Do a Google search for SEO Firm. SEO Professional. Local SEO Firm. SEO service. Look at those search results. Crazy competition out there. The good news: there are about a zillion businesses that need SEO and there’s plenty of work to go around BUT you do need to rise above your competitors to close the deal. A sales proposal is a pretty simple way to set yourself apart. Surprisingly (to me) the very basic step of furnishing prospects with a well written, well designed sales proposal has become obsolete. Sure, many SEO firms put a few details in writing and fire off an email. That’s not a sales proposal. And that’s not going to put you in the running against a firm that ties everything together into a nicely packaged presentation for the client, i.e., a real honest-to-goodness sales proposal!
Sales proposals don’t have to be the headache they once were.
You can find online tools and templates that simplify or even automate the process to varying degrees. Other than the sales proposal tool we recently released at the firm for which I work, I haven’t taken a close look at any of them. I’ve done enough research to know that they’re out there. Some are free, some are not and some are included in an SEO reseller program. I’m not here to review, recommend or dis any of them! Let’s save that discussion/debate for the comments and move on to the more pressing matter of the importance of writing a stellar sales proposal.
Before you begin writing your proposal, keep in mind this very daunting statistic: 90% of sales proposals fail to lead to a sale. Don’t let that be an excuse to not do it! Just know the factors that typically cause a sales proposal to fail and you’ll be fine.
IF IT DOESN’T FIT, DON’T FORCE IT
In your ambition to sell your services, it’s very easy to focus on what’s good for you instead of what’s good for the customer. That shortsighted view will result in poor customer retention–customer retention is what really grows your business. You should know the client’s business, goals and budget before you begin writing your proposal. Most people are very skeptical when they’re considering a service they don’t fully understand or not sure they really need. Recommend only the services that you truly believe will benefit the client and get results that will make your customer want to stick with you. Let’s be honest, pay-per-click advertising is not for everyone. Same with social media.
ARE YOU TALKING TO ME?
By the time you’ve gotten to the proposal stage, you should have a sense of your client’s comfort level with the more technical aspects of online marketing. Write in language that you know your client will understand. Those of us in the online marketing business often forget that some of the most basic online marketing concepts are completely foreign to many business owners. Not everyone is familiar with basic terms like “exact match keyword” or “organic ranking.” You’ll have a tough time convincing a prospect to pay for something they don’t understand in the least.
DETAILS…BUT NOT TMI
Provide a clear and concise outline of the services you will provide. Be clear about your responsibilities and those of the client. It’s OK to let your client know that he or she does have responsibilities. Be frugal with your words, avoid TMI (too much information) and focus on what’s really important.
THE MARGIN FOR ERROR
There is no margin for error! Zero. You may have exactly 0 typos, grammatical errors, math errors or errors of any kind in your proposal. Proofread and proofread again then have someone else proofread.
LOOKS ARE EVERYTHING
Be consistent with fonts, use images, use your branding and logo, make it beautiful.
IMO, some things that do need to change in the business world are not happening fast enough. Why aren’t more of us telecommuting? Working flex hours? Bringing our kids or dogs to work? Alright, maybe not the dogs/kids but I think we can all agree that some business practices really do need to adapt to life in the 21st century. (Perhaps that will be the topic of my next blog.) But, while we’re slow to modernize some business practices, we’re quick to give up on some of the time-tested things, like sales proposals (and outstanding customer service, personal interaction with clients, being able to talk to a real person instead of an automated voicemail system…sorry, just spent 30 minutes pressing 4 for more options and never getting a good option or a real person!) that do lead to business success. Write that sales proposal!