Proposal Kit

Thursday, January 31, 2013

How to Write a Services Sales Proposal

If you're in the business of selling services, the odds are that you are perpetually seeking new clients. Decades ago, you might be able to get by with a phone book listing, maybe a newspaper ad, and word-of-mouth recommendations. Those days are long gone. These days, the competition is fierce. This means that you need to know how to write a proposal to pitch your services to new clients.

Not a writer? Never written a proposal before? Don't panic. Creating a business proposal might seem like a formidable task, but it doesn't have to be. Plenty of resources are available that will show you how to introduce yourself, highlight your services, outline your costs, and help your clients understand you are the right person for the job. Here's the key: you don't have to start from scratch, staring a blank page on your computer. Using pre-designed templates and reviewing similar sample proposals can help you write your own winning proposal quickly and efficiently.

New proposal writers sometimes make the mistake of sending out only a cover letter along with a list of services and associated prices. Don't do that. A price list can never substitute for a real proposal. A proposal is a document intended to persuade potential clients to give you their business. To be successful, you must gain the clients' trust and make them understand that you can deliver the services they need.

As a general rule to prepare for writing any kind of proposal, your first step should be to gather enough information about the client to present a proposal that is tailored to that client's specific needs. Yes, it might take a bit of work, but that work is much more likely to pay off. It's never a good idea to send every potential client an identical sales letter. A client is much more likely to accept a tailored proposal.

After you've collected information on your potential client, writing the proposal is a reasonably straightforward process. That's because proposals that offer services, regardless of the type of services, follow a similar structure: first comes the introduction, then a summary of the client's needs, followed by descriptions of the services offered, as well as details and costs. Then the proposal should conclude with information about the service provider, such as relevant experience, credentials, and capabilities.

So, for the introduction section, start out with a Cover Letter and a Title Page. The Cover Letter should be brief: simply deliver a personal introduction and provide your company contact information. The Title Page is just what it sounds like: it should introduce your tailored proposal and give a clear message about the project or scope of services you are pitching. Some examples might be "Proposal to Provide Window Cleaning Services for The Beaker Building", "Proposed Payroll Services for Morgan Corporation", or "Landscape Care Plan for North Community College Campus". Don't forget to add a call to action and ask for the clients business or schedule a meeting.

After the Cover Letter and the Title Page, add topic pages to show that you understand the needs of your client. Depending on how large the proposed scope of work is, you may or may not need to precede the detailed pages with a brief summary. For a complex project or variable scope of work that needs a summary, this summary section (often just a page or two) is normally called an Executive Summary for corporate clients, or a Client Summary for a less formal project. In the pages of this client-centered section, describe the needs of the specific prospective client and demonstrate your understanding of that client's requirements, goals, and desires. Be sure to mention any restrictions or limitations you are aware of. This is not yet the place where you talk about yourself. This section is all about the client.

After the client-centered section comes your turn to shine. The next section should be all about how you can satisfy the client's needs and desires. You'll add pages about your services and costs, with titles like Services Provided, Benefits, and Services Cost Summary. Include all the topics you need to describe exactly what you propose to provide and how much your services will cost. Finally, you need to persuade your client that you are the best choice for the job, so add pages like About Us / Company History, Capabilities, Our Clients, References, Credentials, Awards, and Testimonials; in other words, include everything you need to convince your client that you can be trusted to deliver the services needed.

After you have all the information written for your proposal, it's time to focus on making your proposal visually appealing. Add some color and graphics by incorporating your company logo. Consider using colored borders and selecting custom bullet points and fonts that match your business style.

Once you feel your proposal is complete, carefully proofread and spell-check all the pages. You should have someone who is unfamiliar with your proposal proof it as well, because it's very common to miss mistakes in your own work.

Finally, save your proposal as a PDF file or print it and then deliver it to your potential client. The best delivery method will depend on your business and your relationship with your potential client. Emailing PDF files to clients is very common; however, there are times when a nicely printed, signed and hand-delivered proposal will be more impressive, because it shows you value that potential client enough to put in some extra personal effort.

As you can see, a services sales proposal can mean something different to everyone who needs to write one, and everyone’s needs for what to include will vary, depending on organizations, projects, and the scope of services involved.

Proposal Pack
The good news is that all services sales proposals follow a similar format and structure, and you can find all the templates (and contracts) you need in Proposal Kit. The templates contain explanations of what those particular pages should contain, and they will guide you in writing and formatting appropriate information for your proposal sections. Proposal Kit also contains a wide variety of sample services proposals that will give you great ideas and help you get a jump start on writing your own winning proposal.

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