How To Write a Killer Proposal Cover Letter
Your proposal cover letter is the most important part of your entire business proposal. This is how to blow your prospects away by writing one that captures all their hopes and dreams.
Not only will we explain the role of a cover letter and give you tips on how to write one, but we’ll also show you a great example of a proposal letter your customers will enjoy.
In the article, you’ll learn how to present your value, and introduce your solution and your company.
The importance of proposal letters
In general, the three pieces of your proposal that will be read and examined properly are:
- Cover letter / Introduction / Executive Summary
This isn’t a guess. Hundreds of thousands of proposals have been sent using our software Better Proposals and we’re able to pull together statistics from that. We’ve learned that most of the time people spend on a proposal is in those three areas.
This is the meat of your proposals and the content your customer is most interested in. Make their agreement process easy by spending some extra time on these sections.
Of course, when using Better Proposals, the extra time isn’t a lot since we speed up your proposal process and give you more time to spend on the creative process.
That said, the most important thing to include in your proposal letter is that you understand the reader’s needs and long-term goals.
This extends beyond simply telling them that they want a quote on a [fill in the blank].
In your meeting with the prospect, you should be digging deep into why they really want it. What are the underlying reasons behind it?
I’ve spoken about this in this video detailing why most people write their introduction or cover letter wrong.
Try to understand the benefits they expect you to bring them, their budget and whether they have some examples for the solution they want you to provide.
You should know all of this before you even start writing your proposed solution.
Let’s look at an example
Your client might say “we need a new website because ours is outdated”. Okay, but what will an up-to-date one do? “Bring us more leads”. Okay, so what you really want is more leads.
You see? And you can go far deeper.
“What’s wrong with the number of leads you’re getting at the moment?”
“Why is that even a problem?”
What you might find is that they’re scared their new competition across the road is going to put them out of business in a year if they don’t act fast. Now you have the information you need.
At this point, your proposal letter is about addressing the REAL fears, situations and options rather than at just a surface level.
Clients love to hear their own words in your proposal letter. It gives them confidence in their choice and shows them that you listened.
Now, the rest of your proposal is going to contain details about your plan, your pricing, why you’re different and your case studies. That’s what all the best proposal examples include.
If your proposal letter addresses their real issues then you can guarantee that it’s going to be read cover to cover.
What is a cover letter?
In the world of business proposals, a cover letter is the initial part of your proposal where you explain that you know the client’s situation and you know exactly how to solve their problem.
The best proposal letters I’ve seen weren’t written with amazing language. What made them stand out is that the person writing them listened carefully to the client before sitting down and writing the proposal letter.
They highlight how their process will help the client achieve their long-term goals.
My advice is to use simple language all through your document. Avoid technical jargon and make sure that the client understands everything that is being said.
After all, they will have less technical knowledge than you and also, people tend to mistrust things they can’t understand.
Why do you need a cover letter?
Simply put, the client reading the business proposal needs to get engaged to read the whole thing before signing.
You could just give them a detailed specification right from the bat, but that will make the client too focused on numbers and specific results.
The proposal letter shows them that you’re listening and it gets them “hooked” to start reading.
After they’re done with the cover letter, they can move on to the more technical bits in the detailed specification.
Make sure to keep your proposal letter short, not longer than one page. You should keep your client in mind when you write a proposal letter. Don’t expect them to give you too much of their time.
The connection between a cover letter and a business proposal?
In general, the cover letter is the part that comes before the actual business proposal. Sometimes, this is called a cover letter but we prefer calling it the introduction.
In other words, the cover letter is the first and perhaps the most important element of a business proposal.
Every good business proposal needs to have an introduction. We talk about introductions quite often in our articles, but don’t get confused – it’s the same thing as a cover letter.
The elements of a business cover letter
There are several things that every great cover letter needs. Here are a few to get you started:
- You need to talk about the client – not yourself. Don’t brag about your projects, awards, portfolio, etc.
- Talk “back” at the client – use their own words and expressions from your meetings and discovery calls
- Don’t get too technical – leave that for the next section
- Keep it short and to the point – the aim is to get clients to read through to the end and sign.
When addressing the problem at hand, don’t place the blame on your potential client. They know that there is an issue that needs fixing and that’s why they asked you for a business proposal.
You’re here to fix the issue, not dwell on it. Keep your introduction positive and set your client up for a good reading experience.
The cover letter structure
While the content of your proposal will depend on the offer and your industry, the proposal letter should always follow this guide.
This is the most important part of your proposal. I personally prefer to hit them on the head with a sledgehammer and get right to the point.
Shock them into reading on and learning more. Here’s an example using a website design quote:
“You’re busy so I’ll get to the point. The purpose of your new website is to generate enough leads to give your sales team such an easy job they crush your competition without even trying. I’m aware that sounds obnoxious but the rest of this document will explain where that confidence comes from.
The website is a means to an end. Anyone can make you a new website but what you’re after isn’t just a pretty picture. You need results and that’s what we do. We’re a results based company and ultimately so are you.”
You’re saying something strange. You’re suggesting that the website isn’t important – that’s supposed to be your core skill (in this example), but what happens when you do this is you come across like you’re telling them something they shouldn’t know.
Like it’s a secret.
What happens when someone tells you a secret? You trust them.
Vibe of the letter
The vibe should be direct and void of any indecision. Nothing breaks trust faster than indecision.
This is why it’s so vital that you get the information you need beforehand so you’re not writing with ‘maybes’, ‘sometimes’ and ‘ifs’ in your voice.
Be sure about what you’re saying.
You are the expert. Write like one.
Another mistake that people often make is focusing too much on themselves in the proposal letter. Your client doesn’t care about your accolades and what inspired you to go into your line of work.
Think about it like this. If you reach out to a cleaning agency, you would want to receive a proposal that outlines their services and prices.
You’re not looking forward to reading a proposal letter that explains how the owner got their passion for cleaning.
The clients want to read about how you’ll help them reach their goals and what your next steps are.
When you’re closing your proposal’s cover letter, always invite them to read the rest of the proposal.
Without fear of it sounding generic, I always like to see people pointing their readers in the way of the case study they’ve included. It proves that you are the perfect company for the job.
It’s a nice lead-on.
Proposal letter template
Now that you know exactly what to write in your executive summary, let’s see it in action in this proposal letter example.
When you use Better Proposals to create and send business proposals, you severely speed up the whole process.
Since all of our documents are web-based, they get sent as secure links to your clients. Once they open the business proposal, they get treated to a beautifully designed cover page.
It helps you give a good first impression.
After the cover page, your client will open the introduction page. If you received a formal request for proposal (RFP), you’ll know exactly who to address.
Once you do that, highlight your reason for sending the proposal – i.e. the problem at hand and your solution for it.
As you can see in our proposal letter template, you should keep it brief and get straight to your points.
Since you won them over with a great first paragraph, you can continue your proposal introduction by addressing the process you plan on using.
After you write a proposal letter once, you’ll see how easy it can be when utilizing our software and educational materials. You can find the right proposal letter template and customize it to your needs.
Cover letters set the tone for the rest of your business proposal, so make sure you do a good job and don’t ruin your chances of gaining a new opportunity to work.
Common proposal introduction mistakes
The elements that affect your executive summary are:
- your industry
- whether a client issued a formal request for a proposal
- does your proposal include a contract
Your industry will dictate the tone of the proposal, as well as specific details in your executive summary. If you’re selling software, you need to explain how you’ll research the market and find ut the targeted audience.
Don’t expect the prospect to know every intricate thing about your industry. You need to find the right balance for the amount of information you’ll share.
If the person you’re sending the proposal to didn’t request it, you need to address the reason for contacting them straight from the beginning. It would be a good idea to address the value, cost and timescales.
You could also sign your proposal letter in order to make it more personal.
When you’re using proposal software, you don’t want the client to print out your document. Because you want them to read the proposal online and utilize the digital signature option in order to speed up the sales process.
If you want to make sure your recipient is reading your proposal on a screen, keep it in mind when creating the proposal letter. It should be easy to get through, meaning you should break up your text with visuals.
Furthermore, printing can affect the conversion rate of your proposal. Our research shows that printing decreases your conversion chances by 88%.
What to include in the rest of the proposal?
Once you write a great introduction, you need to focus on the rest of your business proposal.
If you want to win clients’ hearts and create a winning proposal, we suggest focusing on benefits, showing the value of your products and services and knowing the clients’ budget.
We suggest you start by reading our guide on proposal writing. It will give you great insight into how to win new business.
Utilize our ideas in order to create professional-looking proposals that will help you win the job and achieve success.
Our guide includes proposal details that will help you set yourself apart from the competition and give you ideas on bettering your business proposals. The more professional your sales documents are, the easier you’ll sell your solution.
Make sure to use proposal AI, which will give you actionable tips on how to improve your business proposal. It works by comparing your documents to other successfully sent proposals from our platform.
Writing a great proposal letter is one of the most important skills that you can have as a salesperson or business owner.
If you can do this effectively then you simply increase your sales and win better jobs, more often and at a higher price point. The more professional your business proposal is, the better your chances of winning over a client’s heart are.
There are some great examples in the Example Proposal Templates section of our site. I encourage you to take a look and crib from them what you like.
If you like what you see, sign up for a free trial and streamline your sales process.
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