Why a proposal template is also a product

Agree or disagree? A proposal is where you list your products/services, targeting your offer to your prospect in an attempt to close business—nothing more.

We disagree! Your proposals and the templates that contain them are, in fact, one of your products. Because before you can sell anyone on any product, you have to first sell them on YOU and how and why you’re a fit for their business. That’s exactly where your templates come into play.

There are more than a few articles online about best practices for custom proposals and proposal strategies and the like, but we’re going deeper here, exploring the philosophy that fuels the practices.

Proposal best practices 1

Establish a contemporary connection in your proposal

In spite of what everyone may tell you, the decision to buy—whether it’s a CRM system, a car, or a pony—is a right-brain decision. Yes, your left-brain plays a big part, running the numbers, cost/benefit analysis, ROI calculations, and so on. But when it’s time to buy? To sign the contract? It’s the right brain that kicks in and makes someone say, “Yes, I want this.”

Since every purchasing decision has an emotional driver, be sure and roll some feeling into each proposal template you build. Don’t get carried away—we’re not talking about imagery of sunsets. The feelings you want your quotes to convey are things like confidence, trust, reliability, partnership. A well-chosen image can help, but a clean, contemporary look and feel in your template does even more.

I.e., ensure your proposal says, “We’re the right business partner for today’s business climate” instead of saying, “We have an old copy of Microsoft Word, and we also bought some clip art in 1997.”

@@Do your proposals say, “We’re a reliable business partner” or “We have an old copy of Microsoft Word?”@@

Proposal best practices 2

Go big… every once in a while

Most sales people aren’t designers. And you don’t want them to be! Imagine if you gave a rep a list of 40 qualified leads to follow-up on, a day goes by, you check in, “How about those leads, Tom? Get any proposals out?” And Tom says, “No, not yet… but look at the color palette I selected for this quote. Do you think it holistically supports the typeface?” Urg.

Our advice for killer proposal templates is to hire an expert. Spend a little on a professional designer to make some template designs for you, targeting the industries you target. And before you say, “Why would I hire someone to do something I can do myself [using Word 2003]?” tap that left brain of yours and do a cost/benefit analysis.

The truth is you can find good designers for great rates pretty easily. There are dozens of websites out there filled with freelancers looking for project work—no need for a FTE. Wait: that’s not the best part. The BEST PART is that you can—for a few hundred bucks—get a handful of proposal templates that you can use for years. So go big from time to time.

Treat your proposal templates like one of your prize products—and trust the design to an expert—and you’ll have quotes that better connect with your prospects and better reflect your business.

If you'd like to learn more about this topic or see IQX for yourself with a free demo, contact us.