A worthwhile effort
This is going to take a lot of work but it is easily going to be the thing that makes the biggest difference to the number of prospects that say ‘Yes’. A book that would be well worth reading is ‘your Utterly Seductive Proposal’ by Tim Coe. It’s a walkthrough on how to position your company, to demonstrate its uniqueness at the front and centre of your marketing and sales efforts. Here's how to write your own:
The cover is the first thing they will see and needs to have a visual impact. It needs to have your branding clear, and front-and-centre but not in a tacky way. To do this professionally will cost you and I would suggest it's worth the investment.
Any proposal which has an "Our suggestion" or "What we're going to do" section which is longer than 3 pages, needs a summary. It should be short, to the point and someone should be able to skim read it and get the point within 60 seconds. Bullet points, bolding and short sentences and paragraphs are your friends here. Assume that all someone is going to read is this part and the price.
What You're Going To Do
This is "the proposal" in essence. This is where you explain what you're going to do and the end result for the client. Do this in as much detail as is needed but not too much. Focus on the benefits and remember, they don't need to know HOW you do anything. State what you're going to do and what the benefits are for them. People skim read these sections, I can tell you this for a fact because in our Online Proposal System, I can see exactly how long people are reading these these pages for.
Why We're Different and The About Us Page
It's worth thinking about what your business does differently to your competition. Perhaps think of things that your competition are famous for doing badly. For example, Virgin Media and their terrible customer service. If you offer the same service, but explain how your customer service is different and better, you win. A nice list of 6 things here is a sweet spot. Too many and it's unrealistic, too few and it doesn't look amazing. The aim with the About page is to simply let someone know a few things they didn't know already. For example, awards you've won, major clients you've worked with, charities you support. Another reason for this page is to get someone who doesn't know you up to speed on what you're about.
There are 3 main things people consider when buying something:
- Can they do what I need?
- Can they do it within my budget?
- Can they do it in the timeframe that I need?
Hopefully you would have already established this on the phone or in person beforehand but it's certainly important to put it clearly in the proposal. I've done 6 steps as an example but you can add or remove some. The idea here is just to make the client feel comfortable while giving them a clear answer as to when they'll receive their product or service.
You could call this page Quote, Price, Costs or any other obvious phrase but I prefer 'Investment'. Anything that involves improving a current situation, coaching or training, software, web or marketing services or professional services is an investment. 'Costs' or 'Quote', to me cheapens what you're selling. It does need to make sense and be sensible though. A builder using the term investment would be silly if he was building a wall; but a loft conversion which would improve the value of the property? That's an investment in the truest sense of the word. Be clear here about your price, and if you have payment plan options available, let them know what they are. What are the payment terms? There should be no doubt about the amount payable, over what period, how often and by what method.
Every business should offer a guarantee. No question. What could yours be? The objective is to have the reader thinking "I either get what I am paying for or not only do I get my money back but I also get ______". Giving something as a "sorry" for not doing a good job is the basis of a brilliant guarantee. What people often do is say they'll "redo it until it's right". This isn't anywhere near as good as the client can't get away from you if it all goes wrong.
It's vital that you include previous examples of you doing a great job. It shocks me beyond belief to see that some businesses provide no evidence that they can do what they're promising. A simple formula is this:
- What you did (A few word summary as a title)
- Brief description (A paragraph)
- Evidence (Photo, video, before and after pictures, a graph)
If you don't have these things at hand easily you really should look to get them together and build up a collection each time you do a job, so your proposals are always fresh, current and interesting.
Just explain the next steps. Don't explain the entire process, just the next few steps. Keep it simple and easy to understand. Add a final "call to action" summarising in 2-3 sentences why you are the best choice. An easy way to lay this out is 3 simple statements:
- What you're going to do
- The main benefit
- Your guarantee
Present it well, make it look nice and ensure it's readable, the fonts are nice and your branding is consistent. If you want all that taken care of automatically, so you can just focus on your content, then I suggest using Better Proposals. After all, it's free.