How To Write A Client Proposal
In this post you will learn:
- The 3 Most common problems with client proposals
- The only 4 things a prospective client wants to know from you
- The 7 things you MUST include in all your proposals
Are you having a hard time winning business with your agency, consulting or coaching proposals? I mean, you’re putting the effort into making them look good. You’re spending a ton of time finding the right words to use and setting your pricing at the right level but you aren’t winning the business. It’s frustrating and you’re starting to stress about it. What do you need to do to win business with your proposals?
Ok, let’s get started. This post came out of a question I get asked again and again.
I’m struggling to win new business. I don’t seem to have trouble opening the doors, but every one of my proposals seems to die on its feet.”
Well if this is you, let me tell you that you aren’t alone in this. It’s a very common problem for many coaches and consultants. You do the hard work to get your foot in the door, but as soon as your prospect reads your proposal, you get the old ‘we’ll be in touch’ door slam.
I used to find proposal writing it hard going. Should I include this or that, should I show testimonials, should I talk about previous projects, is my pricing right? You know the sort of thing.
The most common problem with proposals is that they are:
A – Used as a sales tool.
B – long
and C – full of boilerplate heavy legal text.
A lengthy proposal combined with heavy-weight legal guff is a big turn off for prospects.
Proposals are not a sales tool. They are a CLIENT ONBOARDING tool. The sale should already be done before your prospect receives the proposal.
Think of it from the prospect’s point of view. They just want to know four things: the WHY, WHAT, WHEN, and HOW MUCH.
So here’s how to write a client proposal that actually wins business.
The reason why you are submitting this proposal and the action you are expecting from the prospect.
All too often a prospect receives a proposal and drops it into their ‘manyana’ tray. So tell them the WHY.
For example, you may be expecting them to choose from the two options presented. Or you may want them to formally sign-off on a project. Or you may want to formally inform them of the fee before agreeing to proceed.
A key strategy is to include only a singe WHY. Don’t give them an a la carte menu from which to choose!
Now to the meat. I always include the following ingredients in my proposals:
1 A summary of the current situation. This may be something like:
“Website traffic is negligible and the company does not have a mechanism to generate and capture leads”
2 The Objective
This should be a confirmation of the work you have already discussed. What you will do and what the results will be for the client. You should always couple the results with benefits.
So for example,
“Design and Implement a process that will lower invoicing costs by 5% and deliver faster payments for 30% of all invoices issued.”
“Increase the number of website visitors by 10% month-on-month through targeted online advertising”
3 Your Methodology. An outline of the steps you will take in order to deliver the objective. This should include a statement on any joint accountability. So that is, the input you will need from the prospect in order to deliver the objective. This is also where you reaffirm the WHEN – the timeline for the engagement. The start date and the expected duration. Also, include any key milestones. This rarely involves creating a detailed project plan. Clients simply want a helicopter view of what to expect and by when.
4 Options. I’m not a fan of asking a client to choose from several options as this usually involves some paralysis on their part. But if you must include options, make them clear, and if possible, present one as a ‘no brainer’!
5 Credentials. Include a brief statement of why you are the right choice for this project. This isn’t your c.v. or your life story. Just a few sentences on how your experience directly matches the brief.
6 Fee and Terms. And now the HOW MUCH. State clearly how much you will charge, how frequently you will invoice and when payments are expected to be received. As I mentioned earlier, keep the legalese light. I recommend you have a lawyer put together a paragraph or two IN PLAIN ENGLISH for you to include in all your proposals.
7 Signature. Amazingly this final part is often the part that consultants and coaches forget to include! Give your prospect the opportunity to sign this off without needing another document. Send TWO copies of the proposal, both of which are pre-signed by you. Then ask the prospect to sign both, keep one for their records, and send the other copy back to you.
So there you have it, the skinny on How To Write A Consulting Proposal.
You can grab the FREE client proposal template below.
Remember, if you have a burning question on any aspect of starting a consulting or coaching business or growing an existing practice, reach out and I’ll do my best to respond.