The Ultimate Proposal Checklist
- Understand Your Client
Before you start drafting your proposal, ensure you’ve spent time researching your clients and their business needs so you can accurately reflect these in your proposal. The time you invest in this process will shine through in your proposal and give you a greater chance of sealing the deal.
A complex design may seem like a great idea at the time but remember your clients will care less about a fancy aesthetic and more about the content contained in your proposal. Split your proposal into easy to digest sections, with each segment articulated in a clear and concise way. When it comes to pricing, don’t overcomplicate what you’re offering, keep it simple to avoid losing trust.
- Patience is the Trick
After you’ve written your first draft, avoid temptation to fire off your business proposal straight away. The next time you read through your proposal you will undoubtedly want to make changes. Sleep on your proposal and revisit the next day.
- Be Your Own Guinea Pig
Email yourself the proposal before you allow anyone else to set their eyes on it for you to get a feel of how it will appear in your client’s inbox.
- …And Then, Ask For a Second Opinion
No one is the best critic of their own work. After you’ve proofread your proposal yourself, seek the advice from an experienced proposal writer and take onboard their suggestions and edits.
- Set the Tone
Take note of how your tone is coming across in your proposal, does it appropriately match your business or brand? Remember proposals are intended to appeal to your future clients and customers. Use language that your client will be familiar with that’s easy to ingest and remember. Cut out any jargon or buzzwords that are likely to make your intended audience confused.
Ensure your proposal includes a clear-cut summary of everything that you have previously communicated with your client, remind them of the little details that excited your clients in the first place. In the digital age we are all swamped with information on a daily basis, so a gentle reminder never hurts. Reviewing the information that you accumulated in initial meetings and communications will show that you have all the information you need to aid your client through the project or solution that you’re proposing.
- Client Focus
There’s no I in proposal, so centre your proposal around your client and what you can offer your client instead of reeling off information that may be deemed as irrelevant that makes your clients wonder ‘what’s in it for me?’. Your proposal is not a standalone product. The success of your proposal will largely depend on your earlier meetings with clients and the relationships that you’ve formed with them.
- Forget the Logistics
Instead of detailing how your project or plan is going to go ahead, highlight WHY your project should be carried out. Avoid boring your clients with the gritty details of the inner workings of your project until you really need to.
- Problem Solve
Your proposal should serve as a manifesto of ways that your project will solve your client’s problems and meet their needs. This proves that you’ve taken an active interest in your clients and have actively tried to arrange your project to appropriately facilitate them as part of your project. This can be one of the hardest tasks to conquer if you’re sending out your proposal to a diverse array of clients.
- Nothing is Set in Stone
Don’t let your clients think that there is no room for negotiation. Allow your proposal to reflect that you’re willing to negotiate and settle on a price and solution that suits your client. Choices when it comes to pricing is the difference between making your client ask; “How much do I want to pay?” and Who do I want to pay?”. Tiered pricing solutions are a perfect way to demonstrate your flexibility, it’s also a great opportunity to up-sell to existing clients.
Reflect your client’s language in your proposal to allow them to recognise their own thoughts and input in your proposal
You don’t need a psychology degree to be able to get a clear idea of how your proposal will translate through the eyes of your clients. A simple understanding of client psychology will do the trick. When creating a proposal it is essential to understands that every client, no matter how ‘big’ or ‘small’ is influenced by the power of marketing and business psychology, which means once you’ve grasped consumer psychology it will be a handy tool at your disposal to influence behaviour.
- The reciprocity principle is the idea that if you do something positive for your clients, they will in turn feel inclined to be more co-operative. Add positive feelings of value to your proposal to see the positivity returned. This principle is highly effective at guaranteeing loyalty and retaining clients.
- Believe it or not, the colours used in your proposal and correspondence can have a massive impact on the success of your business proposals, colour can not only set you apart from your competitors, but also be used to boost your client’s mood.
- Creating scarcity is one of the best ways to ensure the success of your business proposal. If clients sense an urgency, they’re more likely to act on it. No one likes the feeling of missing out, however be sure not to overly press your clients for a decision, show your worth and demand through your communications with them, and especially in your proposal. If your proposal is as exciting as you’ve made it out to be then there’ll be more than one organisation jumping to take the bait.
So-think you’ve got what it takes to pen the perfect proposal? Well you’ll never know for sure until you give it a go, so get out there and do it!