Proposal Design Matters

A businessperson working on a proposal at her laptop

Put yours to work for your business.

It’s your last impression before your lead turns into a customer, you hope.

It’s also the best opportunity to show them that you heard them, you understood their needs, and that your solution or service is best option for them. When it comes to closing the deal, the proposal design matters more than you may think.

It’s easy to get caught up thinking that the customer has already made up their mind, but you might not be the only contender. If you have the right tools, it takes very little effort to put forward a proposal that looks good enough to seal the deal.

The Anatomy of a Good Proposal

A well-designed proposal is easy to read, leaving no question of the work being proposed and the associated cost and timeline. It anticipates all of the typical questions the recipient will ask, and answers them as succinctly as possible. At a minimum, a good proposal is intentional when it comes to the following components.

Project Details

Price: More often than not, the first piece of information your lead is going to look for is the total amount of the sale, so make it easy to find. Clearly distinguished the total out-of-pocket from any available discounts and rebates. Include your payment terms, avoiding ambiguous terms like semiweekly and bimonthly. Some organizations will need special payment terms based on their payout process, so this is a great opportunity to work that out.

Scope: This document sets the tone for expectations on the project. To do that well, clearly define the scope of work with enough detail to provide context while being as concise as possible. This can vary in length from several paragraphs to several pages with diagrams, depending on the situation. Identify uncertainty and risks associated with the project up front, to make the best possible effort to prepare the customer and prevent unpleasant surprises.

Timeline: Whether it’s a single day or a year-long project, call out what you know when it comes to the project timeline. Even if it seems obvious, it’s possible that your contact will be getting approval from someone else and this is one of the items experienced managers look for on a proposal.

Presentation Design

A clean design with thoughtful content layout will go a long way with any prospect. Put yourself in their position and look at your proposal with a different lens, or get feedback from your network. Use neutral, modern fonts and color schemes to send the message that details matter to you and add a bit of subtle appeal.

Ultimately, you know your sales lead best. If you can make small adjustments to help them find the information that’s most important to their business, it may be worth the extra effort to help close the deal.

Once you get your proposal design dialed in, you’ll know it’s working because you’ll hear about it from your customers. They’ve seen what’s out there, and it’s definitely worth asking them for feedback whether they chose to go with you or not.

Call to Action

Make it easy for your lead to say “yes” to get the project rolling. Presenting too many scenarios or options can overcomplicate and ultimately sour the deal. Make your favorite outcome is the easiest one for them to approve.

Whether you’re asking for a signature or a follow-up meeting, take extra care to make the next steps clear, concise, and easy to identify. Whenever possible, present the proposal in person or on a video call to ensure the communication comes across smoothly and answer timely questions that may be barriers to approval.

Adapting to Feedback

If you start to notice a theme to the questions you receive about your proposals, take note. Though you’ll never be able to anticipate every question, repeat questions are clear opportunities to improve.

Start planning now to make improvements during your next slow sales season and turn your proposal design into a competitive advantage.


If you are looking for a better way to build great proposals, check out our free demo.