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Using Word to Create Proposals Makes You Look Fucking Pathetic

I don’t want you to think I’ve used strong language here for clickbait or to grab attention. I mean every single word of it. 

In fact, if word count wasn’t an issue, I would have said “absolutely fucking pathetic”. Look, if you’re instantly triggered right now, good! 

I want you to consider this

Imagine you walk into a networking event. Everyone’s put a bit of effort into their appearance. Some smarter than others, but there’s a general baseline and everything makes sense.

Then, all of a sudden, some guy wearing an oversized white shirt with stains on it and grubby jeans rolls up. He interrupts your conversation, shakes your hand badly, doesn’t speak clearly, and is just making no sense. How would you feel?

You’d feel like you want nothing to do with him. He doesn’t take himself seriously and you’d probably do what most of us would - judge a book by its cover and assume he’s not very good at his job. 

That is the human equivalent of what your Word doc proposals are doing. 

It’s about the worst impression you can give off at the worst possible time. 

It’s the exact moment you’re asking them to pull their wallet out and pay. And you present them with something that not only doesn’t inspire them at all, but makes you look ordinary, bland, and old-school.

Think about it from your prospect’s perspective

Just imagine you’ve got some work that needs doing and you speak to some companies to get some quotes in. Chances are, 95% of the time you are going to receive a Word doc converted to a PDF and sent over email. 

How is that inspiring? There’s no law that says you need to do that. The only reason people do is because it’s pre-installed on almost every computer in existence and most people can use it. Most people can use a screwdriver as well, but if you try to use it to cut a piece of wood, it’s not going to work very well.

The point is, why on earth would you want to be the same as everyone else in that scenario? How is that going to help you?

Now, let’s assume your design skills are better than average, you have a little knowledge about typography and understand a bit about spacing and not making something look like total dog’s dinner...

Now you’ve got another problem 


Making even just a 3-4 page doc in Word look half decent takes a while. Even if you’ve been smart and got yourself a template together, the second you type one too many words, it’s going to look like it’s been shafted into oblivion.

Images everywhere, text jumping around all over the show, paragraphs being split up more often than celebrities. You fix one thing and it’s now like a house of cards during a hurricane. 

It’s just about fixable if you have the skill, but it takes time away from what your core competency is - the thing you actually get paid to do. Don’t do that. 

What impression are you trying to give off?

Professional, efficient, on the ball? Sending a pieced-together Word doc to your potential clients when you’re trying to ask for money is not the best way to do it. 

Apart from anything else, it’s fucking disrespectful.

Wasting their data downloading some massive attachment, not understanding that they’re likely to open it on a phone. On top of that, you’re sending them a shit experience.

And if, by some bit of pot luck, everyone else being just that little bit worse than your effort means you land the job, how exactly do they sign? They need to go dust off the printer, sign it, and have a document photoshoot on the kitchen table.

That’s not what professional businesses do. 

Professional businesses make it a smooth operation that builds confidence and reassures your potential client that you have things under control. 

Be a smooth operator and win on purpose. You don’t want to win only because everyone else is just a little bit worse than you. Play to win.

Dress like a winner. 

Walk and talk like a winner. 

Operate your business like a winner.

Admitting you need help is the first step

The second one is signing up for Better Proposals. The first 14 days are on us.

Adam Hempenstall's profile image
Adam Hempenstall is the CEO and Founder of Better Proposals. He started his first web design business at 14 and has since written four books and built an international movement around sending better proposals. Having helped his customers win $500,000,000 in the last 12 months alone, he’s launched the first ever Proposal University where he shares best practices on writing and designing proposals. He co-runs a once-a-year festival called UltraMeet and is a massive FC Barcelona fan.