FOLLOW THESE TIPS TO CLEAR YOUR PATH TO A YES
Wouldn’t it be great if good ideas just sold themselves? Obviously. But that’s not the reality in most cases. Making a sale is a journey, and there’s an art to guiding prospective clients through a smooth, nonthreatening experience from pitch to purchase. Here are some tips to help you master the craft of proposal creation and delivery.
Every proposal should include these six elements to be effective:
1. The why—Clearly outline what the client has identified as their specific challenges and goals. Why did they ask for help and what will successful results look like to them after you’ve worked your magic?
Remember to use their own words whenever possible to reflect that you were listening. BUT don’t depend solely on what they say their problems are—it’s almost never what they think the issue is, is it?
You may be asking how you can know what the real challenges are if you can’t depend on what they initially share. Well, this is where that handy, dandy Needs Assessment comes into play. What? You don’t have one of those?! That just won’t do. Here’s our free workbook “How to Build & Leverage Paid Assessments” to help you resolve that little hiccup.
2. The what—what’s the scope of the project and what strategy will you use to help the client achieve their goals?
Strategy is where you shine! Transitioning the client from where they are to where they want to be comes from your unique strategy. This is where you demonstrate why they would pick you over the competition by highlighting the creative ideas you have for solving the problems identified in The Why section.
Strategy needs structure or it’s difficult for the client to understand the plan. That comes in the form of the scope of the project, where we fight the dreaded scope creep that’s been known to create all sorts of chaos. Clearly defined proposals cut down on the drama and organize ideas in a way that’s easy to follow.
A MAJOR side note here: Also include what’s NOT within the scope of the project to avoid those awkward moments when the client doesn’t feel they’re getting everything they thought they were. Additionally, this is a great place to give a shoutout to your trusted referral resources. If you can’t help with any particular need, give them someone who can. Everyone will thank you for it.
3. The when and the how—what’s the detailed action plan, including deliverables, that will get the client where they want to be?
My good friend Pamela Wiley told me “passion without process is just a fun conversation,” and she wasn’t kidding! You’re going to get a lot of false starts and stops on both sides if you don’t provide a realistic Action Plan. This is where you break down that scope of project into actionable steps for getting that amazing strategy of yours implemented and those deliverables, well, delivered.
Timelines can be tricky, I know. But without them, accountability can be a real problem—for you and for your client. Keep everyone on track by clearly outlining when actions will be taken to allow the plan to move forward efficiently and to keep those deliverables coming.
4. Case study—how has this approach worked for others and what results can the client expect to get from working with you?
This is about managing risk for the client. Prospects can be skittish, likely because they’ve been burned before (haven’t we all?). They’re going to feel better about making an investment of time and money if they can see that someone else was successful with you.
5. Cost—what investment (money, time, resources) is needed to get those results?
Here it is folks: that moment when, for some of us, your stomach starts to grumble or you start to hold your breath. Time to talk turkey, and by turkey I mean moolah, the old cashola, MONEY! Don’t make this a bigger deal than it really is. If you’ve done the previous sections well (and the work that goes into them), this part is a piece of cake.
When value exceeds cost, people will buy all day long, But when cost exceeds value, well, let’s just say nobody is buying crapola. That’s what all this buildup has been about—establishing such a high value for what you’re offering that the cost is minimal in comparison.
Just keep it simple and don’t overthink it. I know that’s easier said than done, but it’s true. In the delivery section of this post, we’re going to talk about pitching the proposal LIVE (which is non-negotiable, people, so lean into it). By delivering the proposal live, you’ll be able to see for yourself if they really do choke on the cost. That way you’ll be able to offer to remove certain deliverables or to break down the scope of the project into phases to allow for a lower price point. So, take a breath, and ask for what you’re worth.
6. Next steps—what actions must the client take to get the project moving forward?
Time to get a little bossy! I know it seems self-explanatory, but truthfully, most people need a little guidance on the “what now?” front. If you don’t tell them to sign on the dotted line, pay the bill, and schedule their first session, they most likely will fail to take action.
Outlining what happens next is a crucial element to managing client expectations AND for moving them past the payment part and onto the actions that lead to the change they were looking for in the first place.
Finally, remember that wording matters. You’re trying to sell a service to benefit the client. So, be sure to write sales copy that demonstrates what those benefits are, rather than just explaining the features of your strategy.
Email is where proposals go to die, which prompts you to start telling yourself stories about why the client hasn’t signed on the dotted line yet (beware of the stinkin’ thinkin’ that can come from this). Never send a proposal into the email abyss, potentially never to be seen or responded to again. Always, always, always deliver proposals live in person or on a video call. (Okay, okay, I know. Sometimes it’s just not possible. In those cases, send a screencast recording with an embedded tracking link so you have some visibility into who watched it and for how long.)
Pitching proposals live to decision-makers (ideally the ones with purchasing power) gives you the advantage of watching body language and picking up on micro-expressions that may indicate speed bumps, so you can address them live and adjust the proposal on the fly. That way, you can send a proposal at the end of the presentation that’s ready for signing.
Speaking of signing, one of the best ways to avoid delays in closing a deal is to use proposal software that integrates contract signing and payment functions. Making clients wait on legal docs or invoices gives them time to reverse course or, at a minimum, slow way down.
Eliminate that wait time and add the value of convenience by using software, such as Honeybook or Better Proposals (there are others, but those are the ones we’re most familiar with) to create your proposals. As there are several software solutions to choose from, consider these questions when deciding which one is right for you:
- Does it support contract signing within the proposal?
- Does it support internal payment options and are you happy with the integrations they offer, such as Stripe or PayPal?
- Does it track when the proposal is opened and viewed?
- Does it send reminders for action items?
- What does it cost?
The proposal process can seem daunting at first. But once you establish an effective template and perfect your delivery, you’ll be well-positioned to replicate success again and again. Can you say SHOW ME THE MONEY?!
If you need further support for creating pitch-perfect proposals that convert, book a call with us now or see our Resources page for more tips, tricks, and techniques for making and keeping more money in your business.