Cut Unpaid Hours with a Streamlined Proposal Process

It’s inevitable that every client project comes with unbillable hours. You have to talk to the client, assess their needs, and put together a proposal. If you’re not careful, proposals can be a real time sink. Your proposal has to do a lot of work. It has to:

  • Convince the client that you can solve their problem.
  • Get the client to accept you’re worth the cost.
  • Set parameters that protect you from scope creep.

By streamlining your proposal writing, you can saves hours on each sale and dramatically increase your overall profitability.

Cut The Fat From Proposals

A proposal is a not a project roadmap, rather it’s a landing page. It’s a landing page that will be viewed by one person and has a conversion rate of 100% or 0%. Don’t get into the weeds of planning out the entire project and sending your client a 30-page novella. Proposals like that almost never get read. Your client is trying to find answers to a few questions:

  • Will this solve my problem?
  • What exactly am I getting?
  • What is it going to cost?

Focus on answering these questions. My longest proposals are usually 2 – 3 pages in length.

Then Turn Your Lean Proposal Into a Reusable Template

There are parts of a proposal that can be re-used. Here’s my proposal formula:

  • Appraisal and Objectives: brief statement of problem the project aims to solve and the value of the solution, quantified to the best of my knowledge.
  • Requirements: Specific goals the project must meet in order to be successful.
  • Deliverables: What the client will receive. Examples include: working code, reports, or scheduled training.
  • Timing: When the project will begin and end.
  • Pricing: How much it will cost (with options).
  • Terms of Acceptance: The call to action that let’s the client know what steps they need to take to move forward. Depending on the project, this could be signing the proposal, a larger contract, or making an initial deposit.

It’s useful to have a formula for your proposals. As you’ll see, this formula is aimed at answering the primary questions of what the client is paying and what they are getting

Some of these parts will be unique for each client; for instance, Appraisal and Objectives is always personalized. However, terms of acceptance can be re-used. Here’s an example quote from my template:

Since we already have a master services agreement in place, a confirmation of accepting via email and payment of the fee is sufficient for acceptance of terms.

I have a few of those for different cases.

Next time you write a proposal, see what kind of skeleton and re-usable parts you can pull out. Find an outline that works for your projects.

Here’s a sample proposal template you can download if you want to see a more specific example:

Streamline your process further with this free proposal template