The key components of a winning proposal

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The key components of a winning proposal

Whether you’re a one-man shop or part of an international corporation, the proposals you put in front of prospects have a significant impact on your ability to close sales. Craft a compelling, custom proposal that hits all the right notes and you’ve got the job; miss something and you’re toast. But how do you know if you’ve covered all your bases? What goes into a winning proposal?


Good or bad, all proposals contain a few key components. These sections may have different names depending on the type of proposal, but every proposal will address these key items:

  • Situation Analysis
  • Scope of work
  • About you
  • Expected results
  • Fees
  • Terms and Conditions

Great – you’ve got the basics. To go from basic to superior, it’s how you put the parts together that makes a difference. Let’s look at each area more closely.

Situation Analysis:  You start your proposal off with a bang by being able to define in detail what the prospect is looking for. This section is where you demonstrate your understanding of your client’s business, challenges, and goals. How well do you know your client?  Do you understand what they’re trying to accomplish? Are you familiar with what makes this prospect’s situation unique? By answering those questions in a way that shows you have heard and understood the prospect, you’re demonstrating that you care about the client and are focused on delivering value to them.

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Our Product Marketing template, for instance, puts the project overview front-and-center as an Executive Summary, giving you a fantastic start to building a winning proposal.

The scope of work: Once you’ve outlined the project overview, your next opportunity to impress a prospect is in the details – the scope of work. This is where you expand on your understanding of the prospect’s issue and the steps your company is going to take to resolve it. Get down to the nitty-gritty, but not so detailed you overwhelm the prospect with technical details they might not understand.

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For example, our WordPress Website Design Template strikes a perfect balance by outlining just the right amount of detail without being too much. It talks about the installation of the necessary software, addresses the prospect’s branding and design specifications and includes necessary training so the prospect’s in-house staff can maintain the website as an option, along with the offer of ongoing design and consulting services, if the prospect would rather not hand those duties off.

About you: Here’s where you explain why your prospect should partner with you over your competitors. Play up all the strengths of your organization and bring convincing evidence to the forefront of why a prospect should work with you. In our Product Marketing Template, as with all our proposal templates, we have placeholders for highlighting accomplishments and what sets your company apart.

Expected results: If a prospect hires your firm, what can they expect when the project’s done?  How will your results differ from the competition? Bolster your case with samples of successful work you’ve done for other clients (where non-disclosure agreements don’t prevent you from doing so). Add testimonials from past customers showing their satisfaction with your ongoing services.

Fees: Now that you’ve set out your case for why someone should work with you and your company, it’s time to get down to the cost. Everyone is concerned about the bottom line, so it’s important to make this section stand out with stylish tables that make the numbers clear and easy to understand. All our proposal templates make drafting your fees as simple as possible while providing just the information your prospects need to make the right decision.

Terms and Conditions: Wrap up your proposal the way you began, with a concise statement of your terms, such as deposits, payment terms and the like. This last section is your chance to summarize the entire proposal in an easily digestible way, and to highlight the keys that make your proposed solution the prospect’s best path forward. Our proposal templates let you set standard terms and conditions that apply to all prospects and clients, so nothing is left to chance and everything is covered.

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When you design your next proposal, take the time to include each of the sections above. To make it easier, consider using one of our pre-built templates, which already include these sections and can be customized in seconds.

Tell us, which elements do you use consistently in your proposal templates? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below. 

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