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Ep 38: Proposals That Sell Themselves; The Easiest Way To Boost Your Closing Ratio – Ryan Shantz (Sumo Quote)

The 5 core items that exist in proposals that sell themselves
The simple key image that is most likely to impact the homeowners decision (that most quotes leave out)
The psychology behind strategically placed visuals and graphic design
Where to include social proof in your design to increase SR
New ways to make it super easy for the customer to say yes
How a better proposal allows you to scale your sales team while protecting you from liability

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Read a Summary of Episode 38

Think about the huge volume of sales opportunities you try to tap every season: if you could land even one more job out of every 10 proposals, chances are it would have a massive impact on your revenue, right?

One easy way to maximize your closing ratio is to hand potential customers a killer proposal that does a lot of the selling for you!

That’s our topic on this episode of Contractor Evolution, with our guest Ryan Shantz. Ryan is the founder of SumoQuote, a software tool designed to help contractors build engaging, client-facing proposals that stand out from the competition. SumoQuote was born after Ryan developed and implemented the ideal proposal to drive more sales in his Calgary roofing company.

The result? His retail quote closing rate shot up from 27 to 44% (translating to millions of dollars) – Yes, that’s right, Ryan is the Yoda of killer proposals.

Before we get into exactly how to build a proposal, let’s get into the why . . . 

Why The Old-School Proposal Will No Longer Cut It

Customer expectations have changed. Simple. Our tech-driven world has compelled customers to expect more from service providers, and that includes contractors. Let’s face it, while we all think we can provide a phenomenal experience, “salespeople, myself included, all kind of look the same, sound the same, even smell the same,” Ryan says.

But, at the point of sale, if you give your target client a differentiator, then wham, you stand out from your competition and the deal is sealed!

Creating a great proposal isn’t rocket science, but it does take some care and understanding of basic human psychology.

Now, are you ready to blow away your clients with a proposal that sells itself? Great!

Angus says underdogs make the best business leaders: “The athletes who said, ‘I’m gonna do this no matter what, I'm going to look for mentors and listen to them’ – they are the ones who will transition well into business. People wired to be better every day than they were yesterday are going to keep your team going.”


1. A Personalized Cover Page

The tendency is to make your business the hero of the proposal. Stop right there. The homeowner needs to be the hero of the proposal – remember they care more for their home/project than they do your business.  “The first thing you need to do is put a photo of the client’s house on the cover page,” Ryan says. Names, addresses, and even images of the homeowners themselves on the cover can create an emotional connection and evoke positive emotions.

(Book recommendation: A Story Brand by Donald Miller, is great as it explores this topic in-depth.)

2. Make It Highly Visual

A job proposal with too much text can be dull and confusing. Us humans comprehend visual content 10x faster and retain information 10x longer compared to text. Ryan says, “If you give clients a picture of something that needs to be fixed with a big red circle around it, they’ll be like, ‘Oh, that looks wrong, right?’” Then they can explain it to their spouse that evening, even if the pictures aren’t in front of them. 

3. Professional Graphic Design

To make your quote glow use expertly designed graphics – done by a true professional who really knows the trade. Don’t skimp out! “If homeowners feel like the professionalism they seek falls off a cliff at any point, they’re going to become really suspicious,” Ryan says. Don’t give them space to question whether bad graphics = bad business.

Professional-looking infographics and iconography also go a long way in reinforcing your brand in addition to the work you’re promising to deliver.

4. Social Proof

Let’s be brutally honest here: nobody cares what you have to say about yourself. They care what other people say about you. Your presentation should be awash with reviews, award citations, and certifications. “We put a certification logo on the cover to demonstrate, ‘Hey, we’re trusted by these manufacturers out there,’” Ryan says. And don’t forget your 5-star Google reviews. Then, augment all of this with a testimonials page. (For the digital version, Ryan’s company has a click option that sends you to client testimonial videos as well as a written quote).

5. Easy to Sign

This is an obvious one, but every great proposal has to be easy to sign! “At the end of the day the most important thing is to get the customer’s signature, and it must be really easy for them to do,” says Ryan. The proposal should be set up so that the customer can sign in person or remotely, and allows instant authorization of upgrades and other elements related to the job at hand. Use a simple button that says ‘review and sign here.’ You can even build in financing options so the customer can √ the one they want.

There are some less obvious advantages of a killer job proposal, too . . 

It simplifies sales scaling: A comprehensive, beautifully designed proposal makes it easier for newbie salespeople to close with confidence because all bases have been covered. It does the selling for them!

The principles can be applied elsewhere: Ryan helps contractors put together work orders that have the same visual elements as the proposal. This keeps work crews informed and in the loop. Also, everything remains on brand.

And most importantly . . .

It protects you against liability: Customers sign off on work that has been clearly communicated, not vaguely explained in a hard-to-locate email – this reduces potential conflicts down the road.

 *Be sure to include proper terms and conditions along with disclaimers in your proposal.

So, you’re probably wondering what a great proposal looks like (because a picture speaks a thousand words)! Click here for the template.

Ryan has tons of terrific information to impart in this episode, (including some amazing insights into how tech will impact sales proposals in the very near future), so if you want to close more, charge more, and save time, this episode is a must listen.

Benji Carlson

Benji Carlson

As the son of two proven entrepreneurs, Benji’s spirit for self-starting business runs deep. Since he was a young teen, Benji has been starting and running profitable small businesses; most recently culminating in a highly successful 4-year career as a franchisee with College Pro Painters. Benji’s enormous heart and passion for people is what drove him to produce over $1,000,000 in revenue while taking the highest quality care of his employees and customers. He was consistently acknowledged for having the most productive staff in the company, while leading more junior franchisees to fulfill their potential. Benji’s uncanny ability to find the right people and put them in the right place make him a natural fit for Breakthrough Academy’s Assessment Team.

Upon finishing up his career with College Pro, Benji set out on the ultimate victory lap: a nine-month transcontinental motorcycle trip from Canada to Peru.

Benji lives in beautiful Kelowna BC. During the summer you’ll usually find him on two wheels: either bombing down a trail on his mountain bike or cruising the pavement on his motorcycle. When the snow falls, he escapes to the mountains for steep and deep powder.

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