How to Create Proposals Your Clients Will Not Refuse


Imagine that you have been building up a pre-sale relationship with a client for some time and you need to make the final move and present your proposal. Although, very few manage to hit the perfect strike with the first ball and meet all of the client’s expectations. The goal is that you do, or at least come pretty close.

Having a well-structured and detailed proposal which leaves no room for ambiguous interpretation of its clauses usually gets the contract or unlocks the door to further negotiation, leaving your competitors well behind.

This is exactly why your proposals should be prompt and well-rounded, and if you work at a design agency, every person on your team should follow this rule. Your can achieve this goal with efficient communications, thorough analysis of requirements and a detailed presentation of your ideas. If you think you score high on these requirements, ask yourself this question:

Do I send prospective clients proposals that really stand out from the crowd?

If you paused for more than a couple of seconds, the answer is most likely no.

The Proposal Solution

Follow these recommendations to create a high converting, aesthetically pleasing and easy to interpret web design proposal:

Problem Solve

Address the problems identified by the client in your document and describe how the proposed solution will solve them. Any project or effort must solve a problem or even several problems at once – otherwise, it not worth starting altogether.

The value of your proposal lies in its problem-solving power and transparency, not in a perfect description of a complex system with a vague purpose.

Be Very Clear

Be very clear about the things you’re quoting on. Don’t let vague definitions appear on your list. The fewer questions the client has about your initial cost breakdown, the better. If you can’t explain the scope or meaning of a proposal item on the spot, you may lose what little credibility and trust you’ve managed to win so far.

Avoid terms like “miscellaneous,” “other” and – God forbid! – “etc.” Lack of clarity creates understandable suspicion and can also be used against you later on with references to these vaguely described items.

Details, Details, Details

Be sufficiently detailed. A very general quote means clients will ask for more details. However, a highly detailed breakdown may also raise questions (e.g., “how come this will take you 2 hours? I can easily do it on my own in half this time!”) and leave no room for a risk buffer.

So the rule of thumb here is to provide customers with just enough information for them to be happy and ask a minimum amount of questions (if at all). So unless your potential client is a technical person (and you are OK dealing with such an inquisitive and all-doubting client-to-be), try keeping things on a layman’s level to prevent unnecessary and time-consuming negotiations.

Eliminate Math Errors

Do your math homework. Always check and double-check numbers. Miscalculations tend to create a bad impression with customers who look for perfect accuracy from Eliminate day one.

Utilize an Excel spreadsheet to eliminate errors, or you can use = anyone if the many online proposal management services to create mathematically sound proposals.

Perfect Timing

Keep the timing right. Being the first one to submit a proposal does not necessarily mean you are going to win the bid. Sending your proposal too soon is risky if it is not yet a high-quality document, so take your time and do your best work possible – but keep in mind that time is of the essence.

Be Creative

Lightly customize your proposals. A document with a nice header, footer, proper formatting and a clickable table of contents will definitely perform better than a lackluster list of items that is hard to navigate, so do your best to make your proposal aesthetically pleasing, or at the very least, well-formatted.

If you are a design company, make the proposal a demonstration of your skills and ensure that the client sees how good you are at interpreting high-level business requirements into specific tasks. Be professional and creative – and rest assured that your client will notice your efforts.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is this: don’t rush and don’t be late with your proposals, suggest possible solutions of the client’s problems and be creative.

If you do everything right, there is a pretty good chance that your client will give your proposal the green light and your pre-sale relationship will finally turn into a successful commercial marriage.

Good luck!

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