Our tips to improve your proposal writing skills.

7 Signs Your Proposal Writing Needs Improving

Posted on May 16th, 2017 by Chris

Proposal Writing Tips to Win Over Clients

Proposal writing is the final step in the sales process. You’ve generated a lead, built rapport, and now it’s time to sell yourself as the best candidate to help generate value for the company. The ask can be a scary thing for many, but a strong proposal eases that stress. By now, since you know exactly what the client wants, it’s as simple as outlining how you can give it to them in a proposal. This is the time to be detailed, without going overboard. You’ve found your golden goose, so don’t scare it off. It’s time to strike gold.

In this article, we’ll be covering 7 common mistakes when writing business proposals. Avoid them at all costs and you’ll have better odds at landing your client.

1. You’re selling something they don’t need.

Identify your client’s needs before you sit down and start writing your proposal. Everything comes natural after that. When qualifying leads, make sure you ask open ended questions. This will tell you what services you can have the highest impact on, and what will add the most value to their business. Clearly outline the core services your client needs and nothing more. Before you submit your proposal, re-think the services you’re pitching. Then, cut the fat and thank us later.

2. You’re telling them what you do, not what the benefit is for them.

You’ve outlined your services. It’s detailed and specific. They know exactly what they’re getting and how your team is going to get it done. What they don’t understand (at all) is how these services benefit them. Your proposal should describe how your company’s strengths impact their business. If they don’t understand why, and how, you’re pushing their business goals forward, you’re less likely to close them as a client.

3. You’re not including timelines and deliverables.

Strong proposals break down services into specific tasks with deadlines. If you want your proposal to impress your lead enough that they can’t wait to sign you, they need to know exactly what it will be like when they’re working with you. After signing a contract, what will your first week working together look like? How about the first month? What about the quarter?

4. Your pricing isn’t based, even in part, on success

“I’m spending x dollars and I’m getting what?” That’s what your potential client is thinking when reading through your proposal. In fact, they might skip straight to your pricing before actually reading through the whole document. If your rapport and expertise wowed them already, it’s a very likely scenario. Is there a correlation between your plan to success and your pricing?

5. Your CTA sucks.

You know the saying, “if you never ask, you’ll never receive”? That’s what happens when your Call to Action sucks. The application of enticing CTAs is not limited to websites and advertising. To drive someone from considering your services to signed client, you need to give them direction. Tell them what to do. Make it clear. Make it confident. Make it compelling. Bonus points for humour.

6. It’s too long.

You know what we just said about CTAs? About how they need to be clear and compelling? The same theory applies to your whole proposal. If it’s too long then you’re distracting from the offer and the ask. Make your Offer. Make it compelling. State your Ask. Anything else? Delete it. It’s unnecessary and harmful to your chances. If your proposal can be one page, don’t make it two. Make it part of your editing process.

7. Your document looks terrible.

Aesthetics matter way more than you could ever imagine. If a proposal isn’t visually appealing, it will look like you didn’t put in any effort. It will look rushed. Beautiful proposals win over clients. They’re easier to look at, and easier to read. Most importantly, they’re easier to close a deal with.


Proposal success doesn’t come down to luck. This isn’t about throwing things at a wall and hoping something sticks. Yes, you will never close all the deals you propose, but when you follow the above principles, you’ll certainly improve your chances of success. Cover everything your client is looking for in a partnership with you. Show them where their money is going and how each of your services benefits their business. Make them visualize what working with you will be like and how you’ll reach success together. Make it concise and visually appealing. Ask for the job.