I'm the owner and creative mind behind One6Creative – a conversion-led creative studio that is passionate about helping creative businesses and inspiring entrepreneurs elevate their business through the power of brand & strategy. Through our blog and resources, we aim to educate fellow creative entrepreneurs on how to grow their business with purpose and intention. Welcome!
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My latest series is all about ways you can create a stellar experience for your client from start to finish. This includes tips on how you can have successful discovery calls, creating an awesome proposal, and some things to avoid when welcoming your clients.
This post is all about project proposals, an essential step, right after your client discovery calls.
Your project proposal is your opportunity to put all of the info from your discovery call together and get your client to take the next step and book you. I’ll start by sharing the 8 things you need to include in your proposal, and then a few details about how I send my proposals.
Take a minute to welcome your client and thank them for considering working for you. Make sure you’re welcome is personal and include their name “Welcome Sarah,” and I like to add their business name on the cover of the proposal.
This is an easy way to build a connection with your client and show them that you created a custom proposal just for them. You just need to remember to change the names! It won’t look too good if you send them a proposal to Sarah that says “Welcome Claire” and make sure to spell their business name the right way. The little things will make a big impact.
You can also include some details that they shared on the discovery call. Maybe they’ve had this idea for years and finally want to bring it to life. In the intro, you can say that you can’t wait to bring their dreams to life. A personal welcome shows that you’re listening, and you can help them solve their problem.
Even though you got to know each other a little bit on the discovery call, this is your time to show them how you’re different, and what makes you the perfect person for them.
You can put your expert hat on and stand in the spotlight. If they’re deciding to spend their hard-earned money with you, they want to know more about you and how you can help them. I make my proposals more personal by adding some photos of myself, and making my proposals branded to my business.
This is the reason that your client contacted you. Make sure you state the deliverable are based on what you discussed during the discovery call. What are the minimum things they expect to see? You don’t want to miss anything important to them.
If they’ve never worked with us before, our clients can assume something is included when it actually costs extra. State what’s included and that the deliverables are based on what you talked about during your call.
Also, let your clients know that if they think something is missing they need to let you know before approving the proposal. You should get as specific as possible so there aren’t any surprises.
It’s also a good time to share past clients’ results and testimonials and how your services helped them. Testimonials show your new client how you’re going to provide value to them. You’re not just trying to sell them something.
Your project timeline should include two things: your earliest availability, and when the project is expected to finish.
It’s easy for the client to assume that their project will start right away, but that’s not always the case. Tell them when you plan on starting their project, so they’re not left wondering why nothing has happened yet. You can also ask about their timeframe and if they have specific due dates.
You can also give them a timeline of when they can expect the project to finish and estimate how long each step will take. Remind your client that the timeline is an estimate, and it can change based on the project. With your project timeline, communication is key. A lack of communication or feedback can delay the project. You need to establish boundaries and expectations as early as possible.
Show them the different steps you’re going to take them through. How is your approach and understand where the client will be involved?
Sometimes clients assume that once they hire you, everything will be done for them. The reality is my clients have a lot of homework at the start of my projects. I need to know about their vision for their business and ask a lot of questions. This helps me give them a finished product that meets all of their expectations.
You will also need to walk them through where they can provide feedback and which parts of the project that they’re going to be involved in.
Now comes the time to talk about the money.
First, you want to excite the client and show them how valuable you are and how your work is unique. It’s important to focus on the value you’re providing, before dropping the price bomb on them.
Here you can talk about payment plans and the initial deposit. I change my clients 30% upfront and offer a 3-month payment plan. I do this to help them out and give them the opportunity to work with me because I know not everyone has the cash readily available.
I also want to make the point that they are making an investment. The services I provide are going to help them for years to come. By deciding to work with me, they’re going to generate more money and grow their business long after I’ve finished.
Answering frequently asked questions is a great way to frame any objections and leave your clients feeling confident. Think about the common questions you get from clients and objections they give. Now is your opportunity to answer questions before they’re asked, and address any objections early on. Doing this is a great way to prove your expertise further and show that you understand your client’s needs.
I include a handful of common questions specific to the type of project I’m working on. Can I edit my site? What if I want something extra? What happens after my project is complete?
The fewer questions your client has, the better. They should know exactly what they’re paying for and have a good understanding of your process.
Now that they understand the project details, what are they supposed to do now?
You don’t want your clients to be unsure of what happens next. Outline what they need to know and how to approve the proposal. Then tell them what happens after they approve the proposal.
I have this system automated, so when they get to the end of the proposal, my clients can click a button that says “approve your proposal”. It auto sends them the contract and invoice. You want to make the next steps as easy as possible for them. This helps speed up the process, and your clients won’t be in the dark waiting for something to happen.
When I increased my prices, I needed to up my proposal game. Right now, I send my proposals as a PDF that’s on brand and has all of the info the client needs to understand the project and process.
You can use a CRM like Honeybook or Dubsado to do this, but I want to create an awesome first impression, so I made a customized template. Using a CRM would limit my options, so it’s not always the best option.
It only takes me about 15 minutes to put a proposal together in a PDF, and I can easily modify it for each client.
Whatever you decide to use, make sure your process is streamlined and easy, you don’t want to spend a bunch of time doing this. I’ve spent hours trying to create the best proposals, and sometimes they wouldn’t lead to a paying customer.
The proposal process also needs to be easy for your client. You need to step into their shoes and see if it’s easy for them, or are some steps overcomplicated? You can ask your friends or family to go through the process and ask for their honest feedback. What would be streamlined and simplified?
When my potential clients click the button that says “approve your proposal” they are taken to Dubsado, which sends them a contract and their invoice. I can wait for them to go through the process and be less involved.
I’ve been working on my proposals since I started my business, and now I have about a 90% success rate. The steps you take before sending a proposal are just as important. Your discovery calls are important, and after that, they’re already halfway there.
If you need some extra help creating awesome proposals, you can be the first one to get access to the templates I use, and you’ll get an extra discount.
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