10 Must-Haves Every Client Proposal Needs

client proposalAside from client contracts, a client proposal is probably one of the most important things your business needs to succeed. So you have to get it right!

Without an awesome proposal, you could let lucrative clients slip right through your hands. (That’s why we focus on helping people create persuasive proposals at Bidsketch.)

The most effective proposal successfully mixes in the nuts and bolts, along with a little personality and fun.

Use the details below to craft your best proposal yet!

The Basic Proposal Checklist

In order to create an awesome client proposal, that consistently helps you seal the deal, you have to include the basics.

A solid foundation is vital to make sure your business takes the correct next steps. When creating a client proposal, you’ll want to check these questions off the list:

  • Objectives: what does your project/scope of work seek to accomplish?
  • Deliverables: what will you provide to the client via your work, efforts, time, etc?
  • Breakdown of tasks included: what are the details of your project or work?
  • Timeline: how long will implementation take, and when will the project or work be completed? If it’s an ongoing assignment, break down when elements will be delivered (Weekly? Bimonthly? Monthly? Quarterly?)
  • Cost: how much will your services cost, and how/when is the client expected to pay?
  • Evidence: can you add in any testimonials from current clients or references for social proof?

Basically, divide your proposal into each of these sections, and then include the answers from the checklist to create a solid starting point.

10 Must-Haves Every Client Proposal Needs

Once you’ve gotten the basics covered, you can move onto making it an awesome client proposal — one that will make a client want to hire you on the spot!

1. Explain your process in detail.

Don’t skimp on the details and action steps you plan to take to complete this work, and help your client achieve the goals they’re looking to meet.

You don’t have to go into extreme detail, but a broad overview of your plan helps clients see that you know what you’re talking about (which lends you credibility) and that you’re prepared to get to work on their behalf right away.

2. Define the scope of the project.

Your proposal should include an explanation of what you’ll do for the client, and how you’ll get the job done. These are your deliverables. But you also must include an explanation of what you will not do.

You need to establish what is within the scope of the project — and what is not. This helps you avoid scope creep and establishes clear guidelines for what the client can expect.

3. Infuse your personality.

In other words, your proposal should look like it came from your unique brand. Use language, fonts, color schemes, and a design that aligns with your name or company.

Make it fun, but keep it slightly understated; you want these small elements to be subtle reminders of where your proposal came from, not things that take over and blind your clients to what you’re actually saying.

4. Include a call to action (CTA).

Provide clients with a clear idea of the next steps they are to take in order to get started working with you. You don’t want to send in a killer proposal, only to miss landing a new client because they simply weren’t sure what they needed to do next. Make it easy for them!

Additionally, let them know you plan to follow up in a day or two, to see if they have questions. Or if they prefer to get started now, then they can do XYZ.

5. Go the extra mile.

Customize each proposal for each individual client. You can never go wrong by doing some research about the client or business before potentially working with them. Spend the extra time to review their website, check out their Twitter feed, or even shoot them a friendly email to say hi.

You want to focus on your client’s goals, not yours. Take time and choose your words with care and put things in terms of your client’s priorities and goals (instead of putting the bulk of your focus on selling yourself).

6. Include features and benefits.

In your explanations, don’t push buzzwords. Instead, focus on thoroughly explaining the features and benefits. A feature is usually a specific action, while a benefit is what your client actually gets out of you performing the action.

Here’s an example of wording you can use in your proposal to get this point across: “Will provide [a specific feature of your services], in order to [create specific benefit or value for client].”

7. Avoid industry jargon. 

Speak plainly and don’t use words that your potential client may not understand. Anyone should be able to pick up your proposal and comprehend what your main objective is.

If you need help, think of it as if you’re talking to a good friend, and how you’d explain your point to them. Keep it short, sweet and to the point.

8. Make it easy to get in touch.

Make sure your contact information is included somewhere on the proposal. You’ll want to include things like your email address and phone number, as well as where they can find you on social media.

Most business owners like to jump online to learn more about you before deciding to work with a business. So it’s a good idea to include your website address and something like your Twitter handle.

9. Keep it professional.

Nothing says you’re a sloppy business owner than having your proposal riddled with typos and mistakes. Don’t overlook the importance of making your proposal clean and professional. Always proofread before sending, or ask a fellow editor to give it a once over, to avoid any typos and spelling errors.

10. Add videos or photos.

Who says your proposal has to be standard text? Don’t be afraid to add a video of you showing how excited you are to work with them, or include some fun photos of yourself as a “day in the life” showcasing what your business does.

A video doesn’t have to be anything elaborate, just a short 15-20 seconds will do perfectly.  It could be the very thing that helps your proposal stand out among the rest.

How to Create a Standout Proposal

Create each proposal with care and give it the time it deserves to ensure it’s great. Don’t skimp on the details and make sure to run over this checklist before sending out your next one. Your business will thank you for it!

About Carrie Smith


Carrie Smith is a financial artist and founder of The Client Connection, a matchmaking service for clients and freelancers who want to avoid job boards and instead build quality businesses. In 2013 she quit her full-time accounting job and now works as a full-time business consultant and writer. Find her on Twitter (@carefulcents).

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Chris Bourne

Some great ideas, think I may be revising my proposal and adding some of these great ideas.

Thanks

Patrick

Some good pointers here but have to take issue with #10 “add a video showing how excited you are to work with them” – seriously?

What would that involve? Bouncing on a sofa, Tom Cruise style, perhaps?

Ethan

These are very good ideas. Are there real proposal examples for download we can actually see this implemented on?

Thanks.

Carrie Smith

Patrick, you’re more than welcome to go overboard with the video. But I was just meaning a short personal video expressing your thanks and showing enthusiasm for getting to work together. However, if you’re interested in Tom Cruise style, then by all means.

Tom Deaknic

Yeah I agree with Patrick, a video would be weird. My clients would reject any proposals that have video in them. Instead I recommend melting some jellybeans and smearing the good, good juice on the page.

Alex Moscow

Awesome post, thanks for sharing.

Do you have some examples of great proposals?

Carrie Smith

Hi Alex, to answer your question, yes I do know of some great proposals. I will start putting them together in a list for another post soon. Thanks for asking!

Patrick

Yeah, my point on video etc comes from learning the hard way not to do anything that places you in a subordinate position to the client.

To some clients that can be a signal to start treating you like an underling – it can make you look desperate for their business – and be the cue for lots of little extra requests for no extra money.

Just something to bear in mind.

Oh, by the way, the comment above this, entitled Quotes, is spam and you may want to remove it.

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