The thought of creating a proposal for your clients is intimidating, especially if you’re just starting out and have never written one before.
Hopefully by the end of this post you’ll feel confident in creating your own proposals, and you can start winning more clients.
What’s so effective about writing proposals?
The main reason why you need to be creating proposals is it clarifies and establishes the roles and goals of the project.
The proposal acts as a roadmap, and to someone that might be unfamiliar with working with a freelancer, this can help them better understand what this type of work entails and what it’s going to cost.
Here’s a breakdown of what must be included in your proposals:
Project info: your name, client’s name, contact info, project title, and date
Goals: what’s the client looking for and how are you going to deliver on their needs?
This is your chance to demonstrate a solid understanding of what your client needs. Use this to describe how you’ll deliver a solution. Regurgitate and even quote words your client used in the questionnaire and preliminary discussions.
If you’re doing a website design or large project, then breakdown the features and solutions using bullet points to make it more digestible.
Timeline: how long will the project take to deliver?
Include “phases” and relevant milestone dates if it applies.
Also include specific deliverables and when to expect them (e.g. website wireframes after Phase 1 or logo variations upon completion.)
Cost: decide how much you’ll be paid and how you’ll be paid (How To Invoice Freelance Clients and Get Paid Online)
State your price and/or price per deliverable (e.g. $XXX per t-shirt design)
Next Steps: what does the client need to do so the project can move forward?
E.g. acceptance of the proposal, sign contract, and down payment.
Optional: you could include the contract/terms within the proposal itself. This way, the client can sign for it all at once – saving you both time.
How To Get On Big Buyers’ Shortlists
Because the initial decision-making process is so involved, big buyers will only consider partnering with you if they have a clear understanding of what you bring to the table and how it’s different from what your competitors can offer.
Providing the right level of detail is the key to making it onto coveted shortlists. That starts with knowing what these buyers are looking for in a supplier, and then ensuring that they can easily discern whether you fit the bill.
But what exactly are they looking for?
What you’re all about — Your company profile should tell buyers who you are, what you do, why you’re the superior choice, and how you benefit your clients’ operations and bottom line.
Where you are — Are you regional, national, or international? What regions do you serve? From how many locations do you deliver? Do you offer on-site support?
What industries you serve — Which industries can benefit most from your core capabilities? How have you successfully diversified into other markets?
Who you serve — While respecting any NDAs you have in place, provide a sample list of current clients for reference.
What you do — If you’re a supplier of stock or configurable products, buyers will want detailed product specs. If you’re a custom manufacturer, provide comprehensive capabilities information, machine lists, and sample project pages.
How well you do — Some large buyers will automatically write you off if you don’t disclose your annual sales, so make sure this information is readily available to them.
What you use — Provide a manufacturing equipment list so buyers know what equipment you’ll be using to meet their needs.
What you’re capable of — What capacities do your machines have? How does your warehouse system deliver products? Supplying accurate information is crucial.
How qualified you are — Providing certification and compliance information is also very important. Most large buyers insist that their suppliers have a certain level of certification and implement a thorough QC process.
Who you are — Who are the people behind your business, and what can they offer to big buyers? Make this information clear at each step of the supplier discovery and purchasing process. Offer a simple list of contact information so prospects can easily reach you.
Being able to effectively present proposals is key to your success. To be effective, get to the point and focus on vision and stories. Finally, your presentation should begin with compelling reasons to consider your proposal and culminate with a specific request for the business.