We Analyzed 2M Proposals. Here’s What You Need to Know about Beating the Competition [Free Report]

What takes a proposal from average to ace? We dug into the 2+ million sales documents in our database to find out. In the first ever Proposify State of Proposals, we reveal the best practices, insight, and strategies from companies whose close rates leave industry averages in the dust. Download the free report now!

the state of proposals 2019

8 min. read

Even for seasoned sellers, creating a proposal can be a daunting challenge.

No matter if you’ve created dozens of proposals over your career, certain questions always niggle at the back of your mind as you put together what you hope is a winning document:

What really belongs in a killer proposal? Should I take the time to jazz it up with images or just stick to the facts? Surely fifteen pages are far too many, right? But on second thought, maybe fifteen isn’t enough…

Why do some deals close instantly, while others go dark? And, most importantly, how are my competitors beating me to the punch every time?

The answers to such questions are carefully guarded business secrets that companies spend years figuring out.

As business proposal experts, we get questions like these from our customers all the time. And because we know the struggle to seal the deal better than most, we’re in a unique position to answer them.

We are obsessed with helping businesses hone their proposal process and gain a competitive advantage in incredibly tight sales races.

So that’s why we took a deep dive into our database of more than 2 million proposals to uncover all the juicy trends, hidden tips, and best practices of the most kick-ass proposals in the biz.

And we packaged up all of that data—proprietary information that you won’t get anywhere else—and turned it into the Proposify State of Proposals 2020.

The secrets to landing your next deal (and the one after that) may just be right here.

In our free report, we reveal the practice and process behind the sales teams that leave industry average close rates in the dust. You’ll learn the most effective way to structure your proposal, components to include, and the best time to send to maximize the chance of converting your warm lead into a customer.

And, we’ve distilled everything we’ve found into a list of actionable takeaways that you can apply today to make sure your next proposal is a winner.

Simply put: this guide will change the way you think about creating business proposals and help you land more deals.

You can get the full report here, but read on for a glimpse into some of the things we cover.

How long is the ideal proposal?

While the composition of every proposal differs depending on the complexity of the deal, one struggle is universal when creating your winning document:

Should I go long and detailed, or brief and concise?

Conflicting information abounds everywhere you look. Some salespeople claim prospects need to see every minute detail of the deal down to the colour of the delivery truck.

While others are sure prospects want their proposals to be more of a high-level overview; a reduction of all that detail into a short, sweet, easy-to-read package.

We analyzed the size and shape of every Proposify proposal that’s ever been sent to put this debate to rest. And sure enough, an optimal zone emerged.

Check out the report for a detailed breakdown of how long your proposal should be, and the ideal number of pages and sections that gives you the best chance of closing the deal.

Does including images affect the close rate?

Here at Proposify, we’re big advocates of design flexibility.

While we always knew that a well-designed proposal looks impressive, what we didn't know was whether proposal aesthetic actually improved the close rate.

This strikes at the heart of who we are and what we do, so we knew we had to put our assumptions to the test.

Do people just want the cold, hard facts they need to make an informed decision? Do images really only get in the way and add more time to an already lengthy proposal creation process?

Or, do images and other design elements help the proposal close?

We reveal the whole picture in our free report.

When should I send my proposal?

In sales, it’s easy to blame factors outside of your control for a deal falling through.

“It’s the middle of summer, of course the pipeline’s looking a little sad…”

On the other side of that coin, it’s also common to attribute success to an uptick in activity after a holiday or toward the end of a quarter.

“How good is March! My pipeline is stacked—I am SO ready for Q2.”

No matter which industry you’re in, the ebbs and flows of business are unavoidable. But, are they enough to plan a selling cycle around?

We set out to answer that question. We crunched the numbers to put some substance behind the common seasonal peaks and troughs we all experience as salespeople.

Our report contains the result of our analysis. We reveal the best time to send a proposal; from time of year all the way down to the time of day. We also break down the proposal journey from creation to close, giving you a glimpse into:

  • How your competitors hustle when it comes to getting a proposal out the door, AND;
  • How your prospects treat your proposal once it lands in their inbox.

How do customers view proposals? How long do they look at them?

Something tells me I’m not the first to point out that things are pretty digital these days.

For better or worse, we’re increasingly dependent on the devices that enhance almost every aspect of our personal and professional lives.

But despite our relentless march toward greater technological accomplishment, there are still those among us whose processes are stuck in the past.

I’ve even witnessed companies compose critical documents on typewriters. 


Although this was way back in 2018, mind you.

At Proposify, we’re happy to help usher redundant technologies into obsolescence (we’re lookin’ at you, PDFs). Our mission is to help our customers—and their customers, too—reap the benefits of automating all of those boring tasks and the time saved as a result.

We wanted to find out which devices your customers interacted with your proposals on, and for how long. I won’t say much here; if you want the entire scoop you’ll have to check out the full report. But I can reveal that the percentage of closed deals that involved typewriters was approximately zero.

How do features affect time to close?

One thing is standard across every deal, no matter how complex: you need to make it easy for your customer to say ‘yes’.

A sales process is only as smooth as its stickiest part. It’s no good if your prospects fly through the funnel only to get snagged on an obtuse and complicated sign-off.

So it was really something to see that proposals with esignatures are 3.4x more likely to close than those without.

Alright, I know I’m not supposed to give this juicy stuff away here—you’ll have to download the free report for that. But that one’s just too good to keep quiet!

We dug into the data behind features like esignatures and client input forms to see if and how they sped up the time-to-close. To give you an idea: if esignatures can more than triple the likelihood of your proposal getting signed, imagine what else other powerful tools can accomplish.

We tell it all in our report.

The report that gives your proposals the winning edge

If your proposal game is lagging, you’re missing out on revenue. Simple as that.

Creating winning proposals ain’t easy. In fact, closing the deal is one of the most challenging parts of the job for sales pros.

But it can be one of the most rewarding, too.

We wrote the State of Proposals to help closers from all industries level-up their proposal process and win more deals.

You’ll walk away with invaluable insights and proven strategies gleaned from more than 2 million sales documents; tactics you can put to the test in your very next proposal.

Don’t miss out on this definitive guide to business proposals in 2020. Download the free report now (before your competition does).

We Analyzed 2M Proposals. Here’s What You Need to Know about Beating the Competition [Free Report]

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