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Must know: the ideal structure for a proposal

How great would it be if you knew the ideal proposal structure? That you always had a blueprint that you only had to adapt to the customer with each request. A blueprint with the right structure that puts the customer in the right mood doubles the chance of an agreement. The following must-knows guarantee an ideal, successful construction. Take advantage of it and create your own proposal blueprint!

Proposal structure

Why is structure so important?

Need for structure is a human need. Every person needs structure. It provides certainty, clarity and contributes to confidence. That is exactly what you want to give the customer or prospect, especially when you send him a proposal. If there is no structure, it creates confusion, unrest, doubt, suspicion or disinterest. The chance of an agreement is then considerably smaller. With the right structure, your proposal is like a marble track where the marble reaches its final destination in one smooth movement. Read on and discover which requirements a well-structured and structured proposal must meet. The examples we give are aimed at assignments, but with a little adjustment they can also be used for product proposal.

The 10 most important parts (and their place in the proposal)

  1. Cover
  2. preface
  3. The current situation at the customer
  4. Desired situation and its purpose
  5. Method, planning and results
  6. The price
  7. Closing
  8. Company presentation
  9. Any customer cases
  10. Terms and Conditions

1. Cover

A beautiful cover with a powerful title immediately catches the eye. You break the beaten path and immediately put the customer or prospect in a positive mindset. A good title attracts attention and informs. It is most convenient to use a main and subtitle. Keep the title short and to the point: maximum 7 words for the main title and no more than 10 words for the subtitle. Below you can see an example of a cover for a proposal for a customer-friendly chatbot. When you use an online proposal tool, creating a beautiful, effective cover is a piece of cake.

Proposal cover

2 Introduction

It is best to stand out immediately in the first paragraph. Therefore, avoid chliché phrases such as: Following our pleasant conversation last (date), I am sending you our proposal for a customer service chatbot. Such sentences are read by customers and prospects only with half an eye. Think back for a moment to the marble track and positive mindset. You want your marble to reach its final destination in one smooth movement without any obstacles. The introduction is typically such a part that you always adapt to your customer. This is where you set the tone for the rest of the proposal. For example, with an opening sentence like this: Good customer service demonstrably yields more turnover and engagement. Only 20% of all accountancy firms are active in this. If it were up to us, (name of organization) will soon take the lead here. You can also highlight your first paragraph with a relevant headline, appropriate proposal, or triggering question. After this, pay attention to the reason for the proposal and explain the structure of your proposal.

3. The current situation at the customer

When describing the current situation, it is important that you show that you know exactly what the customer is all about. Keep it concise, use words that the customer uses and get to the point quickly. This makes the customer feel understood and at ease more quickly. He will continue the rest of the proposal with a positive mindset.

4. What is the desired situation and for what purpose?

First describe the customer question, concrete, personal and recognizable. You make it personal by addressing the customer directly (you, you, you) and don't forget to mention yourself in this (we, me). After this, you state the purpose of the assignment, note, from the perspective of the customer. So describe what the customer achieves with it. If we go back to chatbots for accounting firms, the first goal is probably accessibility, but the second and perhaps more important goal for the organization is that a chatbot picks up many common questions, giving the accountants time for the more complex (and often also more profitable) questions.

5. Method, planning and results

Go through the different phases of your approach or of the process and name the benefits, the time frame and the results. At the same time, this part is a great opportunity to profile yourself or your organization subtly. How? By naming your added value at each stage. For example, use conclusions from previous successful projects. PS: This section is also a good time to refer to an About Us page (company presentation) and previous successful cases.

Proposal investment

6. The price

The most tactical place for this part is therefore after your approach, planning and results. That way, the customer or prospect is already halfway on the marble track. His mood is positive and confidence has grown nicely after reading about the approach, the benefits and the results. You maintain this mood by putting the investment above this section instead of the costs. Cost or price have a negative connotation. Investment, on the other hand, indicates that it is profitable. Distinguish yourself further by showing how the total amount is calculated, specify actions, services, products, including any discounts, extra services and things for which you do not charge anything. Also give alternative options. Do you use an online proposal program? Then you process these alternatives simply and effectively in interactive tables with check boxes. Having a choice feels like an advantage and is a proven method. You can read more about this in our blog "Make a proposal? Let the customer choose! ". Finally, refer to the general terms and conditions at the end of this section.

7. Conclusion

Subconsciously, we humans best remember the first and last thing we see. Therefore, provide an original and enthusiastic conclusion. So not: Hoping for a positive response, we stay blah blah blah. But for example: We cannot wait to bring the customer service of (company or organization name) to the next level together! Go through our proposal at your leisure and if you have any questions, don't hesitate to get in touch. We will contact you by (date, week) at the latest to inquire whether we can get started. That way you show enthusiasm and commitment. Did you know that with an online proposal tool it is very easy for the customer to ask questions directly within the proposal? You can make your own marble track with such a tool. Asking questions, approving the proposal, everything can be done quickly and easily, online in one go to an agreement!

Proposal company info

8. Company presentation

This section is comparable to the About us page on a website, where you briefly describe what you do and why, which products you supply and to whom. You also mention your strengths here. Do not underestimate this part, it gives your company a face and without a doubt has a positive and reinforcing effect on your customer or prospect. With a digital proposal you can create beautiful presentations in which you can easily present your employees, add visuals and integrate videos. For example, give your customer a look behind the scenes with a virtual tour.

9. Customer cases

Cases or reviews help your (new) customer to convince you that you are the best choice. Depending on the customer, the question and any problems, you choose a suitable case or review and add it to your proposal. Customer cases, reviews or testimonials create trust, strengthen the favor factor and remove possible doubts.

10. Terms and Conditions

In the section about the investment you have mentioned the general terms and conditions. You are legally obliged to provide this to the customer or prospect before or during the conclusion of an agreement. An extra tip: make your referral as positive as possible, for example with: In our general terms and conditions you can read everything about our working method and you know exactly what you can and can expect from us.

The blueprint

So, now you know all the must-knows about the ideal structure of proposals. High time to turn it into a blueprint. And that is now very easy with an online proposal tool. With Offorte's tool, you work with templates, so you don't have to keep reinventing the wheel, er the blueprint. You make your proposal suitable for the customer and their question and voilà! Moreover, Offorte can be used by several users. In this way you share visuals, videos and other successful content blocks. Making proposals with your own blueprint, we couldn't make it more fun;)

Gabriëlle de Sain

Gabriëlle de Sain

Tuesday, October 6, 2020 - Create Proposal


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