Close More Web Design Business with Winning Proposals

When you’re competing for a new web design project, what goes into your proposal? Does it address the client’s specific needs, your unique expertise and what you can do to help them? Or is it a quick menu of your standard services offerings?

Create a Winning Design Proposal

Too often, web designers and web design companies focus too much on the in-person meeting and not enough on the written proposal. However it’s the proposal—the document that stays behind after you’ve gone back to the office -- that has the power to tip the balance in your favor. It may be the only representation of your company that some decision makers see.

While the specific length and contents of a proposal will differ depending on the complexity of the web design project, there are some common guidelines you should follow.

1. Learn About the Customer

Use that first meeting to find out what the potential customer needs and how those needs match up with your services. Don’t pull out a standard presentation right away unless your company has a well-developed menu of packaged services to offer. Custom design shops need time to understand the unique requirements of the customer and then develop a set of services that would best meet those needs.

2. Invest in a Professional Presentation

Web design companies — especially the smaller ones — don’t always invest the time they should into creating professional presentations. They may rely on a good verbal sales pitch and casual outline of the proposed services to win the contract. But a well-organized, attractive proposal is critical to successful services sales. Take the time to design a template that will ensure quality proposals.

3. Be Upfront About Prices

You may think that stating a price will scare off customers. In fact, breaking down a project into a menu of services and prices reassures them that they know what they’re buying and may also prompt them to buy extra services.

4. Sell Your Skills

The presentation should have a title page followed by a ”brag sheet” or list of industry awards, major projects, important certifications, and customer testimonials to showcase your expertise. It provides tangible proof of your track record. If your firm has done a lot of work in one or two specific industries, consider creating two or three versions of the brag sheet to showcase what you know.

5. Be Clear About What Services are Included and What are Not

Otherwise clients may expect things that you hadn’t planned to provide. For instance, a customer might think photography or logo design comes with the web design package when, in fact, they’re extras. You might list those extras and their prices to encourage them to upgrade.

6. Offer a Contract

Make it easy for the prospect to say “yes” by including a ready-to-sign contract. Don’t ask the client to wait while you go back to the office to draft it. Keep the legal language brief and clear. The entire contract should be short: no more than two or three pages for most projects.

7. Provide a Timeline

The client will want to see estimated completion dates for the various parts of the project.

The end goal is to craft an attractive, easy-to-read proposal that shows how your web design firm can solve the prospective client’s unique problems, and then makes it easy for the client to close. It should have a simple structure, straightforward selling points and clear language. Five to 10 pages for a proposal geared toward a small or mid-sized client is a good length. Anything longer becomes overwhelming. Perhaps the best rule of thumb: consider what you’d want in a proposal if you were the customer.