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The WINNING Consulting Proposal Template (& 7 Proposal Writing Tips)

Wondering how to write a consulting proposal? Want to use a consulting proposal template that increases your chance of winning the business?

Here’s what most consultants — especially newer ones — don’t know…

The consulting proposal is misunderstood. Consultants believe they understand what a proposal ‘should’ be…yet their idea of one is ineffective and results in losing the business they’re after.

Watch the video below to learn about the 2 BIGGEST mistakes consultants make with their proposals:

To help bridge this gap, I’ve provided our winning consulting proposal template to make your consulting proposals more effective. Additionally, I’ve included 7 key-tops to leverage and use this template to win more consulting business.

You don’t need dozens of consulting proposal templates — you just need one that works.

The Consulting Proposal Template Used By 6 & 7-Figure Consultants

This simple structure and approach have been proven year after year to work with consultants in all industries all around the world.

Here’s a Google doc containing the consulting proposal template.

winning consulting proposal template doc
Click here to use the consulting proposal template

(Learn how consultants like Tony Ruffine, Sam Schutte, and Mike Gammarino have increased their consulting revenues by 60% or more on our Consulting Case Studies page)

Below, I’ll teach you how to write it — with some examples and best practices.

Information & Title

At the top of your consulting proposal template, write…

  • The date you’re sending the proposal
  • The client’s name, their company name, and their address
  • “Dear {Client Name}:”
  • The title of your consulting agreement

Project Overview

In this section, give a high-level overview of the project. Summarize the challenge and opportunity your client faces. Set the stage as a recap of your prior conversations and the project you’ve discussed with them.

Goals

In this section, write a list of 5-7 bullets which describe your client’s goals from the project. You should learn about their goals in your value-based, meaningful conversation.

Example: Decrease cost-per-lead while maintaining lead quality.

Success Metrics

In this section, write the result achieving these goals will create for their organization.

Example: Your sales team will be able to spend 10 minutes a day updating the sales database as opposed to 45 minutes.

Return on Investment

In this section, write the predicated ROI for the client as a result of the project.

Example: The number of new leads will increase and will provide you with $830K in new business within the next 12-18 months.

Options

In this section, write out 3 options for your client to deliver their desired results.

Responsibilities

In this section, list what you and your company are responsible for during the engagement, and what your client and their company are responsible for.

Guarantee

In this section, write your guarantee for the project and/or results.

Terms

In this section, write the project’s start and completion date. Include your payment terms.

Signature

In this section, write the date that you’re sending the proposal. Then, include the name of your company, your name, and your role at your company. Include a space for you to sign. Insert the same information for your client — and include a space for them to sign it as well.

Now, I’ll provide 7 extra proposal writing tips to make it effective for your business.

You’ll learn how to write a consulting proposal that gets your client to respond fast and close the deal.

1. Don’t Count On Your Consulting Proposal

The consulting proposal isn’t meant to win the business. The business should have already been won before sending the proposal.

Remember that. It’s an important distinction.

Now, before you want to shoot the messenger, let’s be clear. Until the buyer signs an agreement (or proposal) you haven’t won the business. But the role of your proposal isn’t to close the deal.

You should only be sending a proposal to a buyer once you’ve engaged in a sales conversation with them and they’ve given you the go-ahead. They’ve agreed that they do have an issue or opportunity that they’d like your help with.

Before sending them a proposal and once it’s clear that you can add significant value to the buyer you simply ask…

“Great, since we agree on TOPIC, why don’t I put together a proposal for you with some options of how we can work together and I’ll send it over for you to review on X day. Does that work for you?”

If they say “No” or hesitate, you need to dig deeper into the problem or opportunity until they are ready to move forward. Only after they’ve given you this verbal agreement should offer to write a proposal and send it.

Many consultants jump at the chance to send a proposal to a buyer that isn’t sold on hiring them. They wonder why they ‘lose’ so many opportunities. It’s because they never reached a verbal agreement before sending the proposal. The opportunity they thought they had simply didn’t exist.

2. Focus On The Buyer, Not Your Business

Resist the urge to tell the buyer about your company in the proposal. This isn’t the place for it. They should already know about your company from prior conversations.

winning consulting proposal

Your consulting proposal is about your buyer and their business, not yours. Don’t tell them how long you’ve been in business and that you have this and that.

Instead, use the opening of your proposal to re-establish the opportunity and challenge that you previously discussed with the buyer. This opening (think executive summary) confirms for the buyer that you understand their business and situation — and that you know how to get them from where they are now to where they want to be.

3. Keep Your Proposal Short

A proposal is not an RFP. I don’t know any buyer that wants to receive a 30+ page proposal when they can simply get a 2-3 page one.

If your proposals are over three pages, take a close look at what you’re including in them.

You want to get a signed proposal in the shortest time possible. Keep your language clear and simple in a short proposal.

I’ve won $100,000+ projects with a two-page proposal. Most consultants I work with and coach in the Clarity Coaching Program do the same.

Longer proposals provide no extra value. They tend to talk more about YOU than they do about the buyer.

And remember, the proposal isn’t meant to win the business. You should have already achieved a verbal agreement from the client before submitting the proposal.

The only reason you’d need to go much beyond 2-3 pages is that you’re trying to provide new information and to ‘win’ the project. If that’s you, stop. It’s unlikely to offer any great benefit to your business.

4. Don’t Include New Information

Confusion leads to inaction.

If your buyer is confused and if anything is unclear they won’t sign your proposal. That’s why you don’t want to introduce any new information in the proposal. Keep the content focused on the discussion that you had with the buyer.

Anytime you want to add information that wasn’t discussed previously, stop and ask yourself: “Is there value for my buyer to see this in the proposal now? ” and “Is this really necessary to include?”

If not, cut it.

Should you choose to include new information make sure it is positive.

For example: listing all the benefits they should expect as a result of implementing your recommendations. They should have learned this during your sales conversations — but it’s a good practice to repeat this during your proposal.

5. Include The ROI At The Front

Want to make your consulting proposal so compelling that your buyer signs it ASAP?

Then give them a compelling reason to.

One of the best ways to do that is to show them how their investment will provide them with a significant return.

Demonstrating value and ROI in your proposal is critical.

The other day I was speaking with a consultant in the Clarity Coaching Program, and she was going to submit a proposal to a client for $60,000. She felt confident she’d win the business.

She asked for my feedback — and after reviewing her situation I uncovered that she was creating significantly more value than she thought. She could establish her fee at $200,000 to $250,000 and still give her client an extraordinary return.

The ROI you provide should be so great that your buyer has no qualms over your fee.

6. In Vs Out: Show What They’ll Get, Now What You’ll Do

As I wrote about in Clients Want “Out”, Not “In”, clients don’t want to hear all about what you’re going to do (inputs). They want to know what the end result will be (outputs).

If you’re spending too much time in your proposal talking about everything you’re going to do (or worse: how you’re going to do it) you’re missing the point.

Use your proposal to show what your client is going to get out of the engagement.

  • What can they expect?
  • What will the results be?
  • How will it benefit their business?

These are the types of questions your buyer will ask themselves. Take this chance to answer those questions for them again in the proposal. Do that, and they’ll be confident they are making the right decision.

7. Consulting Proposals Aren’t For Lawyers

“The company hereby employs the consultant to perform the following services in accordance with the terms and conditions set forth…”

Yuck!

Seriously, that’s not how you talk…right?

That’s not how most buyers talk either. Unless your goal is to confuse your client with jargon and legalese, keep the legal terms and lawyer-talk out of your proposal.

It doesn’t add anything except make your buyer feel like they should send your proposal to their lawyer for feedback before they sign it.

That’s not what you want.

If your goal is to receive a signed proposal in the shortest time possible, keep your language clear and simple.

Don’t be lured into using some online legal form as a template for your proposal. Using any copy-and-paste “consulting proposal” is very different from writing an effective consulting proposal.

The latter works. The former will only create more issues.

Get Expert Help With Your Consulting Proposals (Triple Your Win-Rate)

Looking for more detailed training to master the consulting proposal? Check out Momentum — where you’ll get more guidance and examples of six-figure consulting proposals.

Are you looking for personal help with your proposals? As part of the Clarity Coaching Program for Consultants, we work with you and help you create and position winning consulting proposal. This includes how to structure them, position your services, price effectively to earn higher fees, have a conversation that allows you to communicate value to the buyer — and win more business.

Ask yourself this — if you were to win a BIG proposal, how much revenue would you earn?

With just one win, both of our programs will net you a massive return on your investment.

You won’t just win one big project — you’ll win many of them (at higher fees).

“Before I met Michael and Sam, I was a consultant with deep expertise in my field but often found myself struggling mightily with how to package my services. I charged high fees by the hour and thought it was smart.

Two brief conversations with Michael changed that. Thanks to Consulting Success®, I realized I was in fact limiting my ability to grow and potentially work with bigger corporate clients.

As a result, a whole new world of possibilities opened up to me and led me on a journey that’s helped me grow both personally and professionally. Structuring proposals in a way that reduces my workload while enabling me to charge significantly more is now the new normal.

If you’re a serious consultant looking to grow your practice, working with Consulting Success® is a no-brainer. Do it.”

—Amir A Nasr, Founder at AsstertiveU Media Inc.

Learn more about the Clarity Coaching Program — and how you can take your consulting business to the next level.

THE ELITE COACHING PROGRAM
FOR
CONSULTANTS

Develop a predictable
pipeline of clients.
LEARN ABOUT COACHING »

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29 thoughts on “The WINNING Consulting Proposal Template (& 7 Proposal Writing Tips)

  1. tlmaurer says:

    Excellent points, Michael. Clients are interested in solutions, not processes that will be used to fix their problems and challenges. Everything is about them and their situations, not about us as consultants.

  2. Raja says:

    Valuable inputs, Michael, for a newbie to the consulting industry

  3. A thought-provoking article Michael, thank you. As a business coach, I’m moving towards eliminating content from my proposals altogether. Sounds unusual, but I have found the proposal itself to be an incredibly valuable piece of work – outlining in detail the solution…for free. Doing so typically pits my proposal against 2 to 3 others, so I may have a 1-in-4 chance of winning. I believe a a better way is to become the unsurpassed expert in a particular niche, so there’s really nobody else viable for the client to go to. Sounds tough, and it is – so very much still a work in progress for my practice. But once that hard work of trust-building, positioning and brand development is established up front, along with the effective sales conversation you described, a portion of buyers will always only ever pick #1. And yes, then the proposal becomes much more of an afterthought confirming what has already been agreed to.

  4. Michael Hamilton says:

    Glad I found this article. It is very helpful as a new consultant.

  5. Steve Strother says:

    Michael, excellent article! Very helpful. Thank you.

  6. dominic kandagor says:

    Wow, i love this, the points are so accurate. This was extremely helpful to me. Am thankful Michael.

  7. Chichi says:

    Youve just prevented me from whining all over 8 pages of my proposal. Thanks

  8. I just stripped an 8 page proposal down to 3 . I also have a 5-page spreadsheet of costs, and a one-page flyer that summarizes explains my work. Would you recommend bringing that to the presentation of the proposal for the decision makers to review if they have more questions?

    • Thank you for the thoughtful comment and question Chuck. You can certainly bring along those materials to the meeting. Keep in mind that it’s the conversation you’ve had with the buyer that will win the business, not the proposal. Focus on identifying and communicating the value that the buyer cares most about.

  9. abba Konduga says:

    Michael, I followed your tips and reduced my 25 page proposal to 3 pages and when I submitted, the secretary was looking at me as thinking ” are you a serious consultant” but I won the contract. You are right it is not volume and how well you can explain your competence but the benefits your client can see in the proposal.. Thank you for sharing these wonderful tips.

    • Abba congratulations! Thank you for sharing and wish you continued success.

  10. Maisie says:

    Very helpful tips Michael. I actually dislike all that preamble when clients just want solutions. Thanks.

    • Glad that you found it helpful Maisie! Getting the point is typically appreciated most.

  11. Sameer Poudyal says:

    Yeah Useful for me.

  12. It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.
    Nice one Michael.

  13. Yoro Aba says:

    Thanks, Michael, for these helpful tips. I was going to write 6-8 page proposal, dwelling more on my capability and what I will do. You have saved me that possible miss and embarrassment as a result of a poorly structured proposal!

  14. Lelsie says:

    HI Mike, thanks for your article. found it extremely helpful especially the bit about keeping the proposal short and the structure !

  15. Juanita says:

    Great article for anyone just starting out… Thank you

  16. Rawya says:

    An enlightening article and really useful thoughts.
    Thank you Michael.
    Rawya
    Jordan

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