If you want high-ticket clients, proposals make or break your business. Learn how to write a winner.
Most of the time, people don’t believe me when I tell them that it’s 100% possible to close 80% (or more) of the deals you write proposals for.
Problem is, most people have no idea how to write a winning proposal. This is my zero bullshit guide on writing proposals that win business.
I’ve used this technique to move clients from 10–20% win rates to over 80%. And obviously, I use this for my own business, which I’ve grown from zero to six figures in less than 2 years.
1. Write the words that matter most, write results
When you’re selling consulting services, you’re selling results. Your clients care about 1. how much money you can make for them or 2. how much money you can save them. That’s it.
People argue this with me all the time. They say, but Kayla, what if my coaching service is about building confidence and self-esteem in executives—
To which I reply:
I bet you sell a lot more self-esteem when you correlate it with higher revenue for those exec’s companies.
As much as it may pain some, all business transactions boil down to dollars made or dollars saved. If you’re a consultant, you’re a business selling things to other businesses (business to business or B2B for short).
So, no matter what you sell—at the end of the B2B day, we’re all selling money.
Here’s what winning proposals say
- How much money your services will make (or save) the client
2. The objectives/tactics you’ll use to get that dollar amount
3. How little your price is in comparison to what you’ll earn (or save) the client
The above are the sections in your new proposal, like this:
- Goals (dollars you’re going to make/save the client)
- Objectives and Tactics (the actions you take to deliver that dollar amount—bonus if this section includes intellectual property of yours)
- Price (how your price compares to the returns of your work = ROI)
2. Always agree on price before you send the proposal
I gave a workshop at New York Public Library a few months back. I told the room: agree on price before you send the proposal.
One person cried to me afterward: I know this sounds crazy, but that’s such simple advice, and I feel like an idiot for not doing something so simple.
I empathized deeply because I’d been there. I felt like an idiot when I realized that what was killing my deals was that my prospects were seeing numbers they simply weren’t prepared to see.
Never send a proposal without first agreeing on price, unless you’re on a mission to get ghosted.
Agree to price in person or via Skype if you can. Phone is second best. Never try to agree on price in an email. Do it with your voice so that if they object to price, you can negotiate right then and there. You don’t want to risk an email, or proposal, being ghosted.
Step 3. Know the data and be all about the data
You can only help people if you’re tracking metrics and data. Don’t write blind proposals. Either have the prospect share reports and data with you via phone or email, or if you can, have a look at their analytics/data yourself.
For example, if you’re a web development consultant, you need to see web traffic details, SEO performance, cart click-through rates, and more.
A question I’m often asked: But what do you do if your client says, “we don’t have any data.”
Answer: Even better. Your proposal then becomes all about helping them collect and harness data to make better decisions/more money.
A question I’m often asked: But what if you sell something that isn’t typically tracked and you’re not even sure that it’s possible to track with data?
Answer. Be innovative and create your own way (intellectual property) to track data. For example, if you’re an executive coach focused on self-esteem, come up with a confidence tracker or mood scorecard, some way to track TANGIBLE results. Then, correlate those results with money.
Step 4. Sell results, not objectives
Let’s say you provide web development services to ecommerce businesses. You need to calculate a dollar amount that your services are worth.
What special abilities do you have (i.e. SEO skills, a/b testing, personalization) that will drive traffic to that website? How much money is that extra traffic worth?
Let’s say you’re going to drive 20k more hits per month with a new site you’re proposing. You’ve had a look at the prospect’s analytics data and you know they currently convert 1% of visitors to buyers. But, you’re confident you can improve that to 10%. You also know that their average purchase is $100.
So, you’re giving this client: 10% x 20k x $100 = $200k per month.
Your proposal should break those numbers down—just like they are above, spell it out. Then, you need to back those results up with case studies, testimonials, and references from happy clients.
Note* Professional consultants charge a percentage of what they make (or save) a client. 10% is a good starting point. So, for the above project, if you’re making your client around $2mil per year, charge $200k.
Go write winners
I hate writing conclusions almost as much as I hate writing intros—because I’m all about zero bullshit—traditional conclusions and intros, like we’re taught to write in high-school, are bullshit. Go out there and write proposals that win business. Edit out the bs, and write what matters.