Writing a proposal’s easy when the prospect’s head over heels at the thought of procuring your services. But most prospects aren’t giddy at the thought of engaging you. That’s why you need a killer proposal. One that generates excitement and desire and overcomes the prospect’s natural reluctance to open his wallet.
(This article is an itty-bitty, slightly-adapted excerpt from Chapter 21 of The Irresistible Consultant’s Guide to Winning Clients.)
Most consultants think they’re supposed to be the star of their proposal. Finally, they get to tell the story of why they are so awesome! “Look at our spiffy process. Look at our compelling case studies. Look at our impressive pedigrees. Look at our toes…no, don’t.”
That approach is upside down. Your proposal is not meant to highlight why you’re great.
It’s designed to reassure prospects that you’ll achieve their goal.
Your proposal isn’t about you. It’s about your prospect. That’s why the three principles below heighten your likelihood to win virtually every project.
Three Principles of a Perfect Consulting Proposal
Note: The principles below will apply to all your proposals, with one exception: responding to a strict RFP (request for proposal) that specifies explicit section and format requirements.
1. Focus on Their Outcome, Not Your Tasks
The more your proposal dives into detail about your approach, the more you risk drifting into uninteresting “it’s about me” territory and shifting everyone’s focus to the activities rather than the results. Remember, your value comes from achieving an outcome, not from completing tasks.
2. Provide Reassurance
Clients can be insecure. When you anticipate their objections, quiet their fears, and mitigate their perceived risks, you rise from a vendor to trusted ally. Thanks to the Context Discussion, you know most of the worries that are plaguing your prospect. That means your irresistible proposal can address your prospect’s concerns explicitly in the approach and the contract structure.
3. Offer Alternatives
The perfect proposal finalizes the discovery process by presenting choices. Let that sink in for a moment. The perfect proposal isn’t intended to synthesize our understanding into a single, ultimate submission. Instead, it affords us an opportunity to mold our offering into an even more obvious choice by soliciting our prospect’s reaction to different combinations of approaches and terms.
Now that you know the three guidelines to follow, you can wrap them in a proposal structure that you’ll use consistently for every project. The four-to-five page format outlined in my newly revised, Perfect Proposal Template works well for engagements from $10,000 to $1 million.
You can whip up a typical, six-section, irresistible proposal in a few hours that will inspire your prospects, soothe every area of concern and render them speechless with excitement at the thought of working with you.
Want an example of an actual, irresistible proposal, with key points highlighted? I created a new, revised Perfect Proposal Template for you in March, 2017. (If you’ve previously downloaded the template, download this revised version.)
Final note: You’ll find a much more guidance on writing your own, perfect proposals in my new book. In other words, if you liked this article, there’s a lot more where this came from. Click here to get your copy of The Irresistible Consultant’s Guide to Winning Clients.
What other principles are important for a killer proposal? I’d like to hear. Share in the comments section below.
Text and images are © 2023 David A. Fields, all rights reserved.