The document you send to your prospects in order to win business is the most important asset your business has.
Employment contracts, your terms and conditions, your partnership agreement. All of these are highly important documents but technically you could survive without them.
Among all of them, there is one document that makes your business move forward. No chance you could be a serious player in business without a kick-ass proposal document.
It funds everything. It pays staff wages, the bills, the office, growth, your holidays every year, the house you live in and the food you eat. There is no argument. Your proposal document, be it a Word document you edit each time, a professionally designed PDF or the content inside a web based proposal system like Better Proposals. It reigns supreme as the most important collection of words you have as a business.
View this thing like an asset. How seriously do you treat your investments, your savings or the due diligence when you buy a home? It’s that serious and that much of an asset. It’s time to start thinking of it like one.
Why send anything at all?
Before we go barrelling into exactly what to write in order to create the ultimate proposal, we first need to look at why you’re even going to send one at all.
When you go to the supermarket to buy bread, they don’t give you a proposal.
When you buy a plane ticket, they don’t give you a proposal either.
So what does sending one actually do? What’s the point? There are two reasons:
1. It’s a chance to answer questions in a single document
2. It’s to give your client something to agree to.
Without sending a proposal you’d have an endless, confusing thread of emails with answers in it and neither you nor your client would have a clue what you’ve both agreed to.
That said, this starts to paint some pictures as to what a proposal really is. Let’s clear up a common misconception. What’s the difference between a quote and a proposal?
Difference between a quote and a proposal
There seem to be three different phrases kicking about, depending on the industry.
- Tradespeople and printers use the term quote.
- Accountants and the legal industry tend to use the term engagement letter.
- Marketing agencies, consultants and web people tend to use the term proposal.
Here’s the problem. If someone’s after a ‘quote’ what they’re really asking for is a price. I’m sure you’ll agree there’s a lot more to your service than simply being the best price.
That, my friends is exactly why you should never send just a quote. If that’s all you send, it’s all you’ll be judged on.
You might find you don’t have enough information to send a full-blown proposal.
That’s fine. Ask more questions.
If they won’t give you the time then that shows they are price shopping and it’s probably not the client you want.
Another thing that usually worries business people – the lenght of the proposal.
Proposal doesn’t have to be 40-pages long. A proposal in my mind is simply you proposing a solution to a client’s problem in a single document.
If it takes 40-pages to include everything you need in order for them to make an informed decision then so-be-it.
The average length of signed proposals in Better Proposals is 8 pages.
If you want to avoid sending just a quote, and don’t want to be going back and forth asking questions, how do you get all the information you need in one go?
No matter what type of business you run, you will need a well-thought-out business proposal. Throughout the project you’re delivering, the proposal will be the safeguard for you and your client, it contains directions and structure of the project, plus it puts everyone on the same page. Not only you need to have it – you need to send it to each and every client in order to make your business grow.