How long does it take to get a response to your proposals? 1 day, 1 week? Maybe longer? If you proposals aren’t very easy to accept you could be losing business.
Proposing your product or services isn’t easy. How much text is too much text? Should you add more images? How about the system you use to send the proposal, which is the best for your industry? There are many elements to think about and you of course want to make the best first impression you can.
One this is for sure though, if your proposal is difficult to accept, you’re reducing the likelihood your prospect will sign on the dotted line.
Don’t forget, they’re probably assessing you against your competitors – there can only be one winner – and you need to make it easy for them to accept.
In this post we’ll dive into what makes your proposal LESS likely to be accepted, and what makes it MORE likely to be accepted, AND we’ll provide some tips on how you can make your proposals easier to accept straight away!
What makes your proposals LESS likely to be accepted?
Arguably the most important part of your sales process will be proposing your solution to your prospect. Your solution needs to clearly articulate what you can do to make their problem go away – and when they’re ready to say yes it should be as simple as a click of a button.
So where do businesses go wrong with their proposals? Some key things to keep a look out for are detailed below:
- Not able to sign electronically – This isn’t just at the top of this list for no reason. If you’re not giving your clients the ability to sign electronically you are more than 10 years behind your competition. Electronic signing (or e-Signature) is the standard for businesses nowadays and certainly in the unpredictable world we currently live in, where more and more staff are working remotely, e-Signatures are critical.
- Too much text & poor readability- Having too much text in your proposals can make it difficult to read, and ultimately might leave a client confused about your products and services. Providing the information your prospect wants to know and that you need to convey is important, however you should be taking note of how the pages feel, whether they’re top to bottom full of text, and whether there is enough white space. Breaking up text with images and white space is important in ensuring readability.
- Poor Structure – The structure of your proposal should follow standards that client’s expect. If you start your proposal with the invoicing section you’re already off to a bad start – client’s expect that you’ll provide a simple introduction first. Similarly, missing sections like next steps, or about your company, will leave your client missing critical information to inform their decision.
- Payment option unclear – Business people are busy. If it is unclear as to next steps to pay you, they might be less inclined to follow through will your proposal, or they’ll stall. This could be due to lack of a payment gateway if you’re using proposal software.
- No followup (automated or manual) – If you don’t follow up, whether manually or automatically, you’re cutting your chances of winning the deal. Your prospect is probably in touch with other providers, if you sell a service expect that your client will see a minimum of 3 quotes. If you send your proposal without scheduling tasks to follow-up you’re setting yourself up to fail.
- Lack of explanation (not taking your client through the proposal) – This is so very important for larger jobs or in industries such as consulting. It is not enough to just send over the proposal and wait for a reply, you should take your client through it so they can ask immediate questions and provide feedback.
The above are some of the core things to keep in mind if you’re worried about your proposals not converting as well as they should be.
With so many automated processes, software packages, and more competition, you need to bring you A-game with regards to your proposals. So what can you do to make it easy for prospects to accept your proposals?
What makes your proposals MORE likely to be accepted?
There are many elements that go into creating an effective proposal, however it can sometimes be difficult to know what to prioritise. Making your proposal more likely to be accepted involves looking at your proposal through the eyes of your prospect. If you find the process to sign and/or pay for your services takes too long, or there is friction that could be possibly be avoided, these are areas you should focus on first in improving your proposal workflow.
Nevertheless, there are some universal things that you can do to make it super easy for your client to sign:
Use proposal software to repeatedly send out proposals with ease
The only reason you should be using Word with regards to proposals is as your master template in conjunction with a document automation platform like Formstack Documents. The best option for many businesses is going to be Proposal software. By creating a document template and integrating your proposal software with your CRM, you are setting up a system that will save you $$$ every single time you create a proposal.
You can read more about why Word isn’t the best anymore and Best Proposal Software to Win New Business in 2020 in our other blog posts.
Use e-Signature software to reduce friction
If you’re requiring your prospects to print out and send back a proposal, you’re making things harder than they need to be. Which is better:
1. Send out proposal via Proposal Software > Client see’s proposal on Desktop or Phone > Client automatically signs proposal > Proposal is sent back to both parties with signatures attached
2. Send out proposal as a PDF from a Word template > Client views and either prints or has to load within something like Adobe Acrobat > Client adds signature either physically and scans back to send to you, Or via PDF > Sends back to you via email to sign
Note: In the above with a PDF there is no audit trail, no IP address tracking, no tracking when the proposal has been signed, and no automation.
You could use DocuSign or another platform purely for the e-Signature side of things, however you miss out on templates, proposal duplication, tracking, and many other features that are provided by Proposal Software platforms.
Clean up your proposal structure & reduce text
Making sure your proposal is clean and simple is a standard nowadays. Client’s are busy, they don’t need to be reading walls of text or struggling to find the information they need.
By adopting a more standardised structure for your proposal based on your industry, you ensure that your proposal can be easily navigated and that it is therefore easier for the client to access what they need.
Proposal Software platforms have templates that you can use for free or you can get in touch with a consultant like Pure Proposals to help migrate your existing proposals, modernise them, or completely redesign them to suit your business needs.
Utilise online payment platforms and accept alternate payment methods
Many proposals have bank details detailed within the invoice section and no way of easily paying. Either this, or the typical process is to send an invoice out after the proposal has been signed, again with bank details attached, and no payment gateway integrated.
You’re causing extra friction for your client doing things this way, without integrating a payment gateway or setting up Direct Debit, your client needs to do additional work so you can get paid.
All good Proposal Software platforms have payment gateway integrations that enable on the spot payment for services. This is a big win for both you and the client. You’re reducing friction in that they can pay immediately without worrying about waiting for invoices etc, and you’re getting paid straight away!
Set up automated follow-ups
If you’re sending out proposals manually via email, how are you following up with the client? If your sales team needs to log tasks and manually follow up with the client, how much time and money is this costing your business?
There’s a better way. Proposal software like PandaDoc, Proposify, or Better Proposals make simple work for automated notifications. You can set reminders for the client to sign the proposal and/or provide feedback. You’ll also be notified when the prospect views the proposal, this will give your sales team an edge in beating the competition.
There you, those are some ways you can make accepting your proposal super easy!
Having the right systems and processes in place for your proposals isn’t just a nice to have anymore, its an absolute must. With competition increasing every day, the provider who is infront of the client showing them they are attentive and professional has a much higher chance of winning the deal.
One final tip is that once you’ve developed your proposal, system, and workflow, you can send it over ‘friendly’ clients or contacts. They can help you determine whether the process is simple and give you insight into areas you could improve.
If you’re hesitant to send your test on your clients or friends, feel free to get in touch with us and we’ll happily review your process.
That’s all for now, until next time.
Want to make more sales?
Pure Proposals can help optimise your proposals and ensure you’re putting your best foot forward. Get in touch for a free consultation today.