How to Convert 80% of Your Proposals

This is a guest post by Jason Swenk.

Converting proposals is key to surviving and growing your marketing agency.  Since most of the time agencies are under insane deadlines, most people don’t put much attention into conversion until it’s too late. The fact is, every agency loses an average of 25-percent existing business each year. This is not their fault but this is the average churn rate over the last 30 years.

This only makes it more important that you convert as many proposals as you can. You worked so hard getting the client to contact you and invite you to do a pitch, why would you ease up now?

The cover letter is 35 percent of your work

One of the most important parts of a proposal is the cover letter. Do you know that over 35 percent of proposals are not read past the first page? I treat the cover letter as a landing page where I had to get their attention to read further. It’s where you have to convince the reader to keep reading.

In the cover letter you need to do the following:

  • Explain that you understand their problem and you have proposed a solution.

  • Quickly explain what you are about and why you do it.

  • Ask them for feedback and encourage them to ask questions.

  • Make sure the cover letter is brief, under a page.

Next up is the Executive Summary

After the cover letter, I immediately dive into more details and go through the executive summary:

  • What is the primary focus of this proposal?

  • Explain to them that you have researched and engaged in meetings to discuss their goals and requirements.

  • Tell them about your experience, building confidence in being able to deliver.

  • Define the estimated time it will take for the project.

You’re building them up and getting them to believe you are right for them.

Show how you will deliver

After the executive summary, I dive into the deliverables. You will want to categorize services into sections, depending on your business. For a marketing/web design proposal, my categories are creative services, marketing, and technology.

  • Be very descriptive in each (especially important if you are talking about something like web design).

  • Tell them about your methodology so they understand the process.

  • Add images where possible so not text heavy, but do not get carried away.

  • List out all the deliverables, i.e. How many versions or pages they will get, etc.

  • List out services that they may have not asked for but that could be a good compliment. Label that session: Optional services.

Next, I would summarize all the deliverables and services. Make sure to list all the services in almost a ledger style with the name and price. I would also recommend to categorize this into sections as well as one time fees and recurring fees like hosting and SEM. This method makes it easy for the client to understand.

After you tell the client the services you are going to do, you can know starting talking about your company and why you exist, awards and the people that will be involved on the project.  You are trying to let them get a good understanding of your company and culture, because people do business with people that like and get along with.

Close that new business

Last is the contract section. Most people separate the proposal and the contract but I always want to have everything together to make it easier for the client-easier for them to execute the proposal.

If you want to learn even more ways to increase your proposal conversions, check out Jason’s free video on how his company converted 80 percent of his proposals. You will see how how Solar Velocity achieved such a high proposal close rate, and get to look at the exact proposal that they used to close businesses like AT&T, AFLAC and Hitachi below. Check it out.