How To Create a Consulting Services Proposal
The proposal can make or break a relationship with a potential client. Essentially, it’s a sales pitch. But your business proposal should never feel like a hard sell; it should be personalized, engaging and persuasive, and it should align you and the client on the project goals and deliverables before the project starts.
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A step-by-step guide to creating a business proposal
1. Before you start
The proposal itself won’t win the client. You should only send a proposal once you’ve engaged the potential client and agreed that they have an issue or opportunity they’d like your help with. Before you get started creating a proposal, think about how you can add value to your client’s work.
- What is my brand identity? What kind of work does my consultancy do?
- What service will I be providing for this potential client?
- How do I compare to the competition?
Once you identify your value-add, get the potential client on the phone or schedule a meeting to talk about the prospect of working together in-person. This will add trust to your brand and give you the chance to plant the idea. Once it’s clear that you can add value for the client, simply ask them if you can create a proposal and give them a specific date.
Try something like this: “Since we agree on _______, why don’t I put together a proposal with options on how we can work together. I can have this ready for your review on X day. Would that work for you?”
2. Paint the Big Picture
The Overview section is an opportunity to show your client that you know your stuff. Focus on them. What you want to do here is present a problem that you know your client is facing and make a compelling case to show how your expertise will offer them a customized solution that they can’t resist. Make sure to include these three points:
- The problem – Zero in on the issues the client is currently experiencing. Do your homework and research the potential client to fully understand their mission, vision and business goals.
- Solution – Explain the solution you have in mind to help your client solve their business problems. You can provide a high-level outline here, you’ll go more into detail later on.
- Call to Action – The overview is meant to sell the client, so you should be able to convince them why hiring you will solve their problems. Reiterate how you stand out from competitors, and also why your solution is the best choice.
To end the overview section, write a concise statement explaining the problem(s) you’re trying to solve with this project and the goals you’re trying to achieve.
QUICK TIP – To successfully define your objectives:
- Make sure they are SMART objectives: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely. An example of a SMART goal could be; “Increase the average online sales by 30% within two years”
- Reconsider the overall goals of your client’s organization. Do these objectives align with the client’s mission and vision?
3. Your Approach
If you’ve hooked the client with the promise in the overview, here is where you further detail how your brand, your approach fits into this customized solution. Describe what distinguishes your unique approach. What makes your company qualified for this project? Make sure you speak to this client’s needs and show how your methods complement their team and goals.
4. Explain your process
How are you going to reach the objectives you outlined in the overview? This section is where you fully explain your process and the steps you plan to take to solve the client’s problems. There are two key things you’ll want to include in this section.
The research report works as a stepping stone for developing the client strategy. Go into detail about your methodology. Include information about how you understand your client’s target audience, position in the marketplace, strengths and weakness. Describe what data points you will look at and approach in analyzing this data. Explain how you will establish benchmarks, identify issues and craft a strategy. Showcase the tools and reports you will share with your client as a result of your research.
List out some of the key research or methods you will be using:
- Data Analysis
- Audience Segments
- Market Research
Whether you’re doing a website audit, creating a content marketing strategy or assisting the company in digital transformation, be clear about what deliverables are expected during the project. Explain the nature of the strategic documents, creative assets and other materials you will deliver to your client at the end of the project. List out deliverables, formats and requirements.
5. Define the Timeline
Time is money. Here, you’ll clearly layout how you plan to execute the project and where the resources will be allocated. Whether the project is a week long, a month or years long, you’ll want to arrange your timeline according to the length of your engagement and structure of your workflow.
A few questions to keep in mind:
- How are you kicking the project off?
- What are you achieving or delivering at each step of the process?
- Are there any important milestones to note?
- What is expected of both you and the client at each step?
6. Team & Workflow
Here, you can go into detail about the team members and resources that will be assigned to the project. Include what to expect in terms of communication, documentation, tools, and team members. Who will be involved in producing the work? What should your client expect in terms of workflow, documentation and communication?
7. Set the budget
Including your budget is a good way to be transparent about the cost of your services and helps your clients quickly determine if they can afford to work with you. Be sure to explain any potential supplementary costs, whether that’s outside tools, materials or testing.
Here are some questions to keep in mind:
- What is the total value of your services?
- Are there multiple scope options with additional costs associated?
- What would you charge to deliver on a minimal solution to their business problems?
There has been some debate in the consulting world about leaving the pricing slide out, which is an option if you want to leave the conversation about the cost until after the client has reviewed the proposal and expressed interest. If this is the way you want to go, you can always delete this section from the template.
8. Sell yourself
Here, you can explain your background and experience by sharing related case studies or testimonials. Clearly explain what you achieved in each case study and how this is applicable to the scope of this project. Add logos of bigger name companies that you’ve worked with. You can also highlight what makes your process unique with a closing statement or proposition.
9. Share your business proposal with the client
Sharing your proposals is easy. Send the live link to the proposal to keep the client instantly updated. Add password protection for confidential data. If you see a typo, no problem. Just go into the editor and make the change before the client notices! You can even turn the link into a full-scren digital slideshow to present the proposal in a meeting. Or download a PDF or PNG if you need it.
That’s a wrap!
Consultants know that almost everything is dynamic when working with clients: numbers, objectives, campaigns… Luckily, Xtensio makes it easy to repurpose and reuse your proposal. The template is adaptable just like other Xtensio tools, it can and should be repurposed, revisited, and revised to suit your evolving needs. You can always add, delete, and move your modules and sections around with Xtensio’s versatile editor to adapt the promotional plan as you need it. And you can even save your proposal as a custom template to reuse again and again!