The faster technology evolves, the more important it becomes for IT professionals to communicate effectively.
In a recent study of IT and security companies, 58% of respondents listed communication skills as the most important soft skill they looked for in new employees.
For managed service providers (MSPs), being able to provide value for your customers is only half the battle.
The other half is communicating that value. The majority of your customers won’t have anywhere near the depth of technical knowledge and experience to fully understand the services you can provide for them. Your sales team needs to structure your communications in a way that allows potential clients to quickly grasp what you can offer - and why it’s better than your competitor’s offer.
This clarity needs to be embedded across all your client communications - and your service proposal is no exception. When thinking about your IT services proposal, how well are you doing this today? If you haven't been sending formal proposals, or you think yours could use some improvements, read on to learn how you can create a service proposal template that drives sales for your organization.
What is an IT services proposal, and why do I need one?
An IT services proposal is a sales document that outlines the specific solutions and strategies your business can provide to meet the unique technology needs of a client’s business.
As a written outline of your service, your business proposal should communicate everything the client needs to know to choose you as their vendor. In addition to showcasing your understanding of their industry and challenges, the proposal should clearly and persuasively outline the scope and costs of the project or services.
Given the level of specific technical detail involved in outsourcing IT services, it’s customary for the potential client to provide the IT services provider with a request for proposal (RFP), before the creation of the proposal itself.
The RFP provides the service provider with an overview of the client or project requirements. It should include details such as:
- The client’s company information - business structure, goals, growth plans, and any critical information, i.e. partnerships or shared data arrangements.
- The client’s physical location - along with general details about the site, it’s useful to know at this stage about the client’s internet service providers and backup IT/disaster recovery planning.
- Current technical environment - number and specifications of servers, computers, and devices, both on and offsite. Details of the operating system, security posture, and any cloud computing or bespoke solutions the client regularly uses.
- Known service requirements - why is the client reaching out for IT services?
- Compliance criteria - any regulatory personal data storage or security requirements specific to the client’s industry or operations
- Selection criteria/Terms & conditions - if the client is entertaining proposals from multiple vendors, how will the winning candidate be chosen? What other contractual information or key information can the client provide upfront to help the vendor understand if the relationship is a good fit?
For smaller clients (who may not have the knowledge or systems to provide the RFP unassisted), the Managed Service Provider may take some or all of the responsibility for this sales preparation, investigating and documenting these key points.
IT Services Proposal Template
Present your services with our compelling IT Services Proposal Template – demonstrate your ability to provide reliable and efficient client solutions.
What’s the ideal format for an IT services proposal?
Crafting the perfect IT services business proposal can be a grueling task. Although the services offered to each client will be broadly similar, your proposals need to include a lot of specific details.
It’s important to use structured service proposal templates wherever possible, to increase your productivity by minimizing the repetitive labor required to write it. Qwilr’s templates allow you to hone the perfect sales proposal and quickly edit and customize it to the individual client's needs.
Here we’ve listed the sections (in order) that your business proposal should include. This format will help you demonstrate to your client why your services are crucial to the success of their technology strategy and business goals.
The key word here is ‘summary’ - besides the chief technology officer/chief information officer (CTO/CIO), few of the C-suite are likely to read much beyond this section.
This means your executive summary has to be clear, succinct, and persuasive. Key details to provide in the executive summary include:
- The name of your company
- An overview of the services you’re looking to provide
- A summary of the client’s main issue or need
- A brief description of how you intend to solve it
- An explanation of your company’s experience and qualifications, along with any other strong selling points or a unique selling proposition that your competitors can’t or won’t provide
The client’s needs
In this section, you’ll demonstrate how clearly you understand the client's needs. When it comes to this section, you might outline the challenges your client told you they need to address as well as needs uncovered by your own assessment. For example, you might be aware of issues with their equipment and network that they don’t know about, but you need to address the situation as they see it. Talk primarily about the pain points they’ve raised in the RFP, but it's okay to bring up your observations here.
Don’t be afraid to get specific - you’re building the case for your company to intervene. Cite examples and provide statistics, graphs, and figures to support your points, if necessary. A data-driven approach will help build credibility and trust (although make sure you don’t sacrifice clear communication by providing too much evidence that may confuse the client).
The client’s priorities
You’ve shown them you understand where they’re currently at; now you’ll show them you know where they want to be.
Start by talking about the services you’re going to provide, including a brief explanation of why each service is a particular priority for the prospective client and how they’ll benefit from its implementation. Then, connect the dots, explaining how your services will support your clients' priorities and get them to where they want to be. For this section, consider using the Gap Selling Methodology to outline your key points.
Timeline and targets
Spelling out your goals and objectives in a specific time frame encourages the client to visualize a scenario where you’re successfully partnered, and their IT problems have been resolved. It’s also an excellent way to build trust through a clearly structured set of commitments rather than wild, unsubstantiated promises.
A graphic timeline or Gantt chart can be a useful addition here to clearly demonstrate the project phases, deliverables, and milestones.
This is also a good time to include caveats, if any of your objectives are based on assumptions or ‘known unknowns’. This way, you’ll ensure you’ve been completely transparent with the client. You'll build trust, demonstrate your commitment to continual service improvement, and remove sources of possible conflict in your future working relationship.
For established MSPs, this timeline section allows you to leverage your quarterly business reviews (QBR), too. Provide the client with a redacted version of an existing client’s QBR, and you can show how the timeline works in practice. QBRs are an underutilized source of valuable social proof - as Chief Customer Experience Officer Alex Farling from Lifecycle Insights explains;
“Bringing up your QBR process during the pre-sales cycle allows you to show the client what it is like to be engaged with your company.”
Explain your approach. If the project fits within your typical client offer's parameters, lean into your wealth of experience delivering this type of solution. If the project contains more exploratory elements and processes, explain why this is the case and the rationale you’ve developed for this new service design stage.
Provide the client with an overview of the tools you will use (this will also help justify your costs). You should also include project management processes or systems you’ll be using to ensure smooth delivery and communications throughout.
We’ve already touched on the services you’ll offer in the proposal when we discussed the client’s priorities. Now it’s time for a breakdown of your recommendations and how it applies to their specific IT environment.
Remember to keep this proposal consistent with the details you’ll include in your service level agreement. In the event of a dispute, the proposal can be used as legal proof, so it’s important not to overpromise.
This is also a good place to make the case for additional services. If there’s a strong reason why you think the client might benefit from an additional service that’s not currently on their radar (for example, asset lifecycle management), then you can get into it here. Alternatively, ‘nice-to-haves’ can be included later in the pricing section.
Achievements and social proof
Time to toot your own horn! This is where you’ll explain exactly why the client needs to choose you over the competition.
As always, make clarity, relevance, and readability your priorities here. Reviews and testimonials are useful if they describe situations similar to your client's. Alternatively, a simple table of features and benefits might be a better format for proving your worth.
Meet the team
When introducing your team members, emphasize the individuals your client will enjoy the most contact with. Show them the faces and resumes of the people who will deliver the services they’ll rely on. This way, you can start building that customer relationship with good first impressions immediately.
The pricing section of an IT services proposal should be constructed using the same principles that apply to any sales proposal. A tiered pricing structure is always useful to allow the client to work as closely as possible within their budget.
The choice of tiered pricing strategy for IT service providers is often dictated by the duration of the contract. For one-off projects (for example a cloud migration or a network upgrade) then a feature-based pricing strategy will allow you to build price tier options ranging from the basic plan or ‘bare bones’ package, through to a ‘premium’ experience, with all additional extras included.
Alternatively, for ongoing managed services contracts, you might prefer to use a subscription-based pricing strategy, where the monthly cost of the service decreases according to the length of the contract the client commits to.
This is an obvious inclusion, but it would be remiss of us not to mention that your proposal needs to set up clear and flexible communication channels. It’s also a good idea to provide contact details for different team members here in case the client has specific questions to raise with individual departments.
If you’re using proposal creation software such as Qwilr, you can also include e-signature fields and terms and conditions in this last section, allowing you to close the deal right there in the proposal.
A good example of an IT services proposal template
Qwilr’s IT services proposal template already contains all the sections listed above, providing you with a well-structured, organized starting point for your proposal.
You can immediately create your proposal following the professional proposal format we’ve outlined here:
- Executive summary
- Understanding your needs
- Your priorities
- 12-month goals
- Our approach
- Service overview
- Our achievements
- Our team
- Investment required
- Contact us
Qwilr proposals are professionally designed and mobile-friendly. They can be instantly adapted and customized with your content. You can import your branding elements and seamlessly incorporate interactive elements such as embedded videos, image galleries, and interactive pricing tables for added impact.
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The structure we’ve provided here should allow any MSP to create a clear and compelling case for their services by maintaining a strong and consistent focus on the needs of their client.
As the technology that underpins our lives and economies continues to evolve at an exponential rate, it’s never been more important (or lucrative) for technologists to bridge the gap. Successful MSPs know this, investing huge amounts of time, effort, and money in effectively communicating the enormous benefits that a progressive IT strategy can bring.
In such a volatile industry, an effective sales proposal could make a massive difference in sealing the deal as an IT Service Provider. Automating the creation process with an intuitive, powerful, flexible tool such as Qwilr is an obvious choice.
About the author
Dan Lever|Brand Consultant and Copywriter
Dan Lever is an experienced brand consultant and copywriter. He brings over 7 years experience in marketing and sales development, across a range of industries including B2B SaaS, third sector and higher education.
Frequently asked questions
A clear and persuasive IT services proposal should open with an executive summary that allows busy CEOs or other non-technical leaders to absorb the key points of the proposal. The following sections can then describe the client’s problem in detail, prescribe a solution and plan of action, and then offer a range of pricing options to match the client’s budget.
A request for proposal (RFP) is a business document used by companies who are looking for contractors to provide a service. The RFP should contain everything the vendors bidding for the contract need to put together their sales proposal and the selection criteria and conditions the company will use to make their choice.
A company sending a request for proposal (RFP) to prospective vendors will often include an approximate budget or budget range. This can allow vendors to tailor their offers more specifically or help them avoid wasting time creating proposals for projects that don’t match their budget expectations.