Most business owners think that their proposal or quotation document is something that tells a person their price and what they get for that price. Wrong! Well, partly wrong. It can be far more than that. Your quotation or proposal document can really super sell your service if you do it right. When someone allows you to send them some pricing, or a quote or a proposal, they are giving you a golden opportunity! That opening they are giving you is to really convince them you are the one to choose. Sure some people are just tyre kicking and looking for the cheapest, but if that is not your target market, then don’t take that approach. If your target market appreciates value, quality and worth, then talk to them of those points and don’t make it just about price.
Here are my top 12 tips on writing an awesome quotation or proposal that really sells your services, improves your conversion rate and helps you stand out from your competition
1. Include all the bits which are critical
Remember, if your proposal is for an official body or to be submitted as part of a grant, you absolutely will need an address, ABN and your full business name. You may trade as say Stone Business Coaching, but your trading entity may be Stone Enterprises Pty Ltd AFT Stone Family Trust T/A Stone Business Coaching. Whilst you may not always need everything in every quote, it’s just easier to always just have it. Don’t forget to have a quote or proposal number and of course the date of issue. Absolutely make sure you include a contact phone number; if a prospect wants to ring you and ask you about something, wouldn’t you want to talk to them?
2. Templates are your friend!
I cannot stress enough the value of having a template for anything you do repeatedly. A quote or proposal is no different. You do it once, do it super well and make sure it’s correct. Then ongoing, it’s simply a matter of filling in the blanks. Your date, address to, quote number, quote specifics and pricing will change … but so many of the rest of the proposal documents will not change. You might ask … but what else would you have? Well … keep reading there is far more to a quote or proposal than just price!
3. Make it look aesthetically pleasing
A quote doesn’t have to be boring; in fact it’s better if it is not. It can look great and of course should include all your branding and logo. As with any marketing document (and yes folks, this IS a marketing document) if you have a lot of text, then break that up with some imagery. If you sell products or build something which looks awesome, then show images of that. If you are a service and you are the main person providing the service (such as occurs in my case) why not include your corporate photo?!
4. Give enough detail
If you’re quoting for a printer cartridge, then a description which is three or four words would be enough. However, if you’re selling a $50K service, or even a $5M project, then you’re going to be writing a whole lot more than three or four words. Give enough information that the person knows what they are getting for their dollars and don’t assume that they will know what you normally include or not. Listing (perhaps to you) obvious things might actually substantiate the value of your proposition.
5. Write in clear and concise English
By English, I’m not talking Lawyer, Engineer, Accountant or some other specialist language. Remember to avoid industry-specific acronyms or terminology the person may not know. Often dot points are a great format to use as they are clear and easy to read. On that note, ensure the font size and font style is easy to read.
6. Include why people should buy from you
Do not presume they know you or have studied your website or LinkedIn profile. Here you may remind people you are licensed and insured, or have 30+ years of experience or specialise in a certain field or are a multi award winning business. Perhaps you’ll mention you have Quality Assurance, are a Google Partner, offer a warranty or guarantee, or some other aspect that gives you both credibility and supports that you’re the choice for this person.
7. Have a Call to Action (CTA)
This might seem obvious but many quotes don’t actually tell a prospect what to do next or how to proceed. Tell people how to proceed. Some people presume (often wrongly) that a supplier or provider will follow up so they wait for your call (you are the salesperson aren’t you?!). If you’re not going to follow up, then communicate what they need to do in order to get the ball rolling.
8. Have some rave reviews and testimonials included
No one does this! Well, no-one bar my clients who I’ve coached. Rave reviews are gold and tell a prospect how great we are. What is beautiful about testimonials is that it’s our customers and clients who are saying how great we are, not ourselves. Genuine rave reviews give buyers additional confidence that they are making the right decision by buying from you.
9. Include T&Cs
Your Terms & Conditions are an important part of your quote or proposal and whilst can be legal and technical; remember to keep the tone still warm and inviting. Avoid wording like “We expect” or “We demand” but instead use softer wording like “We ask” or “We require”. You still want to communicate the legal side of things without sounding hard or harsh. Remember to put a validity period on your quote. If your pricing is likely to change in six months, then you won’t want the subject reaching out in 3 years expecting the price remains constant.
10. Check it and proofread
Check your maths, check spelling and make sure it’s right. This might seem obvious but I suspect is rarely done. If spelling isn’t your strength, have someone who is good at this do it for you. In fact, even if it’s your strength, a fresh set of eyes will often spot something we just don’t see because we created the proposal.
11. Send as a single PDF
You should have everything in a single document (if possible). Of course, you might be using your accounting program which can make it a little harder, but not impossible as they often allow for customisation to make it look great and have more components. Remember also there are proposal programs and apps that you can use, but again, you can do basic, or make your proposal POP and stand out.
12. Check it’s been received
You’ve taken time to visit a site or meet a prospect (or even to have built a relationship with them so they are willing to have a price). For some businesses doing a quote takes hours. What about the money and energy you put into marketing so that you even got this lead? You’ve invested all this time and money and you’ve done an amazing quote, sent it via email so absolutely make sure it was received!
If you’re a business coaching client of mine I’ll review your proposal / quote documents to find ways to improve the business. I also offer a Power Hour Plus service where you buy time for me for a specific task (rather than ongoing business coaching). One of those specific tasks might be a review of your proposal document. I did this for a business recently who has since reported that her conversion rate has dramatically increased since implementing my suggestions. My service will pay for itself many, many times over. I work with clients Australia wide. To learn more or make a booking, just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.