What’s the best way to win a deal when there are competitors in the mix?
If you want to win more of those close competitions, your proposals are a perfect place to bust out of the boring old box and impress the heck out of your potential clients. But what makes for an outstanding proposal these days?
We dug into our proposal database to find out. We discovered three key things you can add to your proposals that will grab prospects’ attention and make them more likely to close. And, not only are these tactics backed by science, unlike most “hacks” that just go for quick wins, these tactics can also make your sales team’s life easier for quarters to come.
A warning before we jump in: these aren’t quick fixes. They take some work. I mean, they must, or your competition would already be using them and then your edge would be lost. But if you’re willing to put in a little upfront labour, our research shows it’ll more than pay off.
Let’s get started.
3 research-backed ways to add value to your sales team’s proposals
I’ve singled out event services proposals to illustrate these tactics. I picked this vertical because it’s:
- very visual;
- highly competitive;
- and puts an emphasis on the client experience.
Some of our Proposify customers in the event services industry are already using the tactics in this post and seeing great results. I’ll talk more about exactly what our research found below (two of these tactics are proven to more than double close rates!) and what it all means for your team.
Here’s what the best of the best in event services have in their proposal toolkit and how you can add them to yours to outsell your competitors.
1. Interactive pricing options
Interactive pricing is pricing served up to the prospect as a dynamic fee table where they can add or remove items, increase or decrease quantity and number of attendees, or choose amongst optional add-ons, like swag.
Our data shows that including interactive fee tables in a proposal increases the close rate by 115% for event services companies. Why does this type of pricing presentation work so well for them?
In addition to customizing clients’ events down to the details, this kind of a-la-carte pricing can help drum up urgency and excitement. Even if the event won’t take place until next quarter, selecting pricing gives the prospect that little bit of instant gratification we all crave and helps them envision their perfect bespoke experience.
Why interactive pricing helps your proposals stand out
I’ve talked about all the interactive stuff you can do to make your proposals the most modern on the block in other posts but I wanted to call this one out here. Nothing says ‘custom’ like being able to quickly and easily select your own packages, bundles, or a-la-carte items.
Not only is it appealing to prospects, but it’s also great for your sales team. Giving the prospect control over their spend means they’ll actually spend more. You’ve got options and so do your prospects, which is great for upselling and helping both sales reps and clients maximize the budget.
This does not mean that you should make your pricing system so complicated you need a CPA designation to unravel it. There’s also research on decision paralysis and how too much choice can overload buyers and hamper their decision-making. And if a decision is made, selecting among too many options can lead to increased dissatisfaction and second-guessing—what if there was a better choice?
Events proposals are a great example for striking a balance between providing enough options to customize and not so many that it causes the deal to fall through. They can sometimes have PAGES of interactive pricing tables but as long as they are well-designed and flow logically they can increase spend.
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That statistic is corroborated in our research, as we found that including a video in proposals can more than double the close rate, particularly in a highly-visual industry like events and event services.
Think about an engaging video case study or testimonial. It could be a compelling way to introduce your team or explain your value proposition. The possibilities are endless.
Two caveats when you’re creating videos:
Two out of three people will watch a business video all the way through if it’s under one minute, according to business video platform Vidyard. But only one person in four watches a 20-minute video to the end. The length that appeals most to your clients will likely be somewhere in between, so Vidyard suggests trying different edits to see where people tend to drop off.
Captions and subtitles
Nine out of 10 consumers view videos with the sound off, which means captions and subtitles are the best way to make sure your message still gets through loud and clear. We use Kapwing to add clear and accurate captioning to all our Proposify videos.
But let's take a look at an example from an event services company. This video from event design and build firm Dimensional Innovations explains, well, exactly what a design and build firm does. It’s short and showcases what they do and how they do it, with some previous client work and testimonials for good measure. Plus, there are captions available if you’re not among that 10 percent who prefer sound-on viewing.
Why video helps your proposals stand out
Videos are perceived as high-end, which is always a boon in a competitive situation. And using video shows a dedication to the customer experience since two-thirds of consumers prefer watching a video to reading about a product. Video works especially well if your offering is more experiential, like event logistics or an interactive fan experience.
Plus, even though it’s been shown to be effective, video isn’t ubiquitous in proposals yet. It’s a piece of proposal content that’s still unique enough to make a big impression when done well.
3. Fast delivery with proposal digital asset management
Prospective clients don’t want to wait around. More than half of event planners have been frustrated by slow responses from venues. Studies show that up to 50 percent of sales go to the company that responds fastest.
But how fast is fast? Well, our data shows that in a highly competitive industry like event services, you have less than 24 hours to get your proposal in front of your prospect first. But just being the quickest on the draw isn’t enough to win over clients. The proposal has to be high-quality too.
As event services sales teams know, digital asset management is the best way to achieve speed and accuracy, especially when you need to ensure your reps are using current and correct images, videos, branding components, and content. Also referred to as DAM, digital asset management helps teams organize, find, share, and use digital assets via an up-to-date, organized content library.
DAM is key to quickly customizing proposals. We’ve seen dozens of different ways that Proposify customers organize their proposal content. The best of the best use multiple folders, consistent file naming conventions, and organize their content based on their workflow and how their proposals are created.
This could be arranged by the proposal section, by the targeted buyer persona, by the prospect industry, by product offering or a combination of these that works for that particular team. Our event service customers also tend to arrange their content using custom-designed templates to give them an added speed boost. Templates allow their sales teams to know exactly where to add that key floor plan image or spot-on case study from the content library.
Why speed helps your proposals stand out
It’s a cliche in business that everyone wants everything yesterday. But when it comes to proposals, speed really can factor into the prospect’s decision-making process.
So you need a well-oiled proposal machine running behind the scenes. Your reps must be able to get highly customized, top-quality beautiful proposals out FAST and part of that is knowing where all the pieces of the proposal puzzle are.
Bonus tip: the most outstanding proposal tactic
Think about it. Clients will be uninterested in your pricing if you can’t sell them on your product or service. You might be able to wing a quick LinkedIn video but a more formalized video to include in your proposals will need a solid script. And your content library would be pretty empty without well-written snippets, team bios, product descriptions, and case studies.
Here are some of our best proposal writing resources to help you make sure that your proposal copy stands out just as much as your visual elements:
And if you’re looking for more insight from our proposal research and what’s helping event services sales teams win more, check out our free Event Services State of Proposals 2020 report.