give you a little tip, it sure makes sense to ask for a deposit before putting together a proposal and introduce it as a part of your process. For example:
- A client gets in touch.
- You say that the first step is a discovery call. And during a discovery call, you take notes and say that you will create a map or a scoping file. But to create that scoping file, a deposit of $xxx must be paid. And this deposit is returned if the client decides NOT to use your services.
- If the client decides to use your services, it’s calculated as a part of the service cost.
Yes, you’re out of luck and money if they don’t continue with you at all, but at least you get an important piece of information that they’re serious about the service. No one would want to go through the trouble of paying the deposit unless they’re seriously planning to hire you.
And when we go back to the quick and simple proposal template, then I can’t give you a template, but a recommendation to check out SendQu. It’s engineered according to the principles I have laid out in this blog post.
The core idea of SendQu is based on addressing the pain points of bringing in clients for small businesses. You won’t find 150 different templates. Just one good design is sufficient. And a well-structured proposal with all the key elements included.
Your customers will appreciate this simplicity. And your customers will appreciate how easy it is for them to do business with you.
And if you’re a new business, it’s all about the help you get. From peers, mentors, and tools that make business simpler.
SendQu is a product in its early days as we’re a startup, but it also means our pricing is awesome – you can use the product without paying anything up to 7 proposals (and use all of its functionality). If you send out 2 proposals per month, it’s a whole 3 months that you can use SendQu!
And after that? If you take the annual plan, it’s only $12 per month.
Ready to try it out? It’s free, and no credit card details are asked!