Five Critical Elements of a Dead Sexy Proposal
This article will help you:
Create an indestructible proposal with 5 key elements so you can curate business with your ideal clients.
As a business owner, you put so much effort into designing and refining your services to provide a stellar experience for your clients. And you (hopefully) also have invested in top-notch visual design to attract clients and move them through the conversion funnel.
Somewhere in the middle of getting your prospects excited about working with you, and doing great work for them, is a not-so-little detail that often gets overlooked: Your client proposal.
If you create custom quotes for your prospects as part of winning business, this article is for you.
A boring, straight-laced template full of numbers and jargon is a missed opportunity to wow your prospects and encourage them to sign on the dotted line.
Your proposal needs a little bling. And I’m here to help you dress it up.
Why is a proposal so important?
The point of a proposal is to set you and your services apart from competitors, which there are bound to be more of especially as you get into bigger projects – and budgets.
The extra time and care you put into making sure your proposal is an extension of your brand makes you look extraordinarily polished and professional.
It conveys to your prospects the level of attention and care you’ll bring to their project.
And it can bring in work that might have gone to a competitor based on price. Even if your quote is higher than others, the right proposal signifies that you’re worth the investment.
Your ideal client has a price in mind but far beyond that, they want the job done right, and they are willing to pay more to work with someone who gives them a reason to trust the outcome will be everything they need.
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Your proposal is part of the story
Your prospects need to be brought into a great story. But the story your customers need to hear isn’t about you, and how wonderful your business is. It’s about them.
They need to hear a story in which they are the hero. Where they see their problem laid out, and get to save the day by choosing to partner with you to make their problems go away. Their happy ending isn’t a check in your hand – it’s how their business will grow when they partner with you.
Your proposal is another opportunity to tell this story and invite them into the role of hero.
Five critical elements of a proposal that leaves the competition in the dust
- A bold opening statement that shows the client you listened
Instead of leading with a huge logo, or a formal statement, use the title spot to immediately convey the benefit of what you’re going to do. You’ll draw this benefit from your clear understanding of what your prospect really needs.
For example, I often work with clients who tell me they need a “better website” or a “nicer logo.” But after I dig into what they’re really after, I might lead with a statement like:
John, you need a website that tells your story brilliantly and gets you new clients.
This is going to showcase the benefits of the project and connect with the reader far more than a title like “Proposal for Custom Web Design and Development for ABC Carpets.” Using their name also makes it personal and engaging.
It’s important to include your logo and your business name unobtrusively, but no amount of looking cool is going to speak to your clients about how well you’ll actually cater to their needs.
- A well-laid-out problem
By stating the problem clearly, you’re communicating to the client how well you listen and understand their needs.
You’re validating their experience, which builds connection. And you’re beginning to craft the story in which they can become a hero, by laying out the conflict that sets the scene.
This problem might be keeping your prospect up at night, or causing them to lose customers. Often it’s the inverse of your bold opening statement and peeks a layer or two deeper.
For a recent client of mine who’s an architect, our exploratory interview revealed these issues that I outlined in the proposal:
- Your current website doesn’t represent you well.
- You need a website that speaks to several different types of clients.
- Your audience can’t see how dedicated you are to ensuring each project succeeds beautifully.
- A prediction of what will happen if the problem isn’t solved
Now comes the plot twist.
And while I’m not suggesting that you scare your clients or catastrophize the issues, this prediction gently shines a light down the road on what could happen if the problem doesn’t get fixed:
- Their clients might assume they can’t do a professional job.
- Their customers might arrive at the first call skeptical, rather than trusting.
- Small-but-important parts of their project might get overlooked by a cheaper competitor.
- A statement of how you are the clear solution
Position yourself as the one to fix the issue.
Unpack that bold opening statement to help your clients see how easy their lives will be when they choose you to solve the problem and avert the disaster you outlined.
For my architecture client, I listed three things that would help them get that brilliant website that would bring more clients who are primed and excited to work with them.
- I’ll tell your story beautifully and effectively so it will be easy for people to start working with you.
- Your new website will be a dream to use and edit, so it’s easy to keep up to date.
- You’ll begin to stand out as a top choice in your field so you’ll get more clients and be able to charge what you’re worth.
- Your proven track record
Case studies and testimonials reveal that you can do what you promised.
Particularly when you can create a connection by showcasing how you’ve solved a comparable problem for a similar business or client.
Case studies have a tendency to get wordy, so just like in those high school essays you completed, I’ll nudge you to keep words to a bare minimum. An effective success story quickly and clearly lays out the problem, solution, and results, with a strong testimonial in the client’s own words.
These success stories expand your prospect’s vision of what great things will come to their business when they hire you.
Pull your proposal together with visual design that is attractive and functional
In addition to the story you’re telling, you’ll need to fit in the details, including the scope of work, timeline, and budget.
Great visual design works these elements into your inviting drama while pulling it all together with brand colors, highlighting the most salient concepts, and making their next steps clear.
This complete package draws a direct connection between the problem, the plot twist, and you as the solution. It says, we may cost a little more, but we truly understand the problem you need us to solve, and we’re clearly worth it.
With all these elements, you’ll have an indestructible proposal that curates business with your ideal clients. If someone passes on your proposal, that’s an indication they wouldn’t have been the right fit and you can be grateful you dodged a bullet.
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- Your proposal is often overlooked, but it’s a critical client conversion tool that offers you more chances to make a connection and show how well you listened to them.
- A thoughtful proposal is an opportunity to tell a powerful story, in which your client clearly sees the problem, how you can fix it, and how they can be the hero by choosing you as the solution.
- A polished and cohesive proposal will win you business even when you cost more money than your competitors. The extra time and care you put into making sure your proposal is an extension of your brand conveys to your prospects the level of attention and care you’ll bring to their project, and signifies that their investment in you is worth it.
Here’s a video breakdown of 5 key elements of an indestructible proposal that will curate business with your ideal clients.