You’ve had your initial meeting and now your potential client has requested a proposal from your accounting firm. It’s exciting stuff because you know that your firm is perfect for the job at hand - you just need to show that.
Yet you might be thinking some proposals you send don’t earn a response, holding up your ability to close deals. You get all the information and data right and you’re giving the prospect what you think they need - so what could it be?
From the correct messaging to follow-up emails, we lay out some useful tips on how you can write a winning sales proposal that actually gets a response from your prospects and help you close deals more smoothly.
Every Proposal is Unique
Every one of your prospects is an individual, with specific goals and requirements, so you should ensure to treat the proposal you send them in the same way. No one wants to receive an impersonal template that feels like it might have been hashed together at the last minute.
The best advice we can give you on curating a personalised proposal is to ask for a brief from your prospect. Here are a few things that can be included in a brief to help in the sales proposal creation step:
- Ascertain how much information they would like to be included - does the prospect prefer a brief summary or a full document with detail?
- Do they want you to answer a list of specific issues or explain how you might hit their goals?
- Do they require a full breakdown of costs or itemisation of your services?
Don’t be afraid to ask your prospect questions about what they want from you so that they can add it to their brief for you.
Once you’ve gotten a hang of the brief, this information is essential to helping to understand how best to structure your proposal. Remember that it needs to be easy enough to read and understand, so try not to use so much accountancy jargon.
Utilise the brief you’ve been given to plan out your proposal’s structure. One example of a proposal can include the following sections (dependant on what your prospect is looking for):
- The project or executive summary
- An ‘About Us’ section of your accounting firm - qualifications, skills, and expertise
- Address how your firm can provide the solution to their pain points
- Information about key colleagues who will be working with the prospect
- Your cost breakdowns for services
- Address expected goals and completion dates
Your proposal should look to answer everything set out in the prospect’s brief, so as long as you achieve that, then the structure should come naturally.
Whether it’s a short or a long proposal, visuals can be incredibly beneficial for both you and your prospective client.
It can help you pare down a vast amount of information, data or statistics that you want to get across, into helpful visuals such as graphs or charts. These visualisations will help your prospect be able to take in that information much more easily and help it stick in their mind.
Previous research has shown that when people hear information, they will only remember 10% of it three days later. However, if that information is linked to a relevant image, people remembered 55% more about that information three days later.
Promote the Benefits
People choose a service or a product because it benefits them in some way, mainly because it provides a solution to their problem. When writing up your proposal, language is everything. Hone in on these pain points and work to emphasise the various benefits your services will provide your prospect. Will you be saving them time, money, or even resources?
One great way to work in the benefits is to pair them alongside your costs. People are often willing to spend more money on something if they realise the value behind it.
Ensure you focus on the word “you” throughout your proposal. It will help you personalise the benefits by structuring sentences such as:
- “By investing X amount, you’ll be able to save three days worth of time and resources on these tasks” or even,
- “You’ll be amazed at what you’ll be able to achieve by spending X amount.”
By promoting the value and benefits behind what you do, you’re showing you can provide quality services for your prospect - and money shouldn’t be an issue.
Are you still using writing your proposals in the body of an email? It could be a reason that’s hindering your closing process. Proposals via email can come across as unprofessional and rushed and people don’t want to read through a wall of text in an email. But don’t worry, there are some different solutions.
It’s all in the presentation. There are many tools and specialist software you can look into that have been designed for accountancy such as PandaDoc, Practice Ignition, or even GoProposal. These are usually ready-made templates or smart templates that you can personalise and build with specific elements that you need.
If you’d rather create your own, you can always go down the traditional PowerPoint Presentation or the effective Google Slides route - just don’t go overboard with the animations!
When a prospect receives a proposal, you want them to see the care and attention to detail you’ve carefully crafted for them. A personalised and bespoke proposal will help win over your prospect and help you close the deal quicker.
Nurture with Follow-Up Emails
Do you tend to send a proposal and then just… wait? Perhaps you don’t want to come across as pushing for a sale and so leave sending any follow-up calls or emails, but there is a better way.
Nick Taylor, Head of Digital Growth at Luminate says,
“When you’re having a meeting with your prospect, it’s important that you set the expectations of what’s to come. Explain to them when you’ll aim to send the proposal, when you’ll follow-up, and so on. By getting the prospect to commit to each of these steps, you’ll come to find they’re more willing and interested to work alongside you, because they know what to expect from you at each stage.”
In addition to Nick's advice, using email automation software such as HubSpot can lend a hand in nurturing your prospects gently over the line. You could set-up trigger-based workflows that might work like this:
- You send your bespoke proposal to your prospect via email
- Once the prospect opens the email and the attached proposal this triggers...
- A follow-up email to be sent three days later, asking what they thought of the proposal, if they’ve understood what was laid out, and if they have any questions
- Once the prospect replies, this response can alert you to set-up a call with the prospect to discuss the proposal.
- And so on.
Those little nudges against clear expectations can show the prospect your dedication to them and their needs.
Bonus Advice: Video Proposals
You might be thinking, video proposals are weird. You might be surprised, as a platform, video is certainly on the rise and shows no signs of slowing down. There are four times as many people who would rather watch a video about something than read about it.
You make videos with just about anything these days, even with a smartphone. So try it out - it can help build your own confidence and give you a chance to practice making your proposal sound exciting. Plus, it’s a little different!
Whether you’re a startup accounting firm or more established, it’s always good to update your processes now and then. Especially if there’s a better way. With our advice, you’ll be on your way to writing better, more exciting sales proposals that will help you turn your prospects into willing clients who see the value of what you’re able to provide them.
For more insights on lead generation for your accounting firm, take a peek at our eBook ‘30 Greatest Lead Generation Tips’.