The marketing industry is expanding every day and client competition remains tighter than ever. This is especially true with those trying to enter new markets. Most established businesses have their go-to agencies and digital content services for outsourcing. This means that delivering a compelling offer to prospects also means convincing them to move away from their existing relationships. It’s not an easy thing to do. To survive, companies need to develop new and creative strategies to win clients. Most clients decide whether to do business with a company based on the business proposal. The basics for such proposals include: Clear benefits of the product or service you are offering Historical data such as client reviews that demonstrate your competence A few key features that represent a unique advantage to the prospect A clear and compelling call to action The following proposal strategies will allow you to dig deeper in order to present a compelling case. The case to be made is not only for new business on the look-out for your services but also for those who, out of necessity, have to try and win their prospects away from their existing business-to-business loyalties. 1. Objectives Before you jump into writing that business proposal, make sure you have the right objectives. You might feel the need to promote your business in the proposal. However, this is not the time for promotions. A business proposal should be more about addressing your clients’ needs. This requires some level of patient research on your part. Do not assume you know what your client needs. Your objectives should be built upon sound knowledge, or a good estimate, of what your client’s presenting needs at this time. Some ways to gain insight into your client’s current needs are: Dig into their social media interaction. Is there a pattern of business emerging in their organization that you have the resources to compliments? Follow any PR they are distributing. Are they launching into new areas that you can address with your product or service? Read their new content, blog articles, and reviews. Are there opportunities for you to address problems, introduce new opportunities or improve their service delivery based on the emerging patterns from these sources? The data from this research will help you form direct objectives and the respective features and benefits you choose to highlight in your proposal. 2. Data Analysis A business proposal must leave the impression that you have good knowledge of your potential client. You should demonstrate that you understand the industry you are speaking to and the needs of both their clients and their company. So, beyond looking for opportunities via their own published content and reviews, you can also look at: Their client or customer demographics The about page of their website Any geographical markers that are relevant For example, have they recently moved into new product areas, new services or new locations? Could there be an opportunity in your proposal to add value to their existing marketing in these areas? The typical approach in any new client proposal is to try and cover all possible areas of opportunity. For example, a marketing agency might try and address design, conversion rate optimization, local SEO factors and more. This attempt to be all things to the prospect may work against you and become too generic to motivate the prospect to respond. In some cases, it is better to focus on two or three key areas which you research and data suggest are at the forefront of the prospective client’s mind and move in with your client proposal with a direct emphasis on those opportunities. In addition to this, it’s also a good idea to demonstrate from additional data that the specific or niche services you are providing are in demand from prospects in the same niche. Offer survey data that reveals how other clients are interested in the idea and make sure your language is professional, high-quality and that the tempo and well written. 3. Narrative Most businesses present their proposals through PowerPoint slideshows or similarly uninteresting sources. With the rising use of cloud and purely web-based communication and process management, using a cloud-based system to brand your client and sales proposals and ensure mobile compatibility will help streamline your interaction and also present a consistently professional image commiserate with your prospects expectations. Through the use of cloud-based digital proposals, a business can structure their prospect interaction as a narrative. This means the whole process begins to form a story-telling relationship with their prospect. It enables prospects to enter into your customer’s story and opens the way to form new loyalties. People love to know the story. Whether it’s grounded in your companies history, it’s people or its clients, forming a strategy that enables a narrative to take place is a great enticement for your projects to consider you as a serious player in the market. Beyond that, your business narrative offers the chance to provide detailed information that supports your company’s case within the proposal. 4. Audit for Roadblocks Do not rush through your business, sales or new client proposal. How many proposals have landed in your email box that was well written but totally failed to demonstrate any real knowledge of your business? One that I receive on a regular basis is concerning search optimization. So often they make totally unnecessary mistakes that put them out o the running before the race has begun. For example: Telling me my site could do with some design tweaks – but failing to tell me what those tweaks are: Telling me I am not ranking for my most important keywords without citing a single example. Poor English and grammar. No outline of likely fee’s. This last one is important. You want to remove as many roadblocks as you can and answer as many questions as you can. Don’t make the client reply with “How much?”. If they are going to reply, you want it to be with a statement like, “I can meet on Wednesday”, or, “I would like to follow this up with you”. Read through and audit your proposal after you have finished writing. Think about what you have written and decided whether or not it is necessary, correct, compelling and is governed by the call to action you want them to take. Be careful not to scare away your potential client with unnecessary language. The key to receiving a ‘yes’ to your proposal is to ensure it is free form any roadblocks – things that would stop them in their tracks toward taking action. 5. Strategic Outline An outline will help you provide a natural and logical flow within your client proposal. Subheadings are a great way to develop this strategic outlines and help you to stay on point. It should include a very brief introduction that flows naturally to your most important sub-heads. Specifically, your outline should include a (very brief) introduction letter. Two or three sentences should be plenty. It should go on to provide a project overview section, pricing, case studies, testimonials, reviews (two or three is plenty. One good review might even be better) and an acceptance page or call to action section. Be sure to include a high quality concluding message. You don’t want your effort to stumble at the finish line of your client proposal. 7. Make it Personal While it is important not to be overly familiar with your prospect, a potential client does not want to see any “we” on the first page of a business proposal. Make the first few paragraphs about the client; make the proposal personal. Let them feel that you know their pain points and understand what they are trying to accomplish. Use their name and also use yours. State your own experience and position in the company – not just the companies credentials. At the end of the day, no matter how digital and anonymous we think we have become, people trust – or don’t trust, people. Company loyalties are famously built on personal relationships and the development of close personal ties between the narrative of the client and the contact point within the organization.