Proposal format follows function—the secrets to good design.

We know: we spend a lot of time around here talking about how important your design is when you're trying to make effective sales proposals. So you're probably wondering why we haven't just told you the magic formula for good design. It's not because we're mean—we're not holding out on you. We haven't shared the formula because there's no such thing.

Why? @@Because what makes for good design changes with the circumstance of the job.@@ The hammer is a wonderfully designed tool—if you're trying to frame a house. But maybe its design is less wonderful when you're trying to whip up a souffle. (If you're not sure, try hammering up some eggs and report back.)

And though it may seem as if every proposal you send out has the same function—sales!—your prospects change, along with their needs. Your proposal content—and therefore your proposal formats—should change to reflect that. But here are some tips to keep in mind to make sure each proposal you send out is effective as possible, regardless of your content.

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1: Don't let them fool you—size matters bigly

Have you ever seen those old paintings where the king is two or even three times the size of his subjects that he's standing near? It's not that the artists were sloppy or that in the old days rulers were literally looming over their subjects like trees. Instead, the size difference is good design: by making the king so big, the artist is telling you the king is big time important. You don't have to know a thing about proper design to recognize that—an effective sales proposal format should read the same way.

@@When creating your proposal format, think about what the visual side of your proposal says@@. The earlier in your proposal you say something, the more important you're implying that it is—this is why we always recommend starting with an articulation of the client's problem that you're going to help solve, since what's more important to your prospect than their own problem?

But also keep in mind that the more space you devote to a part of your proposal, the more important that content will appear to the prospect (this is why small print is, well, small). So use big pretty graphics as often as you can, drawing your prospect's attention right where you want it. Fortunately, quality online proposal software (like IQX) makes it easy to put the right compelling visual front and center. And that may be as close as you're going to get to that magic formula for an effective sales proposal.

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2: Good design doesn't just sell a product—it sells you

If the first part was all about the showing your prospect the right content, this is about showing them the right version of you. @@How your proposal looks will shape how your prospect sees you@@—after all the proposal is the main thing they have to go by.

Besides saying how great your product is, you want your proposal format to say, "I thought about how this looks." You don't have to be the next Frank Lloyd Wright to communicate to your prospect that you think design is important—and simply showing that you care can make all the difference. Not having a thoughtful design is the equivalent of being the guy who shows up to a wedding in a t-shirt.

Fortunately, with minimal effort you can also have great design. IQX's CPQ software offers several custom, easily customizable proposal formats that you can make your own. Just by choosing the right format, you're well on your way to winning over that prospect.

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