Once you’ve had an intro call or two with a potential client, you’ll want to follow-up with a proposal they can react to. This post includes how to construct one, what’s important, and sample proposals and templates you can use.
Why is this important?
You’ve had a scoping conversation with the client, and identified some of their challenges. You’ve discussed how you might add value to their business, and you’ve hit it off with them. You can feel the synergy developing, and you know you can help them.
Now what? How do you come back to them with something to ‘seal the deal’? Enter the well-developed project proposal.
The proposal is critical to showing the client that you not only understand their challenges, but also have specific steps you are uniquely qualified to take as their consultant to address them. A well-written proposal is the key bridge between a positive intro call and a rewarding and lucrative engagement.
Step 1 - Outline your qualifications and achievements
Start your proposal with your unique qualifications (education, certifications, professional degrees, etc.) and tangible achievements to support those credentials. (These are tangible achievements at companies, or side projects / companies of your own. You grew revenue by X% by doing Y. You helped onboard Z customers by doing XYZ.) This reminds your client of your ability to provide tangible value, and why you’re the perfect person for their unique challenges.
Step 2 - Show your understanding for the client’s challenges, and scope out a project that meets them, with specific projects and measurable outcomes
This section of your proposal should have two subsections:
- Problem: outline the client’s challenges, translating their vague complaints into nuanced understanding of their business’ obstacles. This not only demonstrates your insight into and understanding of what they’re going through, but also makes them feel like you “get it” and will genuinely be helpful if they bring you on.
- Deliverables: detail the specific steps and outcomes that you will deliver to them. These should be tangible so the client can really see what they’ll get from you. Further, include some metrics you’ll track to define success.
Step 3 - Communicate your rate, along with your justification and anticipated hours committed
End the proposal with an explicit estimate of the number of hours per month you’ve scoped the project to be, and an associated monthly charge you’ll bill the client. We recommend a monthly rate (vs. hourly or project-based) to ensure all incentives are aligned and no moral hazard is introduced on either end. It’s important to own this part - you are a consultant, and this is what you charge - be confident in that!
Package those three together and you’ll have a well-designed and easy-to-follow proposal for your client.