There’s a crucial hurdle standing between you and your next paycheck: the client proposal. To help you impress your potential clients, I’ve compiled 10 quick tips for improving your next client proposal. These easy and actionable ideas will help sell the benefits of your business, and encourage would-be customers to sign on the dotted line.
10. Be explicit about the scope of your work
Unexpected surprises: great for birthday parties, terrible for client-agency relations. Your proposal needs to outline every single facet of your intended working relationship. You need to be explicit about everything, to both inform your client and protect your agency. 10-months down the line, you don’t want your client to suddenly change the terms of your service, and demand extra work. A clear proposal will prevent that from happening. Remember to tackle:
- Repeat deliverables
- Discretionary deliverables
- Payment terms
- Your responsibilities
- The client’s responsibilities
- Areas that you aren’t responsible for
9. Use proposal templates for a consistent and professional image
If you’re sending a lot of proposals, design or buy a template. Streamlining the proposal process in this way will allow you to create consistently killer pitches, time and time again; and they’ll ensure that your tone of voice, brand image and design are congruent across all of your proposals.
8. Write a hard-selling opening paragraph
The bigger the client, the more proposals, pitches and rivals your business has to compete with. In order to get your foot in the door, it’s essential that your proposal hooks their interest from paragraph one. Treat the introduction to your proposal as an elevator pitch – explaining the incredible benefits of your service in as few words as possible.
7. Don’t shy away from showing your personality
Super-formal proposals aren’t always necessary, especially if you’re pitching to a new startup or a disruptive tech company. If you think your client will respond well to a bit of humour, include a handful of relevant jokes; and as long as your proposal still includes all of the important information, you may end up endearing yourself to the client. After all, clients buy from people they like.
6. Explain the benefits of your services, not its features
What’s more appealing?
A. Software with that utilises automation to identify and secure high-PR backlinks.
B. Software that streamlines the entire outreach process; securing search-boosting backlinks in half the time of conventional outreach.
Example A. promotes the features of your new software; example B. promotes the benefits of those features. It promises desirable outcomes, instead of just rattling off a list of features – and who wouldn’t want to improve their search ranking and free-up their time?
5. Stand-out from the crowd with media-rich proposals
As an SEO expert you are, by definition, pretty damn savvy with all things web-related. Chances are that you know tons about web design, programming and digital marketing – all skills which are beneficial to your potential client. If you want your proposal to really stand-out from the crowd, then why not apply these skills?
Create a digital proposal, and include a handful of appropriate graphics, photos and videos. Heck, if you think it’ll be cost-effective, create a microsite just for your proposal. As long as it’s relevant to your audience, anything goes – and it’s this kind of pro-active expertise that will highlight your skills and sell your client.
4. Illustrate your industry knowledge
As long as you explain each piece of terminology at least once, don’t be afraid of using relevant acronyms (like SEO, SERP, PR and DA) in your proposal. Relevant language illustrates your understanding of your client’s industry, and the client itself – but remember to avoid using dozens of vague industry buzzwords.
3. Close with a clear call-to-action
If you want your potential client to follow a particular course of action, post-proposal, use a call-to-action (CTA) to highlight the next steps they need to take. If you’d like to meet-up and talk through the proposal in person, suggest an appropriate date for a meeting; and if you’d like to get stuck-in to the work, ask for approval to send the client invoice.
2. Proof, proof and then proof again
Nothing kills a proposal quicker than typos and poor grammar. If you aren’t willing to spend a few minutes checking and re-checking your proposal, your client can be forgiven for thinking that your SEO services will be equally inattentive.
1. Include a few removable extras
This is a bit of a psychological hack that I’ve learned from past experience, and it’s a really smart way to get approval on the services you want to provide. Alongside your core services, include a handful of discretionary extras – services that aren’t essential to the proposal, but do provide some form of benefit. Price them slightly higher than you might otherwise, and present the proposal to your client.
Most clients look to push-back on proposals. Thankfully, you’ve just prepared for that – and when they look to reduce their spend, they’re most likely to cut the overpriced extras. Your core services remain intact, so you’re happy – and your client has managed to reduce their monthly expenditure, so they’re happy. Everybody wins!