Join veteran WordPress developer and business coach Curtis McHale for a free webinar on writing proposals that will win new work contracts.
Writing Proposals That Win Work
with Curtis McHale, veteran WordPress Developer & Business Coach
As part of this WProsper webinar, Curtis McHale gave away a copy of his “Writing Proposals that Win Work” book to someone who leaves a comment on this post about a time when you provided the most value to a client. The lucky winner has already been chosen, but you can still share your story or check out the stories in the comments.
Notes on Writing Proposals That Win Work
Most freelancers don’t do proposals very well. Curtis McHale lays out his process for creating proposals. It’s pretty straightforward and generally focused on being able to provide value for clients.
The best advice Curtis offers is to say no. If a project isn’t a good fit or the clients have nonsense demands or it just doesn’t seem like a clear win—say no.
Curtis has a strict process to prequalify who he talks to. He culls out as many prospective clients who aren’t a good fit as possible before even getting on the phone. So when he finally gets down to sending a proposal to a client, he has a very high chance of success. If your proposals are being rejected, you’re probably sending out too many proposals and need to work on your sales process.
What Is a Proposal?
A proposal is a written agreement summarizing your discussion with the buyer. That’s it. It shouldn’t be convincing them you’re awesome or pitching your services. You should have already done that.
So make sure your proposal comes at the appropriate place in your process.
Proposals Go to Buyers
One mistake freelancers often make is pitching to someone who isn’t empowered to make a decision. You want to talk to the buyer.
- The buyer thinks strategically, not tactically.
- The buyer has control of the budget.
- The buyer can knock down roadblocks.
- The buyer is the person who can say yes.
If the person you’re pitching to can’t make the final decision, then the only answer they can give is no. At best, your pitch will have to go up the ladder to the next person, and you’ll have to start over. You want to talk to the person who can say yes.
Questions You Need Answered
In order to put together a successful proposal, you need some questions answered:
- What are the problems or needs?
- Where is the value?
- Can you provide that value?
- What’s the most important result?
- Who is the project champion?
- What are the barriers?
- Who are the key influencers?
- What are the early victories?
Components of a Good Proposal
Here are the six things every successful proposal needs to have:
- Current Problem – Simply restate the issue. By the end of this section the prospect should be nodding in agreement.
- Objectives – Offer three to five high-level things that are part of the project. Focus on strategy, not tactics.
- Gauging Success – How will you know if the project is a success?
- Pricing Options – Offer three different pricing options. The first option should be the basic project. The second option is the base project plus all the client’s dreams. The third option should be something they didn’t even think about.
- Timelines – Give general guidelines for how long the project will take to complete (don’t give specific dates). Always note that timelines are dependent on having a signed contract and payment in hand.
- Accountabilities – Who’s responsible for what?
Writing Proposal Details
Here are some more nitty-gritty details, tips and ideas for your proposals:
- Curtis’ proposals are a page and half long. That’s it. No need to be lengthy.
- He has a standard template and it takes him about half an hour to create a proposal. If you’re spending hours, you’re not doing it right.
- Curtis uses 17hats to create proposals and instantly turn them into invoices.
- For contracts, Curtis uses a variation of the Contract Killer.
For more, check out Curtis McHale’s book, Writing Proposals That Win Work.
Kristen has been writing tutorials to help WordPress users since 2011. You can usually find her working on new articles for the iThemes blog or developing resources for #WPprosper. Outside of work, Kristen enjoys journaling (she’s written two books!), hiking and camping, cooking, and daily adventures with her family, hoping to live a more present life.