The Guide to Creating Killer Proposals

March 16, 2022

Creating killer proposals may well be the crucial step in turning a lead into a client. With that in mind, let me ask you…How are your business proposals faring?  
How you can give your business the edge in winning contracts?
If only we knew the answer to that question.
Or maybe we do?
See…creating killer proposals may well be the key. It’s arguably the most important step in the sales process.
If you ask me, we don’t hear enough about the importance of proposals.
It’s the crucial moment all the ‘grooming’ effort led up to.
When done well, a proposal tells your future client you actually listened to what they had to say. It tells them you understand their struggles and you’re getting what the company is about.
It also sets you up for a successful completion of the project.
It’s fair to say creating a good proposal can’t be a quick and dirty job.
So, let me ask you…
How are your business proposals faring?  Do you put enough thought and effort into your business proposals? What’s your success rate?
Or maybe, just maybe… Is there room for improvement?

Julie Delucca-Collins And The Importance Of Creating Killer Proposals

Setting up killer-proposals is the topic of my podcast with guest Julie Delucca-Collins from Go Confidently Services.
Coach, speaker, author and seasoned former senior executive, Julie is on a mission to share her extensive experience and insight with other women in business. After all, if you don’t get your wisdom into the world, nobody can benefit from it, right?!  So, Julie speaks, she writes, and she coaches if you let her.
Julies book ‘Confident You’ starts with a chapter discussing the importance of clarity around your values. It’s not a coincidence. Because in Julies book (see what I did there? ) your values, your brand and your processes are what you’re selling. (!!!!)

What’s Your Brand Got To Do With It?

People often mistake their brand with their logo and the company's colours. But that’s entirely missing the point. Your brand is about the VALUES you bring to the table.
Because like it or not, we need to remind ourselves that people will do business with us because they like and trust us. Not because they are a fan of green!
Most of the time, we invite our clients to work with us with a proposal. After we’ve been building a rapport with the client, this is our one stab at turning a lead into a client.
So if a proposal is that important, what can you do to outrun the competition and seal the deal?
Time to discuss the proposal processes, proposal communication and creating killer-proposals, oh my!

Before You Even Start Creating A Business Proposal

Before you even sit down to write your proposal, you need to have a few things in place. To put it bluntly, you need to do your homework. No two ways about it!

1. Nail Down The Core Competencies Of Your Business

What services is your business offering? Julie is quite adamant you shouldn’t try to do it all. It ties in with the brand of your business. You need to know who you are and what you do. And most importantly, stick to it!

‘Because every time you divert from your core services, you are diluting what has been proven to work!’

In Julie’s words:  ‘I can help create a business plan or set up your marketing. But I will not teach you how to speak in public (at least not at this stage), because it distracts from the focus I have in my business and the plans I’ve set out.’

2. Create A Proposal Template

When you’re a busy business owner, time is of the essence and there is no need to reinvent the wheel every time you create a proposal. That said, your proposal also needs to speak to the client. The question is, how do you walk that fine balance?

Here’s how Julie does it: the proposal tool in her accounting software allows her to drag and drop different services that make up the proposal. (Creating a business plan?-check! Setting up your marketing?-also check!). THEN she personalises this so her clients feel their pain points are addressed.

3. Set-Up A System That Makes It Easy For People To Reach Out To You

People may have questions at any stage of the sales journey, so it’s important they don’t need to scout the internet for some obscure contact details. Julie swears by an automated calendar to schedule time with her.

As things move along the nurturing process, Julie makes it a point to invite her potential clients to her email system. Not only does it make it easy for them to get in touch, it also means that even if the proposal isn’t translated into a signed business contract, she still has a point of contact for future opportunities! (Never underestimate the power of the email list, baby!)

4. Set-Up Proposal Processes (including pre-and post-proposal!)

For this, Julie uses a customer management system. It doesn’t need to be a fancy affair. Although Julies is automated now, it started out on a piece of paper.  

Every time Julie speaks to a contact, she records the date, the person she spoke to, what the outcome of the conversation was, and any follow-ups that come out of it. She records every step of the marketing-sales process. And every Sunday evening,  Julie evaluates what needs to be done in the week to come.

5. Find Out Who The Stakeholders Are

Sometimes things get complicated. You may have totally convinced your contact person who you are the answer to their problems, but they may not be the decision maker! Worse, you may never get to meet the decision maker. So… you need to find out what your decision maker’s goals are; what their objections and questions will be. Then, you groom and arm your liaison person with all the answers they can possibly need.

6. Make Sure You Have Testimonials

Decision makers may have never heard about you. So to prove you’re the competent business owner you say you are, it’s very useful to have testimonials and samples of your work at the ready.

Attributes Of An Effective Proposal

So moving on to the actual thing. According to Julie, a standout proposal has the following key characteristics.

1. Let Them Know You Understand The Pain Point

Include it in the proposal. It’s important, because your future client will feel like ‘you get them’.

2. Offer A Clear Solution To Their Problem-The Scope

  • Be specific about the solution you offer. How is it an answer to their pain points?
  • What does the transformation look like?
  • What is the result going to be?

3. Be Clear On Pricing

  • How long will it take to achieve a result? Set timelines for key intervals.
  • How often will you meet?
  • What will happen during those meetings?

4. Outline The Level Of Commitment On Their End

Success is not a one-way street. Pinning down how involved the client needs to be in the process makes them think about time allocation and commitment on their end. It gives a clear outline of the relationship and avoids a set-up for failure because of a lack of involvement on the client’s end.

5. The Early Bird Catches The Worm

When the time has arrived, you absolutely have to move it, move it with creating a good proposal and getting it on the desk of your future client. There is no time like now. Don’t wait a week, because your promising lead may well have moved on.

When The Proposal Is Out The Door…

The work ain’t done until it’s done. In actual fact, it’s never done…

1. Follow Up Your Proposal

Sometimes the follow-up leads you to the win! Life happens to everyone, so follow up and check if your lead has any further questions. Also, do it timely! (Remember, you snooze, you lose.)

2. Track The Effectiveness Of A Proposal

Ultimately, what is the best proposal for your business is a work of trial and error. It took Julie an entire year to nail down her proposals to a science. And that’s ok. The important thing is to keep track of what works. The devil may be in the detail, so make sure you don’t throw out the baby with the bath water. Don’t be afraid to ask why you didn’t win the contract.

3. Make Them Your Superfans

Referral marketing is powerful stuff. With that in mind, Julie never considers the job done when the deal is signed. You want people to recommend your business to their contacts, so you need to give them reasons to do that!

She’s not even discouraged by an initial ‘No’. That’s because people want to do business with people they have a relationship with. They may not be ready to accept a proposal from her right now, but they may want to in the future!
So here’s to hoping this blog and podcast about creating killer proposals will inspire you to set aside some time to fine-tune your proposal game. We’ve certainly covered a lot, so reach out (send me an email) if you have questions!

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