Proposals: 4 Mistakes That Make You Lose Prospects

How to turn a proposal request into a new client...

January 1, 2024

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Your prospect asked you for a proposal?

Great!

Here's what most entrepreneurs would do at this stage:

  1. Create a quick PDF proposal.
  2. Send it to the client via email.
  3. Follow up a week later if there's no response.

You too?

Well, I have good and bad news for you!

The bad news is that by doing this, you're not giving yourself any advantages.

The good news is that it's very simple to correct this!

We'll show you 4 simple things to implement to better convert your proposal requests into real clients!

Firstly, keep in mind that when a prospect asks for a proposal, the contract is far from being signed. You still have to roll out the red carpet to convince them that you're the right service provider!

Especially since it's very likely that your prospect has also requested proposals from 2 or 3 competitors.

Mistake #1: Sending a Flimsy Proposal

Don't rush to send your proposal to your prospect.

Sure, you need to be quick to avoid being outdone, but between a provider who sends a flimsy proposal with little information and another who sends a complete and professional proposal 24 hours later, who do you think your prospect will choose?

Your proposal should be a real commercial proposition and should include the following:

  1. Reassure your prospect:
  2. An attractive and quick presentation of your company: avoid 30-page presentations, get straight to the point by presenting your history, specialization, team, and a few key figures.
  3. Testimonials/references from clients and concrete illustrations of your work.
  4. Prove to your prospect that you understand their unique need:
  5. A quick summary of their project: objectives, criteria, timing… This can be done in a Word document or even in the body of an email.
  6. Tip: If you've already started thinking about your prospect's project, this gives you a clear advantage. However, be careful not to spend too much time on it, as you risk losing money if your prospect doesn't sign with you.

Mistake #2: Being Too Greedy or Rigid with Your Rates

  1. Don't be too greedy, start small!
  2. This will allow you to sign a new client and then build loyalty or sell additional services.
  3. For example, if you're a media agency, don't immediately propose managing the entire budget with a 12-month commitment. Start by managing a part of the budget (e.g., Google Ads) for 3 months.
  4. Another example, if you're in event planning, make a maximum number of items "optional" to reduce the total proposal cost. Once signed, you can come back to sell these options.
  5. Give options:
  6. Consider making 2 different proposals to maximize your chances, such as a more affordable version with fewer services.
  7. Precision, precision, precision.
  8. Be as precise as possible, as this will justify your rates and reassure the client of your professionalism.

Who do you think a prospect would choose between an agency that sends a proposal with a single line "Website Creation" and 2/3 bullet points, and another that details the project with time spent and deliverables for each item?

Mistake #3: Poor Presentation of Your Proposal

Your beautiful proposal (or rather commercial proposition) is ready, it's time to present it to the client!

Here's the approach to follow:

  • Use a tracking tool to know when your prospect views your proposal.
  • Propose electronic signature to make acceptance much simpler.
  • Write a detailed and well-formulated email to your prospect that briefly explains the contents of the proposal and reminds them how much you'd love to work with them. Use a template to save time.
  • Avoid sending an email with 4 attachments and 3 links! Compile everything in a folder, drive, or webpage.

Mistake #4: Not Following Up

Call your prospect to ask if they have received the proposal, if they've had time to review it, if they have any questions...

If they say they haven't, still offer to go through it together over the phone so you can explain its contents, or arrange a meeting if needed.

Wait 1 to 3 working days after sending the proposal for this first call.

This exchange is crucial to identify two things:

  • The prospect's doubts/objections to your proposal.
  • The progress of their decision-making process.Ask your prospect these concrete questions over the phone:
  • Have you had a chance to review our proposal? Do you have any questions? Doubts?
  • Are you considering other providers at the moment?
  • What will be the determining criteria for choosing your provider?
  • When do you plan to make your decision?
  • Who else is involved in the decision-making process? -> It's crucial to contact these people to increase your chances.

Follow up with your prospect a few days after the call if you don't hear back. Find out what the issue is and adjust the proposal if necessary.

These timelines can obviously vary depending on your prospect! Decision cycles are a bit longer at large corporations compared to an individual or a startup :)

Two last tips:

  1. Send 1 or 2 emails with relevant content to your prospect (to follow up without being pushy): this could be a relevant client testimonial, a buying guide, additional resources, a video...
  2. Use SMS! Creating an SMS exchange with a prospect is extremely effective. It's like having direct and privileged access to communicate with them. For this, send a short and professional SMS.

SMS Template:
Hello [prospect's name], this is [your name] :)
I'm sending you this text so you can have my number.
I shared the proposal for ... earlier, don't hesitate to call me directly.
Talk soon!

There you have it, all the keys to convert even more prospects!

To summarize:

  • Enrich your proposals with relevant content (presentation of your company/team, project summary, testimonials).
  • Be as precise and flexible as possible with your rates.
  • Present your proposals properly (e-signature, folder...).
  • Implement a simple follow-up process and be proactive after sending the proposal!

See you soon on Hubflo!

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