How Crafting A Good Business Proposal Will Help You Win, And Fast
Your business proposal is one of the most important documents in your business. It’s an asset. Creating business proposals typically goes something like this:
- You get a request for a proposal (Yay!)
- Then you fret and sweat over your computer when creating one
- You try to be convincing
- Try to explain the complexities of your work in a concise manner
- And try to stay calm in the midst of proposal-crafting chaos
- You spend hours formatting, organizing, rewording, and questioning your very value
Proposals are truly exhausting, but they’re necessary. Crafting a good business proposal is the very crucial beginning of any sale. If you don’t have a great proposal, then what? How do you intend to propose your excellent work to a viable client?
Let’s get down to the details about how to write a business proposal that kicks ass, is quick and (mostly) easy, and doesn’t make you want to pull your hair out while writing and creating.
What’s A Proposal, And How Is It Different Than A Quote?
There are several terms you can use to define a proposal based on what industry you’re in. Tradespeople tend to use the term “quote”. The legal industry prefers the term “engagement letter”. And marketing firms, agencies, sales, consultants, coaches, analysts, and the like are keen on the word “proposal”.
Although these terms essentially mean the same thing, when tradespeople use “quote” it comes off a bit different than “engagement letter” or “proposal”. Providing a quote to a potential client is usually associated with price. This can be problematic if you’re trying to explain the complexities of your service and communicate its value because a quote just gives off a price vibe. If all you send is a quote, that’s what the client is basing the value on. Bummer.
Instead, propose a solution to your client’s problem. This is will take their focus off of the dollar signs and make them feel relieved that someone is there to save the day and solve the problem they’re trying to get off their hands. A proposal does just that—it goes in-depth about the value and solution you’re able to provide.
Why Send A Proposal?
Let’s say you own a shoe store and you’re pretty excited about this proposal idea. Your shoes have value and will definitely solve a customer’s problem (especially if they’re a shoe fanatic). Should you hand over a proposal to anyone who’s interested in buying a pair of shoes? No, that would be annoying.
Proposals are for companies who provide service-based work or sell complex or custom products. When you don’t have one specific product to offer someone, determining service pricing, value, and details about a specific circumstance is helpful. It helps a potential client understand all there is to the solution you’re proposing and helps you as a business owner stay on top of consistent pricing, details, and values.
Crafting a good business proposal allows you to:
- Answer all of the FAQs upfront (What’s your process? What’s included? What if I don’t like it? What if, what if, what if, what if.)
- Create a foundational agreement for working together.
- Showcase your brand and re-communicate your values, expectations, and the overall vibe the client can expect when working with you.
Although proposals should be detailed in order to be a wholesome tool, you’ll want to avoid writing ongoing, mind-numbing threads. What goes where? Who is responsible for what? When are things due? How can I address every single client fear to put them at ease?
No. Keep it simple, yet precise, and don’t make any potential client feel overwhelmed by too much … because then, “Bye-bye client.”
Write Better Proposals, Start With A Conversation
You’re trying to sell a solution to whatever problem that might be among clients. But, you can’t craft a solution until you are incredibly clear on the problem.
Sit down with the client and learn about the pain points they’re facing, what’s urgent in their situation vs. what’s most important. Take note of where they’re headed with their next moves and where their head’s at.
Here at Bareknuckle, we hold Buy Us a Beer discovery meetings because what’s better than a business conversation over beer? Here’s how we do it:
- Identify the client’s goals, where they stand now, and where they’re aiming to go.
- Identify the technical skills you need to perform to get the job done (and whether or not you have the bandwidth to achieve it).
- Is this the type of client you want to work with? Is it the kind of work you’re shooting for?
- What is the client anticipating to spend on this? Does it align with what you’re thinking? Don’t undervalue yourself and propose a lower price based on their spending anticipation.
- Answer the difficult questions: Clients fear how their money is being spent when they hand it over to you, but they’re also afraid to ask. Will you run off with it? Are your testimonials authentic? Is your “aggressive timeline” actually realistic? How do they know you’re both on the same page?
Related Article to Learn More About Defining Your Brand
Now You’re Ready to Craft A Good Business Proposal
You’re ready to propose your solution … almost. Before you make your proposal well-written and put together, you have to strategize and then create copy that sells the problem-solving solution you’re an expert at.
Writing a winning proposal requires copywriting skills, which can feel like a daunting task. One of the biggest mistakes in proposal writing is poor copywriting. But we’re here to help. As a refresher, copywriting is strategic writing crafted to compel the reader to purchase. It’s a skill. And you can do it quicker than ever to land the clients you want.
Here’s how to write winning proposals fast:
The introduction to your proposal is hands down the most important part. This initial, opening section acts as your salesperson. Craft it right by acting as your own sales team, but not coming across as a full-blown sales pitch. Draw the attention necessary to keep them interested in what you have to offer.
- Remind them of the reasons for purchasing from your brand.
- Remind them you have the right solution for them, and you have a plan for that solution.
You know what you’re selling, and they probably have a pretty good idea of it too. But clients need the details. They’re coming to you for information that they can’t get from your website, case studies, etc. Crafting a good business proposal means giving them the ins and outs of the specific solution you’re proposing to them.
- Outline the details of the solution based on their needs.
- Be sure to write these specifications from a “here are the benefits” perspective, showing them the value over and over again—do this all before they get to see the price.
Incorporate a Case Study
We all care about what other people think. From the new BBQ you buy online to the quality of the shoes you’re contemplating purchasing—what other people say matters. This concept can even come into play as a business proposal idea too. Share the work you’ve done previously and show what your previous clients have said about you.
- First of all, this case study should be concise—don’t waste their time on too much information about another brand.
- Show them that this solution has worked in the past, and tailor the case study you’re sharing to their specific circumstances.
- Share a similar problem.
- Show the solution you offered.
- How did it turn out? Share the results.
- What did that brand have to say about the work you did? Social proof!
- That’s it—short, sweet, impactful.
Terms and Conditions
Sometimes it sucks to have to get down to the legal stuff. Although it feels boring, it’s necessary. The fine print can save your butt in some sticky situations and keeps you trudging along with crystal clear expectations for your clients.
- Include all the legal stuff and fine print you feel is necessary to include in a proposal.
- Make sure to make things clear. Don’t try to hide stuff and also don’t let possible scenarios slide through the cracks.
- Answer any additional questions, don’t leave anything unanswered.
And here comes the big number everyone is looking for. How much is it going to cost to work with you? The price comes last … we’ll say it again, the price always appears last on a proposal, every single time. Why? Because if a price comes before the value you’re offering, a client is going to be turned away by your numbers—you haven’t yet shown anything to justify your price.
- Make sure the price is thoroughly validated in the rest of the proposal. The price needs to align with the value you’re proposing.
- When a client sees a price and they still have questions, they are more likely to fall back on the proposal. Make sure you’re clear about exactly what they’re signing up before they see the price.
Now You’re Ready to Design
Now that you’re ready to craft your killer proposal, you can get to designing.
Designing your proposal doesn’t have to be too complicated. You can use either Microsoft Word, InDesign, or a combo of the two. It really just depends on your industry and what’s expected.
Here’s an example: If you work in a creative industry, you’ll be expected to design a proposal that reflects your creative value. Now, this doesn’t mean all non-creative industries are off the hook when it comes to making a proposal visually appealing. Using basic brand elements can spruce up your proposal, improve readability, and make the presentation eye-catching.
You can even make it easy on yourself by working with a creative company. They can design a template that you can use over and over again—rinse and repeat.
It may take some front-loading time, but it’s worth it. Remember that a proposal gives a first impression to a potential client. It’s an asset, invest in it.
Here are a few tips for designing and crafting a good business proposal for your brand:
- If you use images within your proposal, stay away from stock photos. They’re lame and don’t display your brand appropriately. Invest in real, branded photography.
- If it makes sense, use a branded video. This is important if you really need to leverage sales in the proposal, and it’ll come in handy if something is complex or better heard than read. Not necessary, but video can help.
Write It, Craft It, Use It
Proposing your ideas and solutions to a client will help them make a decision. By showing them all the value you have to offer, displaying the specifics, and giving evidence that supports your service, you’re bound to catch their attention and land that new client.
If you need help catching those potential clients, hiring an outside team for support can definitely be the answer. Copywriters and designers, they can certainly be put to use for crafting a good business proposal. Don’t skimp out on one of the most important documents in business.
Give us a holler if you’re on the prowl for an outside team of proposal experts.