We researched over 25,000 proposals worth $270 million dollars to find the key differences between winning and losing proposals.
We've taken everything we learned about winning business proposals and created this library with sample content, infographics, and free proposal templates that you can download.
Most of your competitors aren't sending proposals at all. They're sending estimates. Maybe you're even doing it yourself.
Do you know the difference?
Our research of over 25,000 client proposals (over $270 million) found that it's critical.
Estimates and quotes are created to tell a client what will be done and how much it will cost.
They keep the client focused on cost instead of the value they'll receive.
Sending a client an estimate might seem like the perfect way to quote a price, but it comes with its own set of big problems.
First, only showing pricing takes the client's focus away from the results they're asking for, and emphasizes units of time or the cost required per task.
Also, labeling services in the way that most estimates are shown, invites clients to compare your prices with your competitors'.
You're commoditizing your service.
You offer a special service, a real solution for the client. But when you let the dollar value of your work become the focus of communication, you're lowering yourself into a vast pool of virtually identical competition.
In the commodity space, work drops straight to the lowest bidder.
Estimates tend use technical descriptions which can get complicated. A list of various services, each with its own dollar cost, quickly becomes confusing.
Tip: If a client is confused, they probably won’t hire you. Fees should be simple and communicate value. It's not about being creative as much as clearly showing value. This applies whether you're pitching small business or enterprise deals.
Proposals are persuasive documents that also include price. They're written to show clients that you understand their business and know exactly how to solve the problems they face.
Our research shows that proposals with less than 5 pages are 31% more likely to win.
A lot of sales proposals start out great but go on for too long. Knowing what to leave out is just as important as knowing what to include.
How can you give potential clients the information they need and remain compelling?
Following a proven structure will help you make your strongest points without carrying on too long.
Tip: Many clients will read proposals out of order or flip back and forth between sections. So every element should be carefully structured to persuade. Take a look at the proposal examples on this page for a good guide on length.
Proposals with upsells generate 32% more revenue.
The key is to offer enhanced options. That way, you don't have to do any more selling. The prospective client is already sold on your service, you're just offering to make that service even better.
So if you were a creative working with a partner (offering website design), maybe you could offer the enhanced service of mobile-responsive site programming.
If you're a marketing agency running Google PPC ads for small business, offer the enhancement of creating the landing pages and drip campaigns that nurture those leads, for a higher ROI.
Don't sell the client on something new. Offer them a better version of something they’re already buying.
Here are a few power-up and upsell ideas to get you started:
|Retainers||Recurring services like reporting, maintenance, management of certain tasks/operations, and risk mitigation.|
|Upsells||Done for you option where execution of project, campaign, business plan, or other business effort are completely handled|
|Discounts||Discounting premium add-ons or upfront/fast payment discount (helps increase cash flow)|
Winning services proposals get to clients 26% faster.
We found that your turnaround time makes a big difference. Less than 24 hours separated our average winning turnaround time (2.7 days) from the average losing time (3.4 days).
It's a fine line to walk. You don't want to be sloppy, but you want to do everything you can to respond quickly.
Timing can often make the difference landing a client and missing out.
Project proposals can be tedious chores if you're starting from scratch every time. But they don't have to be.
Following the winning business proposal templates below will save you time and streamline and proposal-writing process.
It's a proven recipe for more clients!