Phrases for Creating Persuasive Proposals and Estimates That Win New Business

January 9, 2019


You’re just a few phrases away from attracting new clients with a stellar proposal and estimate.

If your goal is to write a killer business proposal or sales agreement that can’t be turned down, you probably spent a good amount of time looking into the logistics.

It’s undoubtedly important to know how to structure a sales document, understand all the sections you should include and so on—but this isn’t the only important part.

Equally important? Using language to your advantage. Sure, you could just keep it basic and to the point, but you have the opportunity to not only get your message across, but do it in a way that is so persuasive, it will be impossible to turn down.

Here are important things to keep in mind that will make your proposals and contracts as persuasive as possible, along with some simple phrases you can add to help take it to the next level.

Create an Emotional Response

Language is a powerful tool. When you construct a message, it’s not just about getting your point across, but how someone feels when they read it.

Think about advertisements that have provoked an emotional response; what about it resonated with you? What kind of language did the ad use? Think about why you felt the way you felt and how you can create a response with your service offering.

From another angle, think about your prospective client’s pain points. What emotions do they feel associated with them? Does it make them feel frustrated because they aren’t able to do work as efficiently as they’d like?

Knowing what emotions your client is feeling can help you when you write your proposal, as you can frame your service offering as the antidote to these negative emotions.

Phrases to Consider to Make Your Sales Documents More Persuasive

  • “X will have a powerful impact on Y”
  • “X will make your business appear noticeably more successful”
  • “X is proven to increase Y within businesses like yours”

Note: Unlike other examples on this list, this is the type of language that will depend specifically on the service you offer. So, start by thinking about what emotions you want to evoke, and make sure to check out lists of high emotion words, and work some of them into your proposal.

Focus on the Time Your Prospective Client Will Save

We all respond to time-based claims—and there’s something very powerful about telling someone how much time you’ll be able to save them.

Think about it:

Would you be more interested would you be in an article that promises to show you a complete full-body workout that you can accomplish in exactly 15 minutes, or an article that promises a quick full-body workout?

The former is much more specific; you know that it will only take you 15 minutes. With the latter, quick sounds good, but “quick” to the writer might not mean quick to you.

So, when writing your proposal to a new client, consider discussing how much time you’ll save them. Will the work you’re doing make it possible for them to attract new clients twice as fast? Will you be able to shave hours spent on administrative work off of their work week?

It’s also worth noting that consumers, in general, respond better to time savings than monetary savings, so focusing on the time savings you can provide may actually serve you better than spending time detailing money saved. It may also enable you to avoid lowballing clients, as clients are willing to pay more for the promise of saved time.

Persuasive Examples Focused on Time

  • “Save you [amount of time daily/weekly/monthly]”
  • “Make it X as fast to do Y”
  • “Speed up the rate at which you do X by Y percent”

Use the Persuasiveness of Percentages

Building on the last phrase mentioned above, percentages are powerful. We respond much more strongly to an advertisement stating that something is half off, for example, than we do if something is simply listed at a lower price.

It has been found that customers are more likely to be responsive to larger percentage savings than smaller ones (i.e. 50 percent off versus 5 percent off), even when the amount saved is the same. Here again, note that a focus on money is less impactful; focus your language instead on the percentages that come into play if your prospective client uses your product or service.

For example, will your offering help them close 50 percent more deals? Say so! Will it increase the efficiency by which they do a certain task by 25 percent? This would make a great inclusion. Don’t forget to focus on larger percentage savings if possible, too—even if the ultimate dollar amount saved is the same, if you mention the high percentage, you will be more likely to win the new client.

Persuasive Examples Using Percentages

“Allow you to do [X work] [Y percent] more efficiently”
“Help your business [close deals/make sales/applicable variable] [X percent] more quickly”
“Make it so that you can finish X Y percent faster”

Create a Curiosity Gap

Your potential clients are human; even if they are not an easy sell, they aren’t immune to having their curiosity piqued by the right language.

To tap into this, consider framing your service offering as though you have a secret that you’re willing to share. The reality is, you probably do have some inside information that will make a potential client’s ears perk up.

What do you know about your industry, and the value of the work that you do that your client might not know? Is your offering a major factor when it comes to how customers see a business? Has new research emerged that shows businesses who use your type of service are pulling away from the competition?

Find these little snippets of intrigue, and dole them out within your proposal or sales agreement. You will make readers curious to find out the answer, and position yourself as a person of authority.

Note that it’s very easy to go overboard here and come off as cheesy or overly sales-y, so approach this tactic with a light hand.

Persuasive Examples Using Curiosity

  • “Did you know that…”
  • “Do you know what most customers think about X?”
  • “Here’s something many business owners don’t know/understand/think about”

More Phrases to Add to Your List

Above, we covered a variety of ways that you can frame your proposal to be more persuasive. By adding percentages, talking about time saved, creating an emotional response and appealing to curiosity, you can structure your next proposal to be more persuasive. Even legal agreements and contracts can benefit from thoughtfully adding the right words next to important terms.

However, those areas aren’t the only ways you can use language to be persuasive. Here are some general persuasive factors that will help strengthen your sales documents and make them easier for clients to say yes:

  • Appeal to industry experts: Who is respected in your industry, or in the industry of your prospective client? What thought leadership can you leverage in your agreement?
    • “[X thought leader] says the most important thing a business can have is [Y service offering].”
  • Leverage your position and experience: Share your expertise with your prospective client—don’t be afraid to brag a little!
    • “I have been in this industry for X years, and have helped Y businesses increase their earnings by Z percent.”
  • Create a sense of urgency: This can either be around the fact that your client should act fast when it comes to hiring someone to do the work you offer, or you can frame your offering as time-sensitive.
    • “Businesses that put off [X service offering—for example, updating their logo, having a mobile-responsive website, etc.] are losing customers rapidly.”
    • “I am offering [some great package deal or another enticing service] for a limited time only.”
  • Give credit where it’s due: Focus on the expertise and acumen of your potential client, and make a case for why someone in their position would be making a mistake to avoid hiring for the work you do.
    • “As a respected leader in your industry, you know the importance of X.”
  • Offer social proof: Showing that other similar businesses have taken advantage of the type of work is a powerful persuasive tool—and bonus points if you have actually worked with a competitor.
    • “[X percentage] of businesses in your industry have started implementing [Y solution].”

At the end of the day, there are endless ways that you can make your sales document more persuasive—but it’s important to have a plan from the start. Sticking to the basics is fine, but by adding persuasive language to your proposals and sales agreements, you will be able to stand out from the crowd and create an offer that is difficult to say no to.


about the author

Bidsketch is a Florida-based software company that helps its customers win billions of dollars in new business by providing professional looking proposal templates.