I’ve invited Meryl Snow to help us improve our proposal process. With 30 years of experience owning event planning, high-end catering, and design and décor companies, Meryl Snow is on a mission to help businesses get on their own path to success. As a Senior Consultant & Sales Trainer for SnowStorm Solutions, Meryl travels throughout North America training clients in the areas of sales, marketing, design, and branding. As a valued member of the Wedding Industry Speakers, she speaks with groups from the heart with warmth and knowledge and covers the funny side of life and business.

First impressions are everything and, in the events industry, that’s typically done through your initial proposal. When pitching to a prospective client, your proposal is your best sales tool and can either make it or break it.

Consider that couples in the throes of planning are often reviewing proposals from several vendors at once. That is to say that when you lose a sale, you are essentially giving up a client to a competitor.

If you notice your sales declining, it might be time to take a second look at the proposals you’re sending out. Here are a few reasons your proposals might me losing revenue for your business.

It’s not informed.

The first step in writing the winning proposal involves having a conversation with the client or doing your research to find out what they hope to accomplish with their upcoming event. A proposal is the most client-centric document that your company can create, so each bid must be designed to suit each client’s needs.

Regardless of your industry, follow a simple and cohesive structure including (but not limited to) the cover page, your credentials, a summary of the client’s needs, the proposed services, and your pricing. If you don’t already have a proposal template, create one as soon as possible. You’ll still want to take the time to personalize it to their needs, but it will take out a lot of legwork in structuring and writing the content. 

Ensure that you provide your full contact information on each page so the client can contact you again. Too often, the client prints all of their proposals and, if your info isn’t on each page, it will get lost in the shuffle.

It’s not custom.

Planning a wedding is a very intimate experience and couples want to work with professionals that will make them feel special from start to finish. Your proposal is the very first piece of the client experience, so take some time to tailor it towards each prospect and their event vision.

Get creative and add some pizazz throughout to show them how much you care. Instead of naming it “Jack and Jill’s Proposal,” title it with a description of their dream wedding — think “Jack and Jill’s Winter Wonderland Wedding” or “Jack and Jill’s NYC Extravaganza.” The small details go a long way in connecting with a couple.

It’s disorganized.

If a prospective client can’t make heads or tails of what you’re trying to sell, you can bet your proposal is going right into the trash. Be clear and concise in your descriptions of services and get to the point with pricing. Don’t beat around the bush — transparency is key in sales.

Ensure that your proposal is well-structured and easy to read. Include a table of contents that points them to the main sections so they can jump to pricing if they want. Avoid using walls of text; instead, break it down into easily digestible chunks. Better yet, break up your text with images for inspiration to really drive your vision home.

A proposal is only one part of the sales game, so you’ll still need to practice your communication skills and work on your pitch. However, a solid proposal is a great way to reel your prospective customers in and set the stage for a highly successful relationship.