Writing consulting proposals can be a time consuming, thankless and tedious proposition. Done correctly, however, they can be one of the very best ways you can secure new clients in your chosen target market.
To give you an example, someone I know once created a security proposal for a client (who was a construction professional.) Despite the fact that the consulting price was nearly double that of big name competitors, they won the project. Why? His own words were that their proposal was more professional. By being more professional, providing detailed information, and thereby creating a feeling of confidence in your clients, you begin to compete on knowledge, rather than price.
Without effective proposals, which, as per the above example, make clients want to work with you due to experience and expertise, your only draw card to clients is price. Not an ideal situation!
Here a few other reasons why writing a comprehensive proposal is not only a good idea, but also a necessity.
When providing any commercial product or service, your client has a certain requirement, while you, the supplier of the product and service, have an understanding of that requirement, and a means to fulfill the need.
In the process, however, you may find that your client’s requirement and your solution become confused, due to a lack of communication or other factors. By putting all of the details of your understanding of the client’s requirements and your solution in writing, you both enable the client to come back to you regarding any parts that do not meet the requirement, and protect yourself should you deliver as promised, but fail to be paid by the client!
A proposal is a detailed outline of the problem, and the solution, as well as the method you intend to use to solve the problem, and the promised result. If you fail to deliver, the client is protected, and on the flip side, if you do deliver, you are protected. Think of it as a precursor to a contract.
Measuring Results and Progress
Not all consulting projects are simple affairs! There may be a multi-layered problem that needs to be solved, requiring several steps and processes. By setting these out on paper, you help yourself to measure and report progress to your client. Your proposal and supporting documentation may even be used in meetings, as a part of the overall agenda, to establish the progress made.
Large corporations and government bodies often have rigid procedures in place regarding the awarding of contracts, or the issuing of written orders for goods or services. In these instances, even if you have received an informal instruction, you cannot be appointed or for that matter, paid for your work, if all of the paperwork involved is not complete. That may very well include your formal written proposal.
Making sure you submit this paperwork, even if only as a formality, makes it easier for your client to hire you, as well as ensuring that you are eligible for payment for your services.
Even submitting an unsuccessful proposal, if done correctly, can be your foot in the door with a prospective client.
While they may have chosen another provider for the project you submitted your proposal before, if, like that security client, they are impressed with your proposal, they will probably retain your details for future projects.
It is clear, from all angles, that writing professional and effective proposals can help you to build and safeguard your consulting practice. Make sure that you master the art, and reap the benefits!