It’s no secret that writing consistently successful proposals is an art.
Used well, however, a proposal can be a great marketing tool. In fact, if you really play your cards right, you can even sell your proposals as a service.
Unfortunately, there’s not a great deal of help on the web on writing kick-ass proposals.
Fear not, my friend! Over the past few years, I’ve come up with a pretty consistent proposal framework that seems to work well.
I like to do my proposals by video with a supplemental PDF. I find that it makes it more personal than just a PDF document.
Most of my proposal videos last between 3 and 7 minutes, and I supplement the talking with captions and slides (I use Camtasia Studio to put everything together).
State the pain point
Start by briefly reinforcing the pain your prospect is feeling. You don’t need to go into too much detail, but just enough to make the prospect feel like you understand their situation.
Introduce your leadership
Whether you’re a B2B or B2C company, remember that you’re ultimately dealing with a human at the other end.
Knowing who’s at the wheel of their project will make your prospect more comfortable with writing a big ole check.
Your process & tools
This doesn’t have to be a long, drawn-out flowchart full of technical jargon. Just outline the major stages and milestones in plain English.
Also describe what technologies you use to perform the work – and why. It makes you look like you know what you’re talking about.
Remember to keep this part relevant to the project. It’s easy to carried away and start to show off, but it’s critical that you respect your prospect’s time at this stage (at all times, for that matter).
Relevant case study
Next you should include a case study that shows you can get results. The client doesn’t have to be in the same industry but make sure you ask permission before using their data for your proposals.
Ideally, you should include images (such as before/after shots) and a testimonial from the client (include a picture for best results).
You should provide two options in your pricing section: one high-end (with all the gizmos and services), and one medium (a little leaner). Don’t break down the pricing by line item, but do list as specifically as possible the scope of work for each pricing tier.
You should also include the billing terms here so that there are no nasty surprises.
A Final Testimonial
I like to include a second testimonial after the pricing information (not a full case study). It’ll add that little bit of extra trust you need to push the prospect over the hump.
Just like with any sales copy, you should include a strong call to action here. “Call me to review the proposal” works very well. Keep it simple, stupid.
Other Things to Remember
Charge What You’re Worth
The biggest mistake you can make when writing a proposal is to lowball yourself to compete with offshore companies and scammers. If you do this, you won’t be able to provide the best service possible and run the risk of losing referrals in the future.
Become a Resource
If you end up losing the bid, become a resource to the prospect. This makes you seem gracious, and will keep you at the top of their list if their chosen provider doesn’t perform.
If you promise to have a proposal to the prospect in two days, you’d better deliver. There’s nothing that says that you don’t want the business more than a late proposal.
A great way to make sure it’s easy to put a proposal together quickly is to keep the common parts ready to go in a framework (I have the process and introduction to the team sections recorded and ready to go).
But don’t get carried away with this. Remember to…
Your prospect will sniff out a generic proposal in a heartbeat. Tailor your bid to the prospect and their needs, or be beaten by the company that does.
It’s all about your prospect’s business and its needs and if your proposal isn’t relevant you might as well not submit it.
Did I miss anything? Share in the comments!