Over the years, I had developed what I thought was a fairly slick proposal template for my search engine optimization business. But still the document lacked an edge. I knew I had lost a couple of recent pitches to my competitors and I wondered if there was something about their proposals that I was missing in mine.
You know that a good proposal can make or break a sale. This is particularly the case when your only communication with potential clients is via the Internet. But how do you know you've covered all the important aspects of your services? How can you be sure you've covered all project estimates? What if you need to include some legal contract information in your document but you can't afford to hire a lawyer? How do you make your proposal stand out from your competitors if you don't have any graphic design skills? Are you forgetting an important section in your proposal that your potential client was expecting? I found myself asking all these questions when preparing quotations for potential clients.
The banner ad from Proposal Kit offered a solution to my problem. It advertised "Turn-key contract, estimating and proposal kits for today's Internet professional". That's exactly what I was looking for, so I clicked on the banner ad, fully expecting to find some ultra-hyped, over-rated, disappointing backyard software. Boy was I wrong!
What I found was probably the most cost-effective and useful tool for online business that I have EVER come across. Seriously!
Proposal Kit takes the guesswork out of drafting a proposal or contract. It automates the chore of putting together a complex business proposal. Basically, Proposal Kit provides a comprehensive range of templates to suit any business requirement and helps you build a framework for your proposal to match virtually any product or service offering. You then flesh out the templates with your own data and contact details. Templates are particularly suited to online businesses and include documents for the initial sales pitch, the planning stage, estimating, contracting, project timelines, analysis and even invoicing.
Want to include a Cost/Benefits analysis in your proposal? How about a Production Schedule or a Web Site Design Storyboard? With Proposal Kit, you have a huge range of professional documents available within instant reach to make up your perfect Proposal, tailored specifically for each client. You can even choose a colour scheme or graphic design theme to match your corporate image or that of your client. The style you see in the screenshots on this page is just one of hundreds of different styles available.
But Proposal Kit is not just about creating "knock 'em dead" proposals. Use the included Contract Pack and you have access to legal binding contracts, sign off forms, copyright agreements and more. Find a web site stealing your content? Use Contract Pack's "Cease and Desist" letter template to draft your response. Want to provide users of your software with a easy way to report bugs? Use Contract Pack's Bug Report Template. Once I read the Quick Start Guide, it took me less than 5 minutes using Proposal Kit Wizard to set up a sophisticated Master Proposal framework to suit my business, incorporating 31 different templates from the recommended list.
Here's a summary of the different products Proposal Kit offers
Proposal Kit Professional is a bundle of several products, including the most commonly used packages. Each collection (proposal, contact, estimate, planning, samples) can be purchased separately, or together in a bundle at a lower cost. These are designed specifically for IT, software, web, CD-ROM/DVD, multimedia and tech professionals. The Professional version suits companies with larger projects and a wider range of specialized areas.
Proposal Packs contain an extensive collection of templates designed for general business use (both tech and non-tech) by any company selling a product and/or service to another company. Use Proposal Packs by themselves or as add-on graphic styles with Proposal Kit.
Sample Proposals include examples of finished proposals. Samples illustrate how proposals have been created using various Proposal Pack styles. Sample Proposals are already included in every Proposal Pack and Proposal Kit.
Contract Pack is a large collection of contract and agreement documents for web, CD-ROM/DVD, software, computer, multimedia, photography and other computer software and hardware related work. Contract Pack is available in a stripped down "starter" version (Web Freelancer) and a complete version (Professional). Contract Packs are included in the Proposal Kit Professional bundle.
Proposal Pack Wizard is an optional add-on software interface for use with Proposal Kit templates. Proposal Pack Wizard must be used with a Proposal Kit and/or one or more Proposal Packs. Proposal Pack Wizard works as a Word Macro, automating common tasks that are usually performed manually using the proposal templates. Drag and drop your chosen templates into your Proposal Master document or simply merge them from multiple docs to create your final Proposal, ready to send. Use the Mail Merge feature to integrate your client's details. Add an attractive border or a custom logo or graphic using the global replace tool. Automatically create a Table of Contents and page numbering based on your merged document.
I've only touched on the products here, but plenty more information is available on the web site.
Proposal Kit supports many platforms including Windows, Mac, Linux and word processors including Microsoft Word, OpenOffice, StarOffice, Word Perfect, Google Docs, iWork, Pages and Appleworks. The only negative aspect of the product (and it's not actually a negative, just a necessary restriction) is that the legal contracts in the Contract Pack should not be viewed as binding legal documents (without first having them reviewed by your own attorney). Because every business has different products, services, clients and operates in different geographical environments, legal requirements vary widely. By all means use the contract templates to draft your contract, but make sure you have the document carefully reviewed by your company law firm to ensure it meets your specific legal requirements. This is emphasized within the templates.
Proposal Kit was originally created as an in-house tool in 1997 and has been available as a product since 1999, Proposal Packs were introduced in 2002 and the Proposal Pack Wizard was released in 2004. Developers of the product, Proposal Kit, Inc., claim that Proposal Kit has customers world-wide, primarily in the US, Canada, UK and Australia. A large number of customer testimonials for Proposal Kit are viewable from here and I can understand their enthusiasm.
I was so excited by my discovery of Proposal Kit that I immediately wrote to the company asking permission to write a review and share my excitement with my newsletter and web log subscribers. Here's an extract from my gushing e-mail to them:
"The huge range of proposal and international contract templates offered on your site seem to be ideal for persons in my industry - what a delight to find them! I would love the opportunity to tell my readers and SEM colleagues all about your products".
So am I still excited? Absolutely. I've created a new Master Proposal, incorporating some of the professional templates such as Company History, Non-Disclosure Agreement, Production Schedule, Cost/Benefits Analysis, Testimonials and List of Acronyms into my client proposals. I was so impressed that I've even become a Proposal Kit affiliate. Judging by the feedback I'm receiving, the use of Proposal Kit has already made a huge improvement in the quality and impact my proposals have on potential clients.
So if you run an Internet-based business and want to more accurately quote your projects, impress your clients, brand yourself as a top professional and close the sale, I highly recommend you check out Proposal Kit. Just don't tell my competitors about it!
Copyright © Kalena Jordan / CEO of Web Rank. All rights reserved under U.S. and international law. Kalena was one of the first search engine optimization experts in Australasia and is well known and respected in her field. For more of her articles on search engine ranking and online marketing, please visit www.high-search-engine-ranking.com