Acquiring new clients is no easy task, no matter the industry. You can put a lot of work into creating and perfecting your products and services, however, if you don’t know how to pitch them to your potential clients, it might be all in vain.
Your proposals need to be persuasive, well researched, put your value at the centre and look professional. In this article, we’ll explain how to write the perfect business proposal which will help you convert your clients.
There is a lot of different information online that might discourage you from creating a business proposal just because the sheer amount of information and all the steps you need to follow may seem overwhelming.
That’s exactly why we decided to create a simple 5-step guide on writing persuasive business proposals that will motivate you to up your proposal game. Everything we talk about is backed up by research and numbers and we don’t believe in sweating the small stuff. Let’s start with the importance of business proposals.
What is a business proposal?
A business proposal is a document you create with the exact purpose of persuading your client to start working with you. It’s an essential sales document that helps you sell your products and services.
It’s the standard for many industries and stands as a curated document that explains why you’re the perfect person or company for the job. The business proposal is your best chance to show your expertise and plan of action on how exactly you plan to help your client with a problem they’re currently facing.
The best types of business proposals are ones that cover all the important topics. Remember, the more effort you put into creating your proposal, the easier it will be to convert the client, simply because you won’t have to do a lot in the follow-up process.
Your business proposals need to have a clear structure.
They need to have:
- an introduction
- a detailed description of how you’re going to help your client
- some kind of social proof
- the price
- terms and conditions.
As our research shows, proposals that convert the best have 7 sections on average. Every section should bring value to your proposal and they should be in that exact order.
But first – the discovery session
Before you start working on your proposal, you should already have the answers to all your questions. We already went into detail on how to conduct a great discovery session, but we see that it’s still the most important step people like to avoid.
That meeting is important not just for you to truly understand your client’s issues, but also for the business relationship you’re trying to forge. You need to figure out what your client truly wants.
Sometimes, they don’t necessarily have the vocabulary or technical knowledge to explain their problems. It’s possible that they have a goal in mind, but are going about achieving it the wrong way. A lot of people know the importance of social media, but think that likes will translate into revenue.
If you hear an explanation like that, you need to talk to your customer and explain what would be a realistic goal from social media and which short term goals you should focus on.
The most important questions you need them to answer are – why and how much. You need to know why are they willing to fix their problem now, why they picked your company to help them, how big their budget is and how much money they lose by having this problem for a certain amount of time.
The more information you know, the easier it will be for you to create a proposal because you won’t have to guess. This is especially important once it comes to the budget. If you’re not sure how much to charge, you need to get your client to define their budget during the discovery session.
If you’re having trouble with that, you can say the budget range for projects like the one you’re working on. Since it’s not one number, but a range, your client won’t feel too intimidated to speak their mind.
Once you get all the information you need, you can start writing your proposal.
Prepare a proposal that focuses on your value
Know that you have a great understanding of your client and their needs and wants, you can create a proposal specifically for their situation. There is no need to write and design one from scratch since we have a huge library of proposal templates.
Once you find the perfect template for you, you’ll see that the aforementioned structure is already there and that the focus of your proposal should be on the value you’re creating for your client in the long run.
What that means is, if you’re a copywriter, you shouldn’t focus on the amount of time it’s going to take you to create all the necessary content your client is looking for, but the value it will bring them over time.
You’re not selling them website content, you’re selling the content that will bring in new customers, help them create a community around the brand, and position them high in search engine results.
All that potential has to be evident in your proposal. Start by explaining the problem at hand and the goal in your client’s words. That way, you’re sure that both of you are on the same page and that your client will be able to follow along since you’re not bringing anything new to the table.
Once you do that, you can go further into the details on how exactly your process will look. Make sure to talk about the potential value your service will bring them. The best way to do so is by showing a previous success story you had with another client.
Use social proof to get your point across
Social proof is the only part of your proposal where you let another person express their opinion. The importance of it is just in that – having a third party attest to your expertise by sharing how quickly they made a return on their investment and how much easier you’ve made their day-to-day work.
You can share past clients’ reviews, conduct a short interview with them or showcase a full-on case study. Whichever one you choose, make sure to explain how quickly your clients experienced ROI and include a photograph or video of your client.
This will showcase to your client that you’re the right person for the job since you’re already done it, you’ve achieved your client’s goals, and avoided any problems along the way.
Social proof is a crucial part of all business proposals, and as such is a part of the structure for all of our proposal templates. If you invest a lot of time and effort into creating an engaging case study, you can save it in your content library and use it for future proposals.
Create a professional business proposal
We’ve already covered the importance of structure in your business proposals. You don’t want to send out a one-page PDF proposal that will leave your clients with more questions than answers.
That’s why it’s important to use reliable proposal software that can help you not just speed up the process, but also produce a professional-looking proposal that your clients are expecting.
Our templates can be used without any design experience. The editor is easy to use, all you have to do is click on the plus button and choose the type of content you want to add. While you’re creating your proposal, think about the person that will be reading it.
In order to help you with that, we’ve created proposal AI, which compares your proposal to other proposals that were successfully signed and gives you input on changes you could make to your proposal.
You should also think about the tone of voice you’re using in your proposal. When you’re talking about your plan and expertise, you want to use persuasive and professional language. Don’t use words as we think, we suggest, we hope, instead, use words as we know, we predict etc.
Once you get to your social proof, you could use more emotional and empathic language. This is where it’s important to use positive language so try to avoid negative words like we couldn’t.
Format your prices correctly
The pricing section of your proposal may be the most difficult part of your proposal to write. Our first tip is not to call it a pricing section, but something along the lines of ROI and investment. That way it doesn’t sound like you’re just sending out an invoice.
Another tip is to provide a singular price for your services. Our research shows that trying to upsell your clients doesn’t work, as they often get confused with the variety of packages you’re offering.
Furthermore, we suggest formatting your prices based on value, instead of an hourly rate or commission. There are a few reasons why. Hourly rates may seem like the only way to secure that you never work for any amount of time without getting paid, but it doesn’t give you an incentive to finish your work quickly.
On the other hand, pricing your services by commission gives you that incentive. However, there are too many external factors you can’t control that could affect your commission. That’s why pricing your services based on value is the best option.
When we talk about value, we mean the overall value your clients will get from your services. In order to price your services that way, you’ll have to know how much value you’re bringing to your clients.
Now that we’ve covered all the important steps you need to take in order to write a persuasive proposal all that’s left to do is get right to it. If you want to learn more about a different aspect of proposal writing, check out our Proposal University.
It’s a knowledge hub that explains everything you need to know about proposal writing and designing.