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May 22, 2022

Proposals: Why and How They Help You Increase Your Small Business Income

Proposals: Why and How They Help You Increase Your Small Business Income

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Today's topic in the Livecast Lifestyle is proposals.

What Are Proposals? 

We looked up the definition online for proposals and it told us a plan or suggestion, especially a formal or written one put forward for consideration or discussion by others.

We feel that it's important to conclude a proposal with your offer. State specifically, we’re going to do this for you. It's going to cost this much money. A prospective client can sign and accept the proposal and then it becomes an exhibit in your contract with your client.

Is a Proposal a Contract?

Not all people see a proposal as a method for moving forward to the pricing question and the contracting question. We do. We offer the client an opportunity to agree to the proposal. 

A proposal doesn't always have contractual terms in it. But, when you send out the first invoice, Square has a contract you can add with it and you can attach your proposal as an exhibit to the contract and they have to sign those things. 

Everybody knows along the way where you're going. If you are working with a client who's hesitant or has other priorities, getting them a proposal helps them to move forward. A professional proposal helps build confidence in you, your business, and the quality of your work. 

A Proposal Provides Legitimacy and Promotes Confidence

I was speaking to a gentleman who was doing some brick work for my neighbor. I asked him, do you do concrete work as well? He said I do both. I asked, can I have your business card? He said that he didn't have a business card. My first reaction to that is how serious are you about your business?

If I invite him to look at the back of my house and tell him what I want, I'm going to expect a proposal. If he says I'll charge you X number of bucks and I can do it next Saturday, that makes me feel immediately uncomfortable. Because it sounds like this is not a legitimate business. I don't have any confidence or recourse when there's no contract. 

A professional proposal is one way to give your client the confidence that you know what you're talking about and your business is legitimate. 

Who Should Use Proposals and Why? 

Businesses, small or large, offering a service or product, can use a proposal. Consultants, coaches, or entrepreneurs who want to reach out to prospective clients quickly to offer the exact solution those clients desire can benefit as well.

A high-quality proposal is a visually exciting and interactive communications tool. 

We've been working to ‌convert prospects to clients, starting with a videoconference. We finish the call by discussing the next steps. Unfortunately, these prospective clients don't move forward or even respond when we follow up with email and phone calls. 

But we have found that when we follow up with a visually engaging formal proposal, we get a response. People understand ‌we are professionals. We take this ‌seriously and they take it seriously as well.

Toby used to design sales processes, and he tried to limit the number of steps in the sales process. Usually, the third step in the sales process required the submission of a proposal. At that point, you have identified yourself to the client. You've agreed on the client's requirements. They should be ready for your proposal. There's nothing that prevents you from iterating that process, meaning you can modify the proposal as needed. This gives them a chance to see if you understand what their requirements and problems are and how you would satisfy and solve them.

When you present prospective clients with a proposal, you give them an indication of how smart you are about how you solve problems. You’ve given them the opportunity to say, I like your proposal, but I would like to make some changes. Your proposal is the impetus that gets the client involved in deciding to pay for your services. They can continue to make changes ‌until ‌they sign. That signature says we both agree on the solution they desire.

At AGK Media Studio, we have a few products and services, and there are a few ways we implement those products and services.

But back in the olden days, it was hundreds of products, hundreds of solutions, hundreds of services added to the products. Toby had to spend more time out front with the client, trying to figure out what they wanted. But in both cases, that's where the proposal comes in. That's where we feed back to them what we understand about their requirements. We let them know how we solve their problems and what we offer to solve those problems. 

Communication Leads to Solutions

Using the proposal as a communication tool, they can say you missed this requirement, or I don't have this problem, but I do have this problem

Then you have to decide whether you can help them. You may realize this isn't the right client for you, and you're not the right service provider for them. 

When you're working with the government, they put out what's called an RFP, a request for proposals, and it specifies what they want. Chapter M in that RFP is always, here's how we'd like you to configure your proposal. There were two opportunities to convince the government that you could do the job. One was when you submitted your proposal. Then they gave everybody the opportunity for an oral presentation to present their ideas. They would ask questions and then that contract would be awarded.

Sometimes they would have another round of refinements. They would say, everybody got this wrong. We've rewritten this part of the specification. You have one month to rewrite your proposal and we'll go through the process all over again

Working with the government for 30 years, I learned about ‌being asked for a proposal, submitting a proposal, and refining the proposal until you're both on the same page in terms of the project resolution. I brought that knowledge with me into this business. Until recently, every project that we did was so different that it was hard to have a consistent set of proposals. But I always had a contract, and the contract had the requirements in it and clients had to agree and sign that contract.

If you're like us, you may never get to see your client in person. You're always working online. Clients are all over the world and the proposal process we use is perfect for that because the products that are available to help us do this are also online.

Why Are We Using a Proposal? 

We want to increase our revenue by making more offers. If you have proposal templates set up for every one of your products, then you can easily make customized adjustments to it and keep sending it out, making more offers. It builds and refines your catalog of offerings. 

If you have a good proposal template, for example, we're going to publish your book for you. Or, we're going to produce your livecast show for you. You can have a collection of those proposals. Each one covers an offering, and it helps you to refine exactly what goes into that offer and all the value it provides. 

Communication and Tracking

A proposal improves our team's communication. It keeps us on the same page. We know that if it's on that proposal, then we will do that work and anything else is extra. 

We know where it's at. We can track every step:

  • Send the proposal to the client.
  • The client receives and opens it. 
  • They sign it.
  • We send an invoice.
  • They pay the invoice. 
  • We begin the work.

We know where we're at and we don’t have to guess. If we have several proposals out for consideration, ‌we know what is going on with each one. 

This back-and-forth feedback helps us to understand what sells and what doesn't work. If we put out a proposal two or three times and people don't like it, then we know we need to refine that. 

It helps us to manage our pipeline, and it gives us a reason to reach out to our clients. Have you read over our proposal? Did you have any thoughts on that proposal? There is something tangible to talk about and work through with them. You can ask the client, is there anything else that you need that I could add or any changes you want to make? You have the leverage you need to keep moving the client through the decision process.

Your proposal shows that you're very serious and professional about what you're offering. You and your business look more credible. If you have a beautiful proposal that streamlines all the information that they need in one place, it looks very professional. It tells the client these people have done this before. They know what they're doing

We’re always talking about the Johari window of visibility, credibility, trust, and transformation. That’s what the proposal is supporting. By providing them this proposal with an offer in it, you're at the credibility stage. You're building credibility with them. Every time you have a conversation with them, that's what you're doing.

When they sign that proposal, you just hit the trust step. They believe ‌you can help them. Five ‌proposals with the same client you're in the transformation stage. They trust you so much they're going to ask you to help them change their business.

Proposals Improve Your Business and Sales Processes

Whenever you're looking at your analytics, you can see how many proposals you’ve drafted and submitted, how many were accepted, and if any were changed and accepted. You have those analytics to look at and determine how you’re doing in that visibility-trust-transformation relationship building in your business. Then, when people trust you enough, they're going to talk to other people about you.

People say, I was watching the work that you did with my friend Bob, and I'd like to do the same thing. They get the same proposal from us. The only thing we change is names and addresses and things like that. They may not always want exactly that, but it's a good place to start.

Our viewer, Mary, says, when I contracted with a client, he was good with the cost of the job. Then he wanted another wall redone in the oil base. He had to do another contract. He wasn't happy with the extra cost. Clients are never happy with the extra costs. But there has to be something that says, this is extra work. So this is going to incur extra costs. 

We have a clause in our contract that says if there are requirements above and beyond the scope of this contract, we’ll prepare another proposal and contract. Make that clear so they don’t assume they can make changes after the work has begun. Nope. That wasn't in the proposal. The contract says that's another proposal and contract. 

When Do You Send a Proposal? 

Send a proposal as soon as the prospective client asks for one. It's also good to offer one at the end of every related conversation if you feel the person is a good fit for you and your business. I'm sure we can work together. It sounds like I can solve this problem for you. Where can I send a proposal? 

They might get excited that somebody is going to solve their problem and is moving forward now.

Moving forward thrilled the client we just recently signed because she has been trying to move to the next step on her own for a couple of years. We sent her a proposal for publishing her book and said, here's everything we’ll do and here's what we need from you. She saw that, and she had tangible proof to show her husband that it was finally going to happen.

If the client is telling you, I'm very interested in having this done. How much will it cost? Answer with I’ll send you a proposal. They will want to read it over carefully to determine the value and the cost of solving their problem.

If somebody asks what do you do? What does your company do? How do you work? What is your process? Answer with I will send you a proposal and you'll have all the information.

The Proposal Is a Step In Your Sales Process 

I had an excellent friend who worked for a software company. The software company was originally based in California, but he was with their federal government branch in D.C. in the marketing department. He wanted to go into sales, but he felt like he didn't have a sales personality.

I talked to him about what a sales personality is and what elements you need to deliver. I said, if you're not comfortable in sales, start with a proposal. All you have to do is visit with the client. Listen to them, you don't have to talk. You don't have to sell anything. Have a conversation with a client. Ask open-ended questions, document all their answers, and finish by writing a proposal and sending it to them. 

Proposals Are Designed to Get to Yes 

Without having to ask any more questions, you should be able to answer all their questions with your proposal. If they do have questions, then you're going to get a call from them. So, it's a good place to start if you're not comfortable with sales. Knowing how to do a proposal is a really easy way to accelerate the sales process.

Use your proposal as an opportunity every time you speak with a client. Can I send you a sample so you get an idea of how we work? Always offer to send one, even if it isn't the proposal that has their signature block on it, because that formalizes the process. 

How Much Do You Charge?

You don’t want to answer the question, how much do you guys charge? with a number that doesn’t have the supporting value attached to it. Instead, use that opportunity to say let me send you one of our sample proposals. It has the pricing model on it. That way, you ‌put your proposal in front of them, which explains the value they’ll receive along with a vision of their happy future after you solve their problem.

Commitment and Clarity

Offering a sample proposal will shut the door to anybody who is not fully committed to solving their problem and doing business with you. It makes them realize that you're serious about your business and they will be less likely to waste your time. 

A proposal provides clarity for the client. They understand exactly what we do and exactly what they need to do along with the bottom line of how much it's going to cost. Then they can either take the next step forward or close the door to solving that problem. It gives them clarity to make a fully informed decision. 

How Do You Create a Professional Proposal? 

There are many ways to put together a proposal, but we've discovered a new product that we just love called Proposa.

If you want to see a demonstration of Proposa, watch our video.

We found Proposa on AppSumo is a marketplace for online applications that you can use for your business. Most of the time, it offers apps that you normally would have to pay for monthly. But through AppSumo, you can purchase the app and you don't have to make those monthly subscription payments.

With Proposa, we got everything we needed for creating proposals. If you run a larger company, you might want a higher level, but for entrepreneurs or consultants, this is an excellent product.

Proposa has a variety of templates, which is the best place to start. 

Proposa will store the proposal online using a link that's permanent. We have a team of two and we can both sign on to edit the proposal. 

Proposa looks like a modern website with a choice of blocks you can customize and move around. The executive summary, that's one block. You can also choose from objectives and goals, a bulleted list, a journey, or a methodology. There's a block for the terms and conditions. Add information with pictures and text. You can also create proposals by grabbing blocks ‌you've created in past proposals. Save your boiler plate with each proposal that you submit, and then you can incorporate it into‌ your upcoming proposal. 

We present prospective clients who receive our proposal with a box where they digitally sign their names. The app will send a message to us when they open and look at it. We get a message when it's signed. When it's signed, we know that they've agreed to that proposal so we can send an invoice. If they open it three or four times and then ‌email saying I have some questions about your proposal, we can write back and send them a link to schedule a meeting and we can talk about that. We can change the proposal and send them another one.

You can schedule when your proposal expires. We tell the client when they get the first email that the proposal expires in 30 days. You don't want a situation where you write a proposal in May and the client comes back in August and says, I'm going to accept that proposal you sent me. You may have raised your prices or stopped doing that type of work. An expiration date also encourages the client to move forward more quickly.

Save Money With a Discount Code

If you are interested in getting the Proposa app or any other app from AppSumo, and you’re a first-time customer, you can use this code to get a $10 discount on any product you buy from AppSumo. 

Make More Money When You Make More Offers

We published a book on Amazon called Livecast Life, the Content Creator Lifestyle. Part of that lifestyle is making offers. It's great to create content, but the second half of that is offering your services or your products to people so there can be some sort of exchange and you can produce income from your business.

And you can get our book at and learn more about how to do that.

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