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Agency Quote Best Practices to Win Business

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Updated on:
February 27, 2024
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There are many ways successful agencies can increase their chances of winning new business. Testimonials and reviews from existing clients create earned media you can use for demand generation. Excellent sales teams convert leads to paying clients and help close deals. However, sometimes it’s the simplest of tools or documents that can sway a client’s decision.

Documents like your quotes are a good example.

When an agency quotes for services, they have a chance to create a great first impression. They get to show a client their professionalism, brand values, and cost-effectiveness. Let’s take a look at some innovative ways to improve the agency quote creation process.

What should every quote contain?

A quote is, quite simply, a digital or physical document telling the client what they’ll have to pay. It gives a brief description of the services or products you’ll supply, how long this will take, and how much it will cost.

Quotes are important as a client may approach several agencies before deciding on their preferred option. According to Gartner, B2B buyers typically have teams of six to ten decision-makers. Each of whom only spends a maximum of 6% of their buying time speaking to individual sales reps.

This makes every point of communication with the customer vital. Quotes should contain pertinent information but also get across what differentiates you from your competitors.

Quote versus proposal

Is a quote the same as a proposal? It can be. Agencies that provide bespoke packages that change with every client may find it simpler to roll proposals and quotes into one document. However, it’s quite common for the quote to come after the proposal.

The proposal is a document detailing exactly how you, the agency, will address a client’s pain points. Marketing agencies might detail how they’ll undertake improving social media campaigns or honing a client’s content strategy. Design agencies could talk about the process they use to choose new brand colors, logo designs, or imagery for a client’s website.

The important factor is to include every detail of what the proposed contract will entail. A potential client should be able to put proposals side by side and compare the differences.

A quote, however, can be as simple as the name of a product or service and its price. Quotes are more often used when the client already knows exactly what they need. They may submit a query for specific products or services and simply want a price and a timeline.

It’s important to note that a quote should never be an estimate or a ballpark figure. The quote is either in relation to an existing proposal of services or specific services requested by the client. As such, the price is immovable once agreed. The only exceptions to this are extenuating factors like late payment charges or mutually agreed changes to the scope of the project.

Benefits of honing your agency quote practices

Creating a formal document that must contain specific information might seem like a process that doesn’t leave much room for creativity. However, it is possible to personalize quotes and combine the accuracy highlighted above with branding, company voice, and even your agency’s values.

Here are just a few of the benefits you gain by taking the time to do so.

Create a good first impression

While your agency quotes might not be the first time you’ve interacted with a lead, they’re certainly close to the start of the relationship. A visually pleasing, on-brand quote is likely to impress a client and make them want to work with you. Conversely, a blunt, text-only email might make a client think that your agency doesn’t value them very much.

Consider keeping language light, on-brand, and friendly to encourage further interaction.

Appear professional

Great branding does more than present you as a keen and caring prospect for the client. It makes you appear professional, reliable, and ready to take on the challenges associated with this client. Leads are looking for the right agency among potentially thousands and often have to take a risk on an unknown entity. A professional yet approachable demeanor can make a potential client more likely to take that leap of faith.

Reflect your agency’s values

Another way you can connect with prospective customers is by ensuring your agency quotes and other documents are driven by your corporate values. If you value inclusivity, avoid gendered language or assumptions based on age or race. Your key focus might be sustainability, in which case you could put a note on the quote about preferring digital storage to physical documents.

Whatever your values, make sure your quotes reflect them. You’ll naturally attract customers with the same values which can build the foundation for lasting agency-client relationships.

Open clear channels of communication

You might be surprised to learn that these relationships can blossom whether your quote is accepted or not. Just because a lead decides to go with another agency this time doesn’t mean they won’t consider you in the future. Your sales team has no way of knowing how difficult the decision-maker found it to choose between two (or more) great agencies.

Keep that in mind and try not to be despondent about lost leads. Make sure every quote includes ways to contact you in the future. It’s a good idea to include a couple of contact names and their direct details. We also recommend including your agency’s website. As many as 86% of B2B companies say they get most business via their website, so ensuring clients can access yours is vital.

Factors that determine how much you quote

Now we’ve looked at the “why” of agency quotes, it’s time to delve into the “how.” It’s important to ensure all your costs are covered by the prices you provide. Take a look at the following points and consider if you’re taking them into account during quote creation.

Overheads

Your clients keep a roof over your head — literally. Make sure the prices you quote for services are competitive but still enough to cover rent, utilities, and other business expenses. You can utilize bookkeeping software like Bonsai to keep track of your finances. Get a deeper understanding of your business expenses and use that detail combined with market trends to drive your pricing.

Paying all involved employees

If your quote covers the costs of all your in-house employees but not your freelancers, you could end up in a sticky situation. You might have to pay your freelancers using some of the budget from another area of your business. Alternatively, you might not be able to pay them at all. This could lead to talented freelancers refusing to work with your agency again. Worse, they may badmouth your company online and encourage other contractors to avoid your team.

Work with your accounting team to ensure the prices you’re quoting cover the paychecks of everyone involved.

Time to complete

The longer a project takes to complete, the more a client should pay — in most cases. Quotes that show the time it will take to finish particular tasks could encourage the closure of a deal. A client can use that information to plan their other projects and see where your work fits in. For example, if they know you can complete a rebranding exercise before their next conference, they could plan a relaunch. Support your potential new clients by providing any information that may be useful to them.

7 ways to improve your agency quote creation processes

Once you’ve got your pricing strategy in hand, it’s time to think about actually creating a quote. We’ve pulled together seven factors to consider for all agency quotes and proposals.

1. Be visually bold

Visuals and imagery are vital for grabbing your potential client’s attention. Science tells us that our brains process an image up to 60,000 faster than text. You can use this knowledge to open your quote with a striking logo, diagram, or even a quick animation.

Whatever visuals you use, remember to consider accessibility. Flashing images can cause issues for some people and are generally best avoided. All static images should ideally include alt text — a short description of the image that makes it accessible to anyone using a screen reader.

2. Utilize existing templates

Quote and proposal templates are incredibly useful for agencies improving their existing processes or building new ones. Bonsai offers an impressive catalog of quote templates that agencies can adjust to their needs. These templates include designs for social media marketing quotes, software development quotes, video production quotes, and many more. Bonsai works with numerous agencies so there’s the peace of mind that these templates are already in use and seeing success.

3. Include clearly defined timescales

Peace of mind is something your clients want, too. You can help provide that by quoting realistic timescales that don’t over-promise. Avoid the temptation to say you’ll get something done in a week if you know it will take ten days. That will lead to either burnout for your employees or a dissatisfied client — or both.

Consider including a timeline of the project, something you can track using your agency business software. If you’re unsure how long a bespoke task will take, be upfront about that. Clients generally prefer a clear and honest time range to a set date that might actually be fictional.

It’s also important to let your potential client know exactly how long each quote is valid for. An apparent time-limited offer could drive a positive decision. FOMO (fear of missing out) is a very real factor in business. Marketers use it throughout all types of campaigns. It’s perfectly acceptable to utilize a similar strategy with your quotes or proposals.

4. Provide a way to digitally agree

The ability to close a deal quickly is a major driver of new business. As well as providing a limited time window, consider creating digital quotes with “Accept Now” buttons. Other options here include an e-signature box or even a “Next Steps” page that provides the potential client with various options. These may include requesting more information as well as immediate acceptance. Your sales and marketing teams should be able to provide advice here. They’ll have a good sense as to whether the lead is a firm or dubious prospect.

If you do include an “Accept Now” button, make sure there is also a link to any relevant terms and conditions such as payment timescales. You could include a sentence encouraging the reader to view these before accepting. This helps convey the fact that you and your agency are open and trustworthy.

5. Include a link to relevant content

If you have a blog post or video that details the exact process or services you’re quoting for, consider including the link in the quote. B2B decision-makers largely say that they’re more likely to buy from a vendor after consuming their content. In fact, 52% will definitely consider a provider more keenly if they’ve read some of their content online.

Instructional videos, Instagram Reels, or even testimonials from existing clients could all help sway a prospect’s decision. If your content is polished and well-shared, this reinforces your image as accomplished and professional. Pick your best content that showcases your abilities to their fullest.

6. A/B test your agency quotes

A/B testing in this context means trying out two slightly different quotes and seeing which works best. During A/B testing (also known as split testing), only change one attribute of the agency quote at a time. That way, you can be sure which factor is causing an increase in business uptake — or a decline.

All A/B testing should start with a well-defined goal. For agency quotes, this could be simply to improve acceptance rates. You might want to start with small increases, such as 5% over a period of three months. Any goal you set should fall in line with your agency’s overarching goals. Note that you may need to engage leaders from other areas of your business to get the full picture here.

The next step is to determine how you’ll measure that success. For quotes, it’s pretty simple: You take note of the acceptance rate now and what it is at the end of the defined period.

Use experts within your team to consider changes that might be positive. You could even use the above tips to help you here. Could your quotes be more visual? Is the language overly complex? Decide as a team on one change you want to make that could drive more business.

Once you’ve decided how you’ll change your quotes, you need to make a plan for comparison. Decide how many clients you’ll send each version of the quote to. Using both versions of the quote document in tandem helps eliminate other factors. For example, if both quotes show an increased acceptance rate, that’s probably a market fluctuation. Alternatively, it could indicate an improvement in overall brand recognition. That’s good news on either count but inconclusive in terms of A/B testing.

Finally, collect your data and review your results. If the new version of the quote clearly shows an improved acceptance rate, celebrate, and make it permanent. You can continue this process at any time with any other aspect of your quotes.

7. Include the option to take a down payment

This is optional as your agency might not take deposits or down payments. However, if you do, see if you can include a way to do this on your digital quotes. A button that allows new clients to make a payment by card, PayPal, Stripe, or other digital methods helps seal the deal quickly.

Have a breakdown in your quote of what percentage the down payment is of the total amount and why it’s required. It should go without saying that this should have been discussed with the lead at some point during the sales process. This ensures that the potential new customer doesn’t get a shock when you suddenly ask them to pay an amount they weren’t expecting.

If you design your quotes to allow a customer to pay immediately, you might also consider giving additional information. This may include how long payments take to process, currencies accepted, and what to do if they want to use an alternative payment method.

Make agency quotes and client communication simpler with the right software

Sourcing the best templates for your agency quotes is simpler when you have an all-in-one agency software package. Forget flipping from screen to screen and trying to figure out where all your client-specific data is held. Working across multiple platforms is time-consuming for you and causes delays for your clients. Bringing everything together in a single, unified platform streamlines your processes.

Bonsai is a quote and proposal solution combined with a financial platform, an advanced CRM, and scheduling software to name just a few features. Better still, it’s intuitive and easy to navigate, empowering your agency to simplify life for your clients.

Business development specialists expect 2024 to be a highly competitive year for agencies. Finding ways to stand out from the crowd and dominate markets is a priority for competitive firms. Hone your agency quote creation process and you could experience a surge of new business. For more information, contact Bonsai or click here to start a free trial.

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