Congratulations. If you've made it to the proposal stage with a potential client, that means you've been out there taking calls, booking meetings and learning about how you can help another company accomplish their goals.
Now that you've done the groundwork, its time to seal the deal with a killer proposal. At this point, you've should have already had thorough discussion with your potential client about their needs, bugdet and timeline and how you plan to help. The purpose of a proposal is simple: to formally outline all of your learnings form the sales process and get them to sign (or click) on the dotted line.
Whether you are a freelancer, an agency or a business, nailing your proposals is a critical skill. Here’s how to do it.
Acknowledge The Potential Audience
The first thing to consider when sending a proposal is who will be reading it. Does the primary contact you've been pitching have the final sign off? Will they be sharing the proposal with other internal stakeholders for approval, like the CEO?
Anticipating who will be reading is key. For example, you may want to include elements from your pitching process in the proposal. If the President of the company was not part of the pitching process, it would probably benefit them to see one of your case studies presented in your own words. The finance team will be particular about your pricing structure. Don't assume that just because you've presented this information before doesn't mean it's not worth including again.
Define The Clients Goals
At the end of the day, you client is not buying deliverables. They are buying key performance improvents your deliverables will help provide.
In the case of an inbound marketing agency, the client doesn't care that their spend includes a certain amount of blog posts, web design elements or paid media consulting. They are paying for the a lead generation platform that will help fill their sales pipeline, win new business and make more money.
Before diving into the actual deliverables of your proposal, make sure you reiterate the big picture idea of what your client is buying.
Detail Your Solution
Once you’ve laid out the big picture, you can start defining (and then persuading) how your solution can help them achieve these goals.
Here’s what you should include:
- Objectives. What are the more tactical objectives that support your clients larger goal? For a client that is looking to generate more quality leads, this may include website traffic, the conversion rate of their landing pages and impressions on social media.
- Deliverables. What are you promising to get done? Deliverables are tangible; they are products or services. For example, a content marketing firm would “deliver” content to a client.
- Budget. How much is this going to cost? This can be broken down by month, by role, by fiscal quarter—all of the above. Regardless, you need to show what costs what and when.
- Responsibilities. Who’s in charge of what? Detail points of contact, key roles and responsibilities that help move tasks forward.
- Schedules and timelines. When can this be accomplished? What happens to the timeline if it can’t by a certain date? Timelines refer to everything—objectives, deliverables, outcomes, budget, etc. They include start dates, midpoints, end dates, the progression of each and more.
- Summaries. A business proposal can get long. Include a summary that breaks down all of the strongest points of your solution.
Automate Your Proposal and Presentation
A fact of life: looks matter. A lot. Your proposal and presentation will be judged by its cover, design and overall look, as well as how you organize and visualize information. To help you streamline our proposals, our go-to is Proposify. It’s an affordable, cloud-based solution that draws on past proposals, templates, designs, best practices and more to ensure that your proposal is read.
Here are just a few of the reasons we love Proposify:
- Quickly whip together good-looking proposals with stock templates and reusable sections with a flexible design editor.
- Close deals with one-click signatures.
- Get insight on how your clients are engaging with your proposal, including opens, views and how much time they spent looking at each page.
- Third-party integrations with your CRM and other platforms.