1. Use templates to save time on proposal creation
Our first tip? Always start with a template. It saves time as you don’t have to start from scratch, you don’t have to guess what to include in your proposal, and you can follow best practices.
Proposify offers 75 unique proposal templates. Industries covered include accounting, advertising, architecture, photography, coaching, venue rentals, insurance, and dozens more. You can also choose a template based on the design, and adapt the messaging to fit your services.
Start with one of our templates, then adapt it to your needs and make it your own. Add your company information, logo, and brand colors. Then, whenever you need to create a new proposal, you’ll be able to shave hours off the process.
2. Add client variables for easy personalization
When you use a proposal template with client variables, you get instant personalization. With Proposify, all you have to do is select the right template, choose the client you want to send it to, and voila: the client’s details are automagically (yes, that is a word) filled in.
You can see an example of this in our project proposal template. Variables include the client’s first name, last name, and company name to easily personalize the executive summary.
Keep in mind that the right personalization strategy depends on your business model. If you sell high volume / lower cost, then it makes sense to use simple, automated personalization like this to get proposals out the door quickly. But if your business falls more into the low volume / higher cost category, you should customize your proposals deeper—such as with client-specific pain points and goals.
3. Make the scope of services crystal clear
Simplicity and clarity always win. One of the best things you can do is to make it easy for your prospect to understand the scope of your pitch. They shouldn’t have to spend too much time reading your proposal or hunting for information.
To make your proposal skimmable and easy to read, use headings to break up the scope. As you can see in our branding proposal template, the subsections are Brand Discovery, Brand Strategy, Identity Package, and Brand Guidelines. With the colorful and bold formatting, it’s easy for prospective clients to know what’s included at a glance.
4. Include client testimonials
Testimonials are an excellent form of social proof. They help you establish credibility with your potential client by showcasing the positive experiences and results of former clients. You can use testimonials to highlight specific goals or challenges, so that potential clients see their own situation reflected.
Create a dedicated section in your proposal to feature 2 to 4 testimonials, or sprinkle them throughout the proposal.
Here’s an example testimonial from our video production proposal template. It’s formatted with a background image to show the behind-the-scenes work that produces great results.
5. Add client logos
You can use successful client logos in your proposal to build your company’s authority. Think of these logos like little stamps of approval. You’re essentially saying, These companies have put their trust in me and you can too.
You might add 5 or 6 logos to your About page, like this example from our ecommerce proposal template, or create a dedicated proposal page to fit even more.
If you work for an established company that has dozens of clients, then you might want to consider only adding logos that match the prospect, since you have a bank to choose from. For instance, if you’re pitching ecommerce website development to a fashion brand, you could feature logos only from previous fashion industry clientele.
6. Highlight a portfolio piece
If you offer creative work or construction services, you might want to include a portfolio piece or two. Your prospective clients might care more about seeing the quality of your work than hearing what past clients have to say.
Create a proposal section called “Our Work” or “Portfolio,” and give each portfolio piece its own page. Include photos of the portfolio project and a description. You might also add basic details. For example, this architecture proposal has a little subheading to share the size of the structure.
In place of portfolio pieces, you could also create pages for case studies.
7. Add at least two images to your proposal
Maybe portfolio images aren’t the right fit for your business. And that’s fine. But you do need to add some images. Why? Proposals with images are 72% more likely to close than proposals without.
This large increase in success is probably due to a few different factors. Images bring your pitch to life and help prospects envision what it will be like to work with you. They also show that your company goes the extra mile to create an enjoyable experience. If you whip up a proposal with absolutely no imagery, it will look rushed and amateur at best.
On the Why Us? page, this ecommerce proposal template includes a picture of the team hard at work. Group photos or on-the-job photos are great for showing the real people behind the pitch.
You can also add icons and graphics throughout the proposal. For instance, in your Scope of Services section, you could add one icon to match each subheading.
8. Embed a video introduction
Adding just one video to your proposal increases engagement by 56% and closing rates by 41%.
You could add a short brand video that showcases your team at work, your unique selling propositions, and the results you get for your clients. With Proposify, you can add a custom thumbnail so the video looks great on any proposal page.
If you don’t have a high-quality brand video, you could try filming a short video with Vidyard or Loom instead. Introduce your company, and what makes your services effective, and discuss why this pitch is the perfect solution for your prospect’s needs.
9. Embed a video explanation
You can also reap the rewards of video through explainers. Maybe you offer a complicated service, or maybe your service requires some collaboration and effort from your clients. If you find yourself answering the same questions again and again, that could be a sign that you need to make an explainer video to cover the subject at scale.
Our PPC proposal template includes a video description of the Google Brand Lift survey process that the company uses. This is proof that you don’t always have to spend time creating videos yourself. You can source them from other companies, so long as they’re not in direct competition with you.
10. Include a pricing table
When you add a pricing table to your proposal, you can increase your closing rate by 35%.
Pricing tables are effective because they make it easier for clients to understand the investment. A wall of text just isn’t the right format to discuss cost. You need a table, so you can break things down more clearly.
Depending on your offer, you might show different costs for each line item and estimated quantities.
In this example event management proposal, we can see that the costs are separated into categories, with the estimated hourly total for each category.
11. Let prospects select packages, quantities, or add-ons
When writing a business proposal, you pitch what you think is the right fit for the prospective client. If you’re off base, you have to hope they’ll give you a chance to update the scope and re-send the proposal.
But when you use editable fields and add-ons in your pricing section, you offer the prospect the ability to change the scope right then and there.
As you can see in this printing proposal template, the client can select what packages they want. The final total will tally up at the bottom.
Keep in mind that proposals with both editable quantities and optional rows can boost your closing rates by 20%.
12. Create a library of approved proposal content to mix and match
If you send proposals regularly, you probably have different messaging for different services, client industries, project types, etc. As you make those little customizations,, you should store them so you can reuse them.
Inside of Proposify, you can curate your own content library. You might store 6 different case study pages, 8 variations of your project scope, and 3 ways to describe your project approach.
13. Use this opportunity to share your brand voice
The style of your proposal should match your brand. We’re not just talking about font and colors, but your tone.
Your brand voice is critically important. It gives your prospect a hint at what it will be like to work with you, humanizes your messaging, and ensures a consistent experience. If you love to bring your sense of humor to meetings, your written brand voice should be a little cheeky too.
For example, this advertising proposal uses “Your Advertising Media Mix” instead of a standard approach section. This shows their creativity and straightforward style.
What matters is that your entire proposal is on brand. If you opt for creative headlines, use them sparingly so your prospect can easily understand the purpose of each proposal section.
14. Write a hard-hitting cover letter
The cover letter has an important job. It needs to entice your prospect into reading the entirety of the proposal. It should hit on their pain points and goals, as well as how you plan to help them get the results they’re looking for.
In this business consulting proposal template, the cover letter successfully paints a picture of the client’s current situation, why they need a fresh perspective, and how a new strategic vision will impact the business.
15. Create a visual for the project timeline
Sometimes, prospective clients turn you down because they can’t visualize how the project will progress. They’re concerned about the complexities and all of the unknowns. You can help assuage some of these worries with a clear project visual that will spell out the process and help them place more confidence in your ability to carry the project through.
This construction proposal template has a super-detailed project timeline. The project is broken down into four phases, each situated appropriately on the timeline.
16. Share the project timeline in a simple table
Looking for another idea on how to share your project timeline? If the above visual isn’t quite your style, you could opt for a table instead.
Simply create a table with two columns: the description of the task and the week you’ll complete it. Then fill in when you expect to tackle each main task in your project scope.
For example, our marketing proposal template breaks down a branding project into 7 weeks. It begins with customer research to better understand the brand promise, then moves into logo creation, messaging strategy, and website updates.
17. Curate an image gallery
Do you have a lot of great photos of your work or your team? Why not share your favorite pics in a gallery? You could organize pictures from portfolio projects, client meetings, or work events.
This catering proposal offers a perfect example. A beautiful gallery of the food and its masterful presentation helps potential clients imagine what their event might look—and—taste like.
18. Include statistics about your company
People love numbers. Spruce up a boring About Us section with data on your company. You could include stats on your reach, average client results, how many clients you’ve served, or anything else you think your prospects will care about.
In this example advertising proposal, an Our Statistics section covers audience numbers to show clients their potential reach.
19. Add team bios
When you include photos and bios of your team members, you add a more human touch to your proposal. Potential clients don’t want to do business with a faceless organization. They want to know who they’ll be working with. That’s why, if you work for a large company, it might make sense to only include bios for the people who will be directly involved in this project.
In this catering proposal, we have a bio for the chef as well as the client coordinator in charge of overseeing event implementation.
20. Include goals and objectives
If you want your proposal to close, you must show your prospect that you truly understand their needs. People want to feel seen and heard. If you skip straight to pitching your services, they might get turned off.
That’s why it’s smart to include a Goals or Objections section early on in your proposal—before you get to your services. Use this section to summarize what you learned during your discovery calls about the prospective company’s challenges and what they want to change.
This content marketing proposal template offers a great example because it includes both an executive summary letter as well as bold bullet points to sum up key goals.
21. Spell out your unique approach
Don’t assume that a prospective client know what makes you unique. You need to spell it out for them. Consider adding a section called Our Process or Our Unique Approach. Here, you’ll clarify how you tackle projects and why. As an expert service provider, you know more about how to make a project successful than your clients do. You’ve likely honed your process over multiple years. Take this opportunity to share the details that clients love the most.
Our training proposal template does a great job of clarifying the company’s unique approach to assessment, training, curriculum development, implementation, and evaluation.
22. List what is not included
To avoid any confusion or potential disputes down the road with your client, it’s important to list anything that isn’t included as part of this project plan, not just what is included. This will make your scope crystal clear to the client—while ensuring you have common ground to return to should any confusion arise
You’ll see a list of exclusions in this construction proposal. Plans, architectural fees, survey costs, and appliances are all not included in the pitch.
23. Use bullet points to summarize project phases
Looking for a simple idea to make any proposal more effective? Try using bullet points. Of course, you can employ bullet points in any proposal section to make the content more readable and succinct. But they’re especially effective for project scopes or project phases because they help prospects understand what’s included at a glance.
This accounting proposal includes well-thought-out bullet points for each section of the project scope.
24. Write out basic project details to eliminate any confusion
In your efforts to create a killer proposal, it’s easy to overlook the little details. But that could be a huge mistake.
By spelling out the basic details of the pitch, you can eliminate confusion and make sure that everyone is on the same page.
For example, this catering proposal has an Event Details page to share the location, date, serving time, and set-up time for the event.
25. Share implementation and support details
How will you support your client throughout the engagement? Will you be available via email? Do you have a service-level agreement stating you’ll get back to clients within 24 hours? Do you provide training for their internal team?
Make sure to include important information on the initial implementation and ongoing support.
This enterprise software proposal includes a section on application integration along with the scope so that prospective clients know the pitch includes support for integrating the new solution with their mission-critical tech stack.
26. Include an intake form to kickstart client onboarding
Proposals with intake forms are 119% more likely to close. Plus, they close 26% faster. An intake form can include any question you would normally ask after the client signs the deal.
By including these sorts of onboarding requests in your proposal, you show your confidence that the deal will close and you help walk clients to the finish line.
Inside Proposify, you can add client intake forms for anything you can think of. In the below example, the form asks for the client’s t-shirt size, whether or not they prefer tea or coffee, and their shipping address. This way, the account executive can send over a thank-you package once the deal is signed.
27. Turn your proposal into a binding contract
You can turn any proposal into a contract by adding legal clauses, such as a statement of work, master services agreement, and/or terms and conditions. Make sure to consult with your business lawyer or internal legal team to make sure you’ve got all the right clauses.
You’ll find an example contract in our website proposal template.
28. Add e-signatures (and sign before you send)
Proposals with esignatures are 426% more likely to close than proposals that just ask clients to accept the proposal without having to sign. If you sign the proposal yourself before you send it, you’ll increase your closing rate a further 36%.
29. Automate your follow-up emails
Most deals don’t close all on their own. You usually need to follow-up with your leads. By automating your follow-up process, you can save time and get better results. Proposals with pre-scheduled reminders have a 35% higher closing rate.
You should write and store follow-up templates in your proposal software so it’s easy to trigger the follow-ups when you send a new proposal. Inside Proposify, we offer a few reminder email templates, and you can always add your own.
30. Optimize your proposal content with viewing metrics
Proposals should be continuously updated and optimized. But how do you know what to change?
Check out the viewing metrics in your proposal software to find out the most popular sections. The sections that aren’t getting much engagement are likely the ones that need to be revised. Try a different content format or add more details, and see if you can improve your stats.
Get the best templates and tools with Proposify
With Proposify, you get proposal best practices built in. Our features let you easily add pricing tables, client intake forms, esignatures, videos, and so much more.
With 75 unique proposal templates, you’re sure to find the perfect template to kickstart your process.
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