proposal principles


There are no two ways about it, proposals are one of the strongest tools an agency or freelancer has in their sales toolbox.

In most cases, proposals can make or break a deal with a new client. As such, they must be taken seriously as part of the sales process. Those who cut, copy and paste their way to proposal completion without any thought for the prospect will undoubtedly suffer.

In this day and age, prospects have countless options for service providers. So, if they’ve chosen to reach out to you specifically, crafting a proposal that’s unique to them is the least you can do, no matter how big or small.

That’s not to say you have to spend hours writing proposals and can’t pull data from other sources. With a decent template and structure, you will be able to fill in the blanks and send something that you can be proud to put your name and logo on, whether you win the business or not.

Being a white label PPC agency that has created over 2,500 proposals for our partners in the last few years, we like to think we know a thing or two about good practice. In this post, I’ll be covering 7 principles that you should live by when looking to close more PPC clients for you or your agency.

proposal principles prospect option

1.  Send proposals to prospects, not leads.

This sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised by how many people send a general proposal as a form of ice breaker to potential prospects. This rarely gets a response and can be quite off putting to potential prospects, as they can feel the “cookie cutter” approach a mile off.

Though sending valuable documents upfront to leads can be a very good tactic for prospecting. It’s best to send something like a relevant industry report that you’ve actually put some time and effort into researching.

Sending a proposal assumes the lead is interested in working with you and that you know what they need help with – which may be wrong in both cases. Save your proposals for those who you’ve had an initial meeting with to understand their unique situation, business, and problems.

2.  Have a well designed template.

They say that you only have one chance to make a first impression, and we all know that it’s true. Be sure that you’ve spent some time creating a branded template for your proposal documents. This template has to sell you, your ideas and build trust in your business.

Now, I’m not suggesting that you need to spend hundreds of dollars or hours looking for perfection, but a template that has a professional front cover that says who the proposal is for and who it is written by goes a very long way to creating a lasting impression.

If you’re not a design whiz, use one of the countless free design tools on the market that make it easy, such as Canva, or hire an experienced professional to skillfully design something for you.

proposal principles detail goal

3.  Send 1 to 2 days after sales conversation.

Sending a proposal too soon will look bad in most cases for the following reasons:

  • You’ll look like you’ve got nothing better to do, which implies that you have no other projects to work on and are desperate to grab this new client for the business.
  • You’ll look like you’ve spent zero time digesting the prospect’s problems and customizing your solution to their needs. This is a generalization, but is true in around 80% of cases.

That being said, leave sending a proposal for too long and the prospect is also at risk of going cold or finding another solution from a different provider. We’ve found the sweet spot to be 1 to 2 working days after the initial conversation for best results.

4.  Be specific.

In most cases, the prospect is looking for specific information that will answer any questions that they brought up in the initial meeting (and some that they aren’t even aware of yet). As you are showing expertise by giving an overview of the strategy that you recommend, you should be specific with regards to things like:

  • Detailing what’s included in the service
  • Showing the process that you’ll follow to get results
  • The investment needed for your service
  • The estimated timeline for the completion of the project. Or, if you’re providing an ongoing service, a 3-month timeline

proposal principles text testimonial

5.  Don’t be afraid of text.

Your prospects want to know how you’re going to use their investment to help them solve their problems. No amount of perfect-looking happy people in stock images will be able to explain that for you.

We’ve seen that proposals using mostly text with a few helpful screenshots do a great job of getting the point across.

So, use images as an aid that helps explain what you have written, and don’t make the mistake of thinking that adding lots of fancy images will make the difference in your proposal being accepted.

6.  Include testimonials and a closing note.

Prospects want to know that you can get things done, which your proposal must show. However, the final page of the document is your time to show a personal touch by writing a customized note. This is your chance to build trust with some credible testimonials that you have collected from previous clients.

At the end of the day, people buy from people. So, adding a bit of personality to this final page rounds off the document nicely.

proposal principles following up

7.  The follow up.

This is an obvious one, but we’ve seen many agencies fail at the first hurdle with their follow up process. Bearing in mind that 80% of sales require 5 follow-up calls after the initial meeting and 44% of sales reps give up after 1 follow-up, there is a mind-blowing amount of money being left on the table.

At this point in the process, you’ve already invested lots of resources into winning the new customer. You’ve invested time, brainpower and potentially other resources into getting this far, so the question is…

Can you really afford to not have a strict follow up process?

If there is anything on this list that you prioritize, make it your follow up process.


So, there you have our 7 proposal principals. Use this list to start thinking about where you’re currently weakest with your PPC proposals and take steps to improve them systematically and measure the performance changes.