Aaron Beashel • Jan 24, 2019
Signing with speed—how to design your proposals for faster acceptance rates
Sometimes, the most surprising thing about working at an agency is how much time you spend trying to win work instead of actually doing work. If you’ve found yourself in this situation, don’t worry: you’re not alone. We’ve spoken to a range of customers who’ve told us their biggest challenge at work is reacting faster to sales opportunities along with increasing their acceptance rate—both of which rely heavily on the proposal that’s shared with a client. We noticed sales managers and BDRs spending tedious hours reformatting proposals, updating quotes and estimates, and sometimes starting these documents from scratch, lengthening the…
Sometimes, the most surprising thing about working at an agency is how much time you spend trying to win work instead of actually doing work.
If you’ve found yourself in this situation, don’t worry: you’re not alone. We’ve spoken to a range of customers who’ve told us their biggest challenge at work is reacting faster to sales opportunities along with increasing their acceptance rate—both of which rely heavily on the proposal that’s shared with a client. We noticed sales managers and BDRs spending tedious hours reformatting proposals, updating quotes and estimates, and sometimes starting these documents from scratch, lengthening the time between getting their proposal into their clients hands.
While this might be going against the grain, there are no hacks or gimmicks we can suggest—optimizing your process and increasing your acceptance rate comes down to clear planning and understanding your client’s needs.
Focus on your proposal design
First impressions count—and your proposals are one of the earliest pieces of collateral shared with a client. While it might seem counter-intuitive to spend more time on the design of your proposal when you’re trying to save time, it’s one of the main drivers of seeing success out of your pitch process.
Before the client has even had a chance to read your ideas, the appearance of your proposal has already made an impression on them. Good design isn’t just about an aesthetically pleasing document, but one that communicates information in a clear, digestible narrative. It’s a direct reflection of your business—if it looks messy and unfocused, so does your work.
Investing some upfront time in creating a good proposal means you’ll also be able to recycle both your design and content for future prospects—and even consider sales automation tactics to really speed things along.
Plan your sections
Break up your sections into blocks and plan out the order of your document. Don’t forget, your clients are humans too—and there some psychological biases you can apply to your proposal’s structure, like placing social proofing just before your quote and adding a clear and direct call-to-action at the end of your document.
Most importantly, this planning helps you repurpose content for future proposals and accelerate your sales cycle. Using Qwilr, you’re able to create a library of “content blocks” to reuse across any document. Rather than hunting down that perfect testimonial every time, you can quickly add it from your library. And if your pricing or services change over time, you can quickly update your saved blocks and they’ll be updated across all your documents.
Take a second to put yourself in your client’s shoes: would you really want to read a 20-page document about a month-long social media campaign?
While it’s tempting to fill the pages of your proposal with all your insights and ideas, this often works against you. Keep your proposals short and sweet. You want clients to be inspired by what you’ve shown them, not feel like you’ve given them extra homework to do.
Keep your copy clear and concise as possible. Open with an overview of the project objective, followed by the actions you’re going to take, and why your plan will work. Stick to no-frills English and make your point succinctly.
Show them what they’re getting
Include specific case studies and testimonials to give your clients proof on the results you’re promising. Using storytelling in your case studies will speak to the heart of their needs, build trust, and expedite the acceptance process.
If you’re pitching for a social media brief, you might want to include some examples of social videos that you’ve previously produced. Or include video testimonials of clients you’ve worked with in the past.
While this cause some compression and size problems for your proposal (especially if it’s saved as a PDF), creating one as a web page counters all these issues because you’re simply sharing a link. Bonus points: your proposal will be beautifully responsive across all desktop sizes and mobiles.
Include a clear call-to-action
One of the main reasons people don’t win business is because they don’t ask for it.
Make sure you include a clear call-to-action at the end of your proposal. Whether that’s nominating their preferred solution or calling your account manager to book in a kick-off meeting, tell them what they need to do to keep the ball rolling.
With a Qwilr page, you can add an “accept” button into your proposal templates and pair it with an engaging call-to-action. This is a convenient way for clients to accept your proposal, sign, and pay in one smooth flow, so they don’t have to do any hard work and you get the confirmation you need to start work.
Options, options, options
Pair your accept flow with payment optionally to cater to clients who might not be clear about their payment structure—or make yours explicitly clear. You can include your deposit request and timeline, along with separate sections for each line item and chunk of work.
Take on a hack-free, no gimmicks approach to creating proposals with speed for the purpose of faster increasing rates.
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