5 Key Features Of A Successful Proposal

by Lauren Schneidewind on December 29, 2015

Wahoo, we have made it past the initial meet and greet. We have made it past the first meeting because we were properly prepared. Now it is time to blow our prospective clients away with a proposal they simply cannot refuse. This might seem like the time to relax and talk about how good we are and send over this great pre-made proposal because the deal is in the bag…Wrong. This next step is crucial since this might be the first written impression the future client is receiving. This means we need to continue being on our A-game (which is where we always need to be anyway). There are five key features of a proposal that when executed well, tend to have the most favorable outcome…the client signing the deal!


We all like to know what is going on or at least have an accurate account of what is happening with our business. Well, so do our clients. Thinking back on experiences of mine where I have run into issues, it all tends to skate around knowing what is going on or being surprised, like when you get an unexpected bill. When I was booking a vacation to Palau, I was talking to a company about diving and I got a quote. I spoke with them several times about how much things were going to cost, we agreed on the price and I sent in a payment to reserve my spot. All was good with the diving, but then at the end of the trip I get another bill. This took me off guard a bit because I was told I paid in full, then all of a sudden I see a bill for $600 + the staff asked on several occasions for a customary tip, which we were told needed to be between $300-$400 per person!!! What just happened? I was just nickeled and dimed for over $1000, what is going on? Now all of a sudden my great memories of the trip are a bit blurred because of the non-transparency of the diving costs. As a fellow dive instructor and someone that worked in the industry for a while, I was even taken back by these billing practices.

No one wants to feel the way I felt; being taken advantage of and get a crazy bill at the end or one that is nowhere near what was discussed. The moral of this story is to be upfront with the clients about timing, costs, expectations, etc…


Following next to transparency is consistency. It is important to know what is going on and it is equally as important to be consistent regarding all aspects of the clients’ experience. Recently we were hiring out some work for LD Studios and interviewing several companies. I was taken back by one proposal in particular because of the price discrepancies between our initial meetings and what I was quoted in the proposal. Long story short, every single line item was more than triple what I was quoted. The details did not change, just their pricing. Needless to say the proposed work stopped dead in the water. The lesson here is to be consistent. At LD Studios, if someone quotes a price, we will honor it. We try very hard to maintain our pricing, which is very straight forward, but I can think of one instance when the wrong price was verbally quoted. Rather than going back on our word, we honored our quoted (goof) price. Then we made sure to have an internal chat to not run into the same issue again.

Follow-Through: Do What You Say

So far the new client has heard a great deal of talking between all of the parties, but it’s time to start putting all of that talk in to action. It is easy to follow through at the beginning of any time of relationship; the challenge is keeping that momentum going. This is a major differentiating factor between companies that are good and companies that are great. Let’s be great at what we do and follow through on every single thing we say we are going to do. However, tread lightly as you do not want to promise too much and then under-deliver.

Let Me (The Client) Be Lazy

We are great at what we do, so let us excel and show our client all the ways they can utilize us. We want our client to depend on us because we are the best at what we do. Over time, a method to maintain a strong relationship with our clients is by continuing to adapt our services to address our client's needs. An issue that I seem to constantly run into is removing items from my plate. This is not due to my inability to delegate, it is simply due to the fact I don’t have anyone available and capable of doing it. Recently we outsourced our social media to Social Joey. They are experts in their field, where I am not. I am thankful I no longer have to spend the time and figure out what to post and when and on which social media site. This is great that I was able to take something off of my plate. I love when I can trust someone to do something for me, because it gives me time to do other things that always seem to pile up. This is true for our clients too; we are all busy, so having someone there to take things off of our plate is crucial for running our successful businesses.

Talk About Me (The Client)

All of the work up to this point and all of the meetings thus far have been about the Client; what we can do for them, and how we can help them get to the next level. I am not sure what happens during the proposal stage that somehow switches the focus off of the client, but for some reason the focus tends to change to us instead. We become gung-ho about what we can offer to the client, and get fixated on talking about why we are the best at what we do. The proposal is supposed to be about the client, not us. The proposal needs to focus on the client and what we can do for the client. It is not the place to show us off, it is the place to show off what we can do for the client. See the difference? Going back to my outsourcing dilemma and receiving multiple proposals, I was a bit taken back (again) because they were all about themselves and not me. What is wrong here? I am trying to hire someone to help me out, why are all of these proposals all so focused on how awesome they are and nothing about me being awesome? Something has to give. We need to redirect the focus and make sure the proposal highlights how we can assist in making the client better with us rather than without us.

By sitting back and taking the time to make it all about the client, and not redirect focus to ourselves, we end up in a better position that ends up better serving us in the long run.

What do you think a good proposal looks like? Dislike what I have to say? Let’s start a conversion


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