Writing a business proposal is a bit like writing a blog article. It needs to be just the right length and have a clear structure to guide your client through an argument – buying from you.
In this article you’ll find some business proposal ideas you can implement on your next sale and some science-backed statistics to improve your chances.
What is a business proposal and how to structure yours
It might sound like a stupid question but asking yourself what is a business proposal can help your write one much better.
In essence, a business proposal is a sales pitch. It’s important to understand that if your client asked for a proposal, they still haven’t decided yet. You still haven’t won. So you shouldn’t be lazy or you’ll probably loose this prospect to someone who’s not.
The perfect business proposal should work much like a article. It starts by shedding light on a scenario your client needs to overcome, explaining the challenges your client must overcome, and then making a case for your solution and why you’re the perfect person to help them.
There’s no fixed proposal format. There’s no right or wrong. Business proposals change a lot from company to company, from salesperson to salesperson, which is a great opportunity for you to create one that will really stand out.
The secret to writing a business proposal that your client will actually read
Do you know what your client cares about more than anything else in the world?
So don’t make the mistake of making your proposal about yourself. It’s not. It’s about them and what you can do for them.
It’s not about how much you’re going to charge or how long you’ll take to complete the work. It’s about what sort of return on investment they’ll get and how much they’ll need to invest.
See the difference? It’s subtle, but making your proposal all about your will have a huge impact on the way they perceive and value your work.
To focus the context to your client when writing a business proposal, you need to structure your proposal as a way laid-out argument.
If this the first proposal you’re writing and you have no idea of what they should look like, take a look at our proposal templates and follow along. It explains the importance of each part of the sample proposal, but the short version is:
- The challenges your client needs to solve;
- The solution you propose;
- Why you’re the best and what have you done for others;
- How much will it cost;
If your proposal goes through each of these items, you can rest assured it makes a compelling sales argument and you will increase the chances your client actually pays attention to your proposal – and the chances you close a sale – a lot.
If you’re interested in improving your chances even more, keep reading to learn some things you definitely should include when writing your business proposal.
Statistics and ideas on how to write a proposal that converts better
Most marketers and sales professionals pay a lot of attention to conversion optimization when building landing pages and campaigns or qualifying leads, but not so much when writing a business proposal.
They believe proposals are not a numbers game and you have more contact with the prospect, so you don’t really have to worry about the details.
That’s a terrible idea.
You will loose a lot of deals because you’ve failed to optimize your proposals. Proposal optimization – let’s call it that, maybe it will catch on – envolves writing a business proposal that address all the primary sales objections, does not create friction or new barriers between you and the prospect, and allows you to quickly follow-up after your client has read it.
Be as personal as you can, but don`t take too long
If your client has to wait for days to read your proposal, you’ve probably already lost.
It’s important to try to send proposals the same day or the morning after your client requests them. The reason is your client is focused on solving their issue, and you have to take advantage of that timing.
As a matter of fact, there are many statistics that prove that your chances of closing a deal or qualifying a lead decrease rapidly with every hour that passes.
Still, you shouldn’t just copy and paste the same e-mail to all of your clients. If you’ve been paying attention, you already noticed that improving your chances when writing a proposal is all about showing your client you care about them and taking the time to create a good dialog between you and them.
With that in mind, your focus should be to use technology in your favor to allow you to be as personal as possible while saving time.
That’s perfectly possible if you use a online proposal software like Proposeful to create solid proposal templates, duplicate them and spending your time only on what matters: personalizing for your client.
Don’t include too many options
We tend to think having many options is a good thing, but it actually create what marketers call decision paralysis.
When writing your proposal, if you offer your client more than one option and the difference between them is not crystal clear, you’ve set yourself up for failure.
Whenever possible, your proposal should guide your client through your argument and offer a single, perfect option of investment for them to achieve the goals you’ve outlined on your proposal.
If you must offer more than a single option, don’t go beyond two or three and make sure your client can easily see the difference between value (by value you should always read what they get out of it) of each option).
If you feel you need to offer more than that, you’ve probably not qualified your prospect enough and still don’t truly understand what they really need. And you should work on that first.
Use testimonials to improve your chances
A often overlooked way to dramatically improve your chances when writing a business proposal is to include testimonials from your previous customers on it.
Testimonials are widely used in conversion rate optimization to create what marketers call social proof. It basically signals your client that other people trust you and they wouldn’t be crazy by putting their trust on you as well.
If you’re interested in understanding the power of testimonials, read this guide by Conversion XL.
And make sure to start collecting testimonials from your previous clients regularly. To start, just e-mail each of your recent clients and ask them if they’d be willing to writing a sentence about how they felt working with you and the results they’ve achieve. It’s painless, easy and most of your clients will say yes.
And include a case study if you can
If your client could be sure – and I mean really sure, like seeing-the-future sure – that paying what you’re asking for is going to get them a positive return on investment, they’d agree to your price in a second.
The reason sales take long is because your client needs to protect themselves from uncertainty. You can’t predict the future or ensure results, but you can help your clients deciding faster by using case studies to show how great you are!
When writing a business proposal, if you’re able to use a case study from a previous client you’ve helped achieve amazing returns on their investment, your client will feel more confident about what kind of results they can expect from your work and you’ll improve your chances of closing the deal dramatically.
Creating a case study can be complex but it’s definitely worth your time. In fact, you don’t need to create a long form, 80-page case study for your proposals. You just need to write a few paragraphs and show a bit of evidence – when possible, respecting your client’s privacy and protecting their information.
Follow-up as soon as they read it
Your work doesn’t end on writing the proposal. You need to monitor your client and follow-up consistently to make sure you’re able to remove any objections they might have and walk them through the sale.
The best time to follow-up is literally 5 minutes after your client reads your proposal. Normally, that wouldn’t be possible as you’d have no idea when they’ve read it, but if you use our business proposal software, you’ll be notified by e-mail as soon as your client views your proposal.
This real time follow-up will let you talk to your prospect when they’re paying attention to your proposal and just as questions arise on their mind. It’s very valuable when trying to convert a client, specially a larger one.
After this first follow-up, don’t stop following up until you have a final answer. Most of your competitors will only follow-up once if at all. A consistent follow-up frequency will let you stay on top of their mind until they’re ready to commit.
Need some business proposal ideas? Check our templates
If you’re jumping of excitement after reading our brilliant ideas on how to write a business proposal, we’ve got something for you!
You can view all of our proposal templates for free, today. They all follow the ideas we’ve outlined here and will let you write a beautiful proposal in a few minutes. You’ll also know when your client reads your proposal so that you can start following up like a pro.