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How to Create a Winning Proposal in 15 Minutes

So, you have a prospect who wants to see your proposal. What can you do to make sure it is a winner?

The question can be hard to answer because it actually comes down to a lot more than a proposal. A lot of thought and strategy go into developing proposals that have a dramatic impact on your overall success rate. 

In this article, we will look at how you can create a winning proposal in 15 minutes using the proposal software Better Proposals as an example. We will look at the four critical page templates your proposal should have that will help you be more successful. The pages are current situation, solution, expected results and next steps. 

Let’s get into it.

Current situation

In the first meeting you had with a prospect, you should have written lots of notes on where they are, where they want to go and what challenges they have getting there. These notes will form the basis for what you can write in the proposal under the current situation. 

You will want to list what was discussed in the first meeting and maybe even put in a few questions that you can ask in the second meeting. When a prospect answers, you simply write in the reply in real time. That way the prospect feels they are being listened to and you get a deeper understanding of their situation. 

A nice extra benefit with this is that by writing the prospect’s answer, they are indirectly writing their own proposal. 

Towards the end of the current situation page, you can add a couple of sentences summarising their needs in a way that leads into a solution from you. In the example above, the sentence reads: “At the moment you have no systems in place to reach out to your potential clients on LinkedIn. This proposal is written to address that need.”

By putting both lines towards the end of the current proposal page, you get the prospect to confirm they have a problem, and you give them a reason for reading the rest of the proposal. 

Once you have turned your offer into a product, this should ideally be the only page you change in the proposal.

Solution

On the solution page, you list the solution to the issues you identified in the current situation page. The solution page should ideally have two elements to it: an outline of a strategy as well as the specific steps you will take the prospect through to implement the strategy.

The more you are able to illustrate the solution, the better. You may also want to add images or flowcharts to the solution page. When you are going through your solution with clients, you have to make sure they understand the solution and whether they have any questions. 

If you have standardised your offering, this page should ideally be identical, if not nearly identical, for each prospect you send it to. 

Expected results

After going through the prospect’s current situation and having provided a solution, it is time to build some credibility. You can do that by adding a page around expected results based on previous clients you have worked with. 

Here you can start with a statement outlining the expected results before you get into specific case studies. 

In your case studies, you ideally want to get into as much detail as possible about the starting situation of your previous clients, what you did for them and the results you got for them. For each testimonial, there should be a link for the prospect to contact each company. Most prospects will not do this but being willing to share that information immediately shows that you are confident in your abilities. 

You may be tempted to go through this page quickly. Don’t. This is where you can tell stories about what you did for each client. This can give the prospect an idea of what it is like working with you. 

Ideally, you should have a variety of different client testimonials that you can switch to better match the prospect’s industry. Keep in mind the best testimonials are not the most impressive, but the ones the prospect can most relate to—someone like them. 

Practically, however, this page will probably be the same for most clients and should not take you any extra time when you are creating new proposals.

Next steps

At the end of your proposal, you want to have a page where you get into the next steps of the process. This is where you get to the details of the deal, such as what it costs and so on. 

Many clients want to get to this page quickly to find out what it costs, but you want to show this in the very end of a presentation, so they know the value of what you are offering before they see the price. 

You can add additional value by including extra deliverables to increase the perceived value of what will be received. Depending on what you are offering, you might want to consider adding strategy sessions as well as access to mastermind groups, content or support that could increase your client’s perceived success rate.

The key here is perception. You want to create the impression of providing a lot of value.

Towards the end of the proposal, you want to give a money-back guarantee so all the risk is on you. The prospect should view your proposal as having a high potential upside with little or no downside. 

Winning a proposal is all nice and good, but the real close is when there is money in the bank. That is probably the main reason you want to use proposal software like Better Proposal. It can integrate with PayPal and Stripe, so you can collect an initial payment and even set up a subscription afterwards. 

The last thing you want is to chase after your money. 

So towards the end of this page, add a signing section that automatically takes the prospect to a payment page afterwards.

But how do I write it in 15 minutes and still close?

The key to writing a proposal in a short amount of time is to have a variety of premade templates to begin with. Each offer you have should have at least one template you can use to start writing your proposal. 

You might want to expand on that by creating different templates for each customer profile you have. For instance, you might have one profile for financial advisers and another for SaaS business founders. 

You also want to make sure you only tweak 10-15% of each template every time you create a new proposal. It is also vitally important that you always show your prospects the proposal in draft mode asking for their feedback before you send the final proposal to them. You might even want to go as far as asking how you can tweak the proposal further to make them happy. 

That is because you want to know how they react to various aspects of the proposal and have a chance to improve it based on feedback before you send it.

Your end reward for taking the time to listen to and integrate a prospect’s feedback is a higher close rate. This will vary depending on your lead source, but you want it to stay over 30%. You want to know that you can close one in three people who get in the door.

This number is easily tracked as the conversion rate of sent proposals.

Action items

Now you know how to put together a winning proposal, it’s time to act.

  • Identify which pages are the key parts in your proposals. In this article, we covered the current situation, strategy, expected results and next steps. Are there any others you want to add to yours? Depending on your business, you might want to add pages for values or a page with terms and conditions.  
  • Build each page you need. Start with the current situation. Here, you might want to add typical questions you want answered. Then move on to strategy, expected results if you have the data to back up previous results and, finally, next pages. If you have added other pages, get to them as well. 
  • Fill in a complete template based on your ideal customer. Look for your ideal customer either through Google or LinkedIn and create a template around them. That way, when you are in a conversation with a customer who matches the template, you know what you can do to get started. 

Final thoughts

Creating a winning proposal is less about creating a great proposal and more about listening to a prospect’s situation and using the information you collect to improve your chances of getting the sale. 

Therefore, look at the tips in this article less as answers and more as a starting point. Consider your own experience and use it to improve on these ideas to best suit your business. Your end goal should be to have a sharper argument for why someone should work with you and the tools to make the process scalable.

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