Hands raised if you’ve ever sent a proposal to a client? Chances are, if you’re reading this blog, you’ve sent proposals in your business or you know you need to start but you’re not entirely sure what a proposal even is. We’ve all been there, but the good news is that I’m breaking it all down for you right here. So you can scratch “what to include in my proposal” from your Google search after this read 😉
But before I hand you this neatly packed, bullet-pointed checklist of what to include in your proposals, I want to ensure we understand why we should use proposals in our business and how Dubsado’s proposal feature can bridge that gap for us.
And because your time is valuable (hello, we’re all business owners and humans around here), I’m keeping this blog fluff-free! Here’s a quick breakdown of what I’m sharing, so you can easily find what you need most.
The Blog Breakdown
• Why are proposals important to your selling process?
• How is sales psychology used in proposals?
• What are the key fundamentals every proposal should follow?
• What are the recommended elements to include in a proposal?
• A few more details about me (if you’re the curious type) + a curated list of resources no matter what your relationship status with Dubsado looks like right now.
So, what the heck is a proposal anyways and why send one?
By definition, a proposal is a written offer from a seller to a prospective buyer. It’s one of the many tools we use within the selling process.
Although every business is unique and we all have different ways of interacting and communicating with our clients, I can confirm many of us have similar processes in how our clients inquire and book our services.
I’ve worked with hundreds of businesses and see many similarities in the inquiry/booking phase across dozens of industries.
For most of us: by the time our potential leads have a proposal in their hands, they have
• Interacted with you on social media
• Surfed your website
• Opted into your freebies
• Purchased entry-level, low-ticket offers
• Communicated with you via email/DM
• Submitted a form/application
• Talked to you over the phone/meeting
And while you were most likely exercising sales psychology and marketing techniques in all of those unique facets of your business, the proposal is your final chance to sell and create an easy point of purchase in a way that is presentable and exciting for your potential clients.
With this in mind, we can now look at our proposals as more than just a document reiterating the pricing and details our clients have already seen… instead it’s another selling tool in our process helping our clients make their purchasing decision.
How is sales psychology infused into our proposal?
With any selling tool, we want to ensure we’re tastefully weaving in sales psychology in a way that feels good for our business and makes sense with our end goal.
If you’ve never explored sales psychology, let’s look at a few of the sales techniques we see in business (and often use on a regular basis) that we’ll also use in our proposals:
This is the practice of exchanging something of value with someone else.
Example in a proposal: the perceived value of your service in exchange for the client’s monetary value (i.e. their payment for your service)
The selling phenomenon when people copy the actions of others when deciding how to behave.
Example in a proposal: a testimonial from a past client on why they chose to invest in your service influences the prospective client why they should choose that path as well
Technique to encourage a purchase based on the fear of missing out (think FOMO).
Example in a proposal: limiting the number of clients you take on, the amount of time the client has to book, or the limit on a discount/spot/etc.
Liking/ Using Emotion
Using relatability and emotion to connect because the more you like/trust/emotionally connect with someone, the more likely you are to say yes to them.
Example in a proposal: personalizing the proposal to show interest in the potential client and connecting on an emotional level
You’re probably already spotting the ways you’re using these selling techniques in your own marketing efforts, whether it’s subconsciously (like showing up authentically on IG stories and connecting) or through intentional action (like sharing a raving testimonial on your website). And there are SO many more… These are just a few of the examples you’ll see in my framework below.
These selling techniques and elements of sales psychology weaved into our proposal content are crucial. Without them, our proposal is honestly just another page of ‘content.’ 😬
Side Note: The cool thing about sales tools is that every business will use them differently, in different ways, at different times. You may find certain techniques work well for your audience while others don’t. So keep in mind that your proposal may not look exactly like the framework I lay out below, and that’s ok! Trial and error is going to be your best friend when it comes to discovering what works for you. (But I can also say my methods are most definitely tried and true for the many business owners who have implemented my proposal framework and processes 😉)
Now that we know why we need a proposal and how we can start infusing sales psychology into them, let’s look at how we build out our proposal for a polished (and profitable) experience.
Five Key Proposal Fundamentals
Regardless of what you plan to include in your proposal or what fun unique elements you discovered are powerful tools in your selling process, there are a few key overarching fundamentals every proposal should consider.
1. Above all else, your proposal should be readable, simple to navigate, and easy to access
No matter how stellar your images and design look or how cool your branding may be, if they can’t read it or don’t know how to use it, they won’t book. It’s pretty simple. We want to make it easy as pie to book you, and that should always start with ensuring your usability isn’t a limiting factor to a client’s YES.
2. There should be a clear call to action(s)
How does the client book? What are the immediate next steps? This usually looks like submitting the proposal, signing a contract, and paying an invoice. This series of actions should be clear to understand and easily visible in the proposal language.
3. It should be personalized for each individual lead
While we want to make it easy to edit and send your proposal template, we also want to include a few areas of customization to ensure their experience feels personalized for each individual client. (ex: using their name in the copy in multiple places)
4. Keep it on-brand but professional
This proposal is extremely important in the conversion of your clients, so my best advice is to keep all the extra fun & fluff for your social media, website, newsletter, etc. While we want an on-brand and personalized experience, the form should be overall informative and actionable for the client.
5. Reiterate the key details about the service/product
What’s included? What are the deliverables? What is the timeline? Ensure all the key details are displayed in the proposal, so the client can easily find all necessary information when decision-making.
My Signature Proposal Framework
Now that you understand the key guidelines your proposal should stick to, I want to share the exact proposal framework I use in my own business and in every proposal I build for my Dubsado clients. It’s a tried and tested framework I’ve used and fine tuned since the inception of my business, and I’ve watched it work across various industries.
While you can take this framework and build it out anywhere you see fit (any CRM, a PDF, a Canva Doc, etc.), it was built with the sleek automations of Dubsado in mind, of course 🙌
Let’s break down my framework, and the eight elements I recommend including (and making your own) within your proposals.
1. Captivating Cover & Intro
2. Personalized Video Message
3. Client Section
8. Next Steps
As I break down each section, you can take a look at what this looks like fleshed out on one of my signature Dubsado templates HERE. This gives you the ability to surf the proposal instead of trying to squint at screenshots on this blog 😉
1. Captivating Cover & Intro
While your proposal should be functional and easy to use, it should still be beautifully designed; because beauty is captivating. Duh! The very top fold of your proposal is your chance to intrigue your potential client and invite them into the proposal with excitement.
2. Personalized Video Message
This is the magical, secret sauce to my proposal framework. It’s something I’ve used in my own business for years, and many of my clients adopt the technique in their own process.
Video messages can often feel very personal and sincere in a very digital exchange (like booking a service via an online proposal). Record a 1-2 minute video for every client, saying their name, repeating their pain points and desires, and walking them through how you plan on serving them.
You can also use this chance to verbally walk through their next steps to book, and what you’re looking forward to.
My favorite way to create this video is with Loom. I’ll record the video on my desktop, copy the embed code provided, and paste that in an HTML block within my Dubsado proposal. The final result will look like the below:
3. Client Section
Use this space to restate what this client’s specific needs are, where they’re at, and how you plan to transform them. This is specifically targeting their pain points, so really focus on painting the before & after of working with you.
Share the main process of how you’ll get them from A to B within your service. Help them envision what the service will look like when working with you. Consider this a 1,2,3 step method.
We want to keep this section digestible and easy to quickly scan (we want to avoid including too much information here, where they get lost in the sauce and forget they are here to make a purchase).
No confusion here. Cut straight to your packages and clearly outline what’s included, cost, and payment options. If you have additional a la carte options, you can follow up with that section.
Answer commonly asked questions here, so the client is less likely to respond with objections after reading through the proposal. Again, keep it short to read. Tackle most common objections within this section and save the rest of your FAQs for your website and consultation call.
Include 1-3 incredible testimonials from past clients to reiterate social proof and authority. You can sprinkle these throughout or have one section for testimonials, everyone is different in how they prefer this! There is no major stipulation here other than the testimonials should clearly reflect why this potential client should make this decision to purchase.
Pro-tip: Highlight stand-out text from your testimonials by highlighting important sections with italics or bold the powerful words/statements within the body of text. This makes these conversion-focused words/statements stand out when a potential client is surfing the proposal.
8. Next Steps
Outline the exact next steps in layman’s terms of what they need to do next to hire you. Write this out in an easy, actionable format, so there’s no confusion about how to book you.
If you didn’t already see all of this in action, you can take a peek at one of my signature Dubsado templates following this framework HERE.
Now, you can start building your polished proposal and utilize the down right incredible Dubsado proposal features to ensure it’s streamlined, functional, and easy to build.
Now that you know:
✅ How you can use proposals as a selling tool in you process
✅ The fundamentals of a proposal to always include for a conversion-focused proposal
✅ The eight elements to include in your proposal design
You can start building your polished proposal and utilize the down right incredible Dubsado proposal features to ensure it’s streamlined, functional, and easy to build.
But now you may be thinking, “What’s next?”
If you’re looking for tools, resources, and education to create stellar client processes, build your dream Dubsado system, and finally step into the CEO role you were made for, I’m your girl 🥳
Hey, I’m Taylor! I’m a pro-brand photographer turned systems and operations expert, Dubsado Certified Specialist, speaker, educator, and podcast host. I’m the founder of Chanel & Lee, a systems consulting studio focused on elevating your client experience by offering done for you Dubsado experiences, system support and education for the modern, multi-passionate CEO.
By now, you know I love a good list… so let’s find where you’re at below:
• “I want more in-depth details on how to perfect my proposal process.” ➡️ Click here to watch my free proposal masterclass replay.
• “I’m just here for freebies!!” ➡️ I’ve got plenty. Click here to grab them all.
• “I’m looking for more resources and education around Dubsado, systems, and client experience.” ➡️ Click here to surf to my free resource hub where I have Dubsado tutorials, blogs, and education on tap.
• “I’m a Dubsado user looking to up-level my proposals.” ➡️ Click here to browse my template shop where you can get your hands on the exact proposal template I shared in this blog (and more fun goodies)!
• “I’m a Dubsado user looking for an expert to help me automate, streamline, and tackle the system.” ➡️Click here to learn more about my done for you and with you services, including my VIP Setup.
• “I’m a potential/current Dubsado pro looking for more expert guidance and coaching in this industry.” ➡️ Click here to learn more about my Dubsado group program.
And if you’re new to the Dubs and found this blog while surfing resources and getting to know the program, welcome to the best CRM platform on earth 😍
You can get in on the unlimited trial (free for your first three clients) HERE and use my code CHANELANDLEE for 30% off your first month or year subscription.