Customize a consulting proposal template to show just how credible and capable you are to perform this role, presenting yourself as a solution to your clients. Then, have your proposal accepted from anywhere with electronic signature.
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Terms and conditions
Differentiation aspects – What makes your proposal different from the 10 others on leadership’s desk? Is your analysis better? Is your proposal crafted in a manner where the verbiage stands out and more succinctly defines the actions you will take? Is your pricing reasonable and fair, based on the work you will do? Is the visual appeal of your proposal the best in terms of quality and format?
In addition to your written proposal, you may need a formal presentation, such as PowerPoint or Prezi to get your point across to clients. There are numerous attractive, elegant professional templates for building your business case. Remember, presentation is very important as you submit your consulting reports. There are numerous templates available for purchase and for free, if you are beginning a startup.
As a consultant, you must display the ability to write the most appropriate proposal, with the best writing techniques. Ensure that you have relevant data, easily displayed, and can convey to the client, in a brief and concise fashion, the activities you will perform and the results they will accomplish. Following are some examples of consultant analysis charts. They convey both the present state and future state of the organization, so the client can see very easily the improvements they need to make, and the time lines in which they will occur. It is important that they catch the client’s eye.
Once you have passed the hurdle of the written proposal you more than likely will be required to provide an oral presentation. Remember to adapt your style to the respective audience.
How to disengage
Disengagement is the act of ensuring the client can continue without you as a consultant. To properly disengage, you want to leave the client with a plan of action that includes specific tasks and activities with associated time lines. As a consultant, you will monitor the actions to refine your own return on investment, but also to convey to the client how you were able to resolve their issues. It is key that you ensure client satisfaction through verbal means, but also through a customer satisfaction survey. This will provide you with information that can help you on your methodologies, and also gives you the opportunity as a consultant to potentially sell additional services.
At this point, you will use project management techniques to close the project. A significant part of this engagement is the documentation of closure, where you relate the actions you have taken back to the clients’ expectations and evaluate the overall consulting experience.
Summary Reminders and Takeaways
This article covered your consulting methodology, which includes how you write your proposals with low labor intensity, and how you disengage with clients after you have performed your consulting.
How you structure your proposals and convey the content is critically important to whether you win the consulting contract. You learned that methodologies are a frame, structure, or set of tasks, completed in a logical order, to produce a result. During the consulting process, the consultant and the client engage in activities that are necessary for achieving the desired result or solution. These activities are known as the consulting process. There are five phases you must understand, because they affect how you do your consulting and also go into the framework of your proposals. Initiation phase includes your initial contact with the client, and a preliminary diagnosis of the problem, which is submitted in your proposal to the client. The diagnosis phase includes defining and measuring the problem and performing research. In the action planning phase, the consultant develops solutions, develops alternatives, makes a plan for implementation, and presents these to the client. The implementation phase includes implementing your strategy for action and performing training for employees. A closure and termination phase includes briefing management on your plans for final follow-up, submitting your consulting report, collecting your payment, disengaging, and setting the stage for future consulting opportunities.
Proposals have the following sections: the name of the client, the consulting need, executive summary, the objectives, success measures, the value summary, time lines, methodology options, joint responsibilities, terms and conditions, acceptance, business environment, scope, and keys terms. As you develop your proposal, you want to be brief, create a powerful executive summary, share your ideas, be client focused, ensure your accuracy for data, and convey your ability to do the consulting work.
Disengaging with clients means that you have aligned them with all the necessary activities to achieve the desired result. In this phase, you follow up with the clients periodically, but are not expected to manage the day to day work to improve the results. During the disengagement, you want to ensure that the client was satisfied and their expectations were met. Use project management techniques to close the project, including documentation of the activities you underwent during the consulting, and any follow-up activities that are still required.
The proposal will not win if you fail to uncover the customer’s true decision criteria and decision-makers. These may be quite different from the criteria and decision-makers defined in a Request For Proposal (RFP).
You must therefore research the customer–preferably be interviewing people in the various groups involved in the decision–to understand what’s really going on.
Please note that different groups will likely have different “takes” on what’s needed and will use different terms to describe the situation. If your proposal will be evaluated by both engineers and accountants, for instance, you’ll need to understand both, and be able to communicate with both.
3. Lay the appropriate groundwork.
Your proposal will be thrown out unless you’ve done marketing and sales activities that establish recognition in the mind of the decision-maker. There are two ways to do this:
Create a public presence. This consists of advertising, social networking, public relations, sponsoring conferences, sending speakers to conferences, publishing newsletters, and so forth.
Create a personal presence. This consists of establishing recognition through sales calls, customer meetings, emails, notes, texts, and phone calls.
4. Brainstorm your approach.
Now that you’ve done your research and laid the groundwork, brainstorm the client’s situation and your own approach to helping them. Use these questions to get the discussion started:
- What is the customer’s problem or issue?
- Why is this problem important to them?
- What parts of the business are affected by this problem?
- What corporate goals are not being achieved due to this problem?
- How will the customer measure the success of the solution?
- Of these success measures, which is most important to them?
- What, precisely, will we propose?
- How will we do this work?
- What proof can we offer that we are qualified and competent?
- What quantitative promise (value proposition) are we willing to make?
- How can we demonstrate that the value we propose to offer is credible?
5. Write the executive summary.
Contrary to popular belief, the executive summary is NOT a summary of the contents of the proposal. It is a summary of the basic issues, the proposed solution, and the promised results. Effective executive summaries are structured like this:
- Problem, need, or goal.
- Expected outcome.
- Solution overview.
- Call to action.
6. Write the body of the proposal.
The body contains detailed explanations of how you will do the work, the people involved, your prior successful experience you have in this area, previous customers you’ve help on similar projects, and evidence of your core competency and financial stability.
In many cases, the customer will have already defined the structure of the proposal or provided a template. If so, follow that structure exactly. According to Sant, decisions are usually made based on the executive summary, but failing to follow a template automatically disqualifies you, regardless.
7. Mercilessly edit the whole thing.
Appearance is as important as content. There should be no obvious grammatical errors and an absolute minimum of typographical errors. If boilerplate (standardized material from other proposals) is included, it must be carefully customized to match the customer’s own situation.
Be extremely careful to edit any passages that might contain the names of other companies for which the boilerplate was used in the past. Many proposals have been thrown out simply because the proposal-writer left the name of one of the customer’s competitors in a paragraph lifted from an old proposal.
If you’re serious about a proposal, I highly recommend that, in addition to doing your own in-house editing, you hire an independent copyeditor to go over the entire proposal. I use Pure-Text, but I’m sure there are other services that are almost as good.
Proposals are the documents consultants use to set out their recommendations for tackling a project. The document may form a response to a formal Request for Proposal from a government agency or large organization, or it may summarize the consultant’s recommendations following a client briefing. It is also a marketing document that aims to make the consultant stand out and persuade the client to select the proposal from the consultant, rather than competitors’ offerings.
Prepare a structure for the proposal to ensure you include all essential information. If you are responding to a Request for Proposal, write your bid in the format specified by the client. For other proposals, create a logical structure that demonstrates your understanding of the client’s requirements, sets clear objectives, describes your approach, deliverables and costs, and describes your credentials.
Thank the client for the opportunity to put forward a proposal. Outline the background to the consulting project, describing the client’s business environment, setting out the challenges the client faces and summarizing the requirements of the project. This demonstrates that you understand the client’s needs. State that your consultancy has the experience and skills to meet the project requirements and provide the client with measurable results.
List the objectives for the project in precise terms so that the client is clear about what your proposal includes. A wide-ranging objective, such as “to transform the client’s business,” could lead to misunderstanding about the scope of your proposal and result in disputes about cost and performance. Keep the objective specific, such as “To develop a production line training program that will improve productivity by 5 percent and reduce waste by 7 percent.”
Describe how you will tackle the project. Include information on the research or interviews you will carry out. Explain how your approach complies with best practice or introduces an innovative process for improved results. Set out what you require from the client, such as access to key personnel for interviews or relevant documents.
List the deliverables that you will provide at the end of the project. Deliverables might include a feasibility study, an audit of the client’s resources, a report on market opportunities or a training plan. Specifying what you will deliver, as with setting precise objectives, helps to avoid misunderstandings and potential disputes. Provide a detailed time frame and an estimate of fees and related costs for the project. Highlight any costs that the client will settle directly, such as the cost of renting a hotel for a training program. State your preference for staged payments.
Describe your credentials for handling the projects, including relevant licenses and accreditations. Set out your experience in handling similar projects, describing the results you achieved and including references to relevant case studies. Summarize the benefits of selecting your consultancy for the project and thank the client for the opportunity to put forward proposals.
Based in the United Kingdom, Ian Linton has been a professional writer since 1990. His articles on marketing, technology and distance running have appeared in magazines such as “Marketing” and “Runner's World.” Linton has also authored more than 20 published books and is a copywriter for global companies. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in history and economics from Bristol University.
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Consulting businesses can be quite lucrative if they are managed right and utilize a free webinar service as opposed to other expensive tools. Writing a strongly persuasive consulting proposal is one crucial component for owning a successful consulting firm. But, many professionals who learn how to start their own consulting business still make big time consulting proposal mistakes that could easily be avoided. Learn how to write an effective consulting proposal to steer your business toward success below.
Understand Its Purpose
Freelance consultants need to understand the purpose of consulting proposals before they ever attempt to write one. Consulting proposals should not be the first communication between you and a prospective client. You should already have established some type of relationship prior to sending a consulting proposal. A consulting proposal should not be the tool you are banking on to win you a bid. It must be your own ability to form relationships, communicate your abilities and demonstrate proven successes in order to win a consulting contract with a given company. Do not misunderstand the importance or place of consulting proposals in the bid process when you are trying to win a deal. However, using a proposal template which looks professional isn’t going to hurt.
Before you ever put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboards, you need to conduct thorough research on the company you are writing a proposal for. Only then can you advance as a business consultant. If possible, you want to gain more insight into the company than the basic information that can easily be found online. Try to find out what the business goals are that you would be working to help achieve. What expectations or guidelines, if any, will the company have for you to meet. This is the only way to start writing a consulting proposal. Research before you write, just as you would for a college essay.
Offer An Overview
First, you should start writing by offering potential clients a project overview. This is the first step to writing a consulting proposal as a consultant. Inform the reader of your understanding of the project and common outsourcing challenges that you can help them avoid. Include details regarding what the clients’ will be getting from you throughout the process. The project overview statement is the first part of any effective consulting proposal.
Describe Your Plans
Next, consultants will need to describe their plans for the project. What will you actually being doing should the company choose to bring you on board as a consultant? What steps will you take to help the business achieve the desire project outcome? Outline those steps within the plans sections of consultant proposals. Keep in mind that a hospitality consultant’s plans will differ from a marketing consultant’s outline. Do not copy a quality proposal that you find online. Outlining your own helps your potential client clearly visualize your contributions to their project outcomes. That is why it is a must-include feature when writing a consulting proposal.
Provide Your Credentials
Moreover, you need to supply your prospective clients with your credentials. Whether you are a small business consultant or a marketing consultant, you need to use your skills to persuade prospects. This is the section where you can convince them that you are worth their capital. Supply them with examples of the projects you have handled in the past. Include any licenses and accreditations that they might find impressive. In doing so, you will deliver a winning consulting proposal.
Obviously, you need to include pricing in your proposals. When writing a business proposal, the cost is perhaps one of the utmost deciding factors in determining whether or not you get the job. Include your schedule and pricing in the proposal letting you write. Be sure not to low-ball the potential clients. The sticker shock they get later when they actually get billed will ensure that you will not get any referrals from them in the future. Avoid that by being up front about consulting prices for your services. This is a necessary part when you write a consulting proposal.
Those professionals looking to start your own consulting business, whether you specialize in ticketing software or some other field, need to first learn how to write a consulting proposal. Knowing how to write consulting proposals will help make it easier for you to establish a clientele. It will also make your consulting company much more likely to achieve long-term success. Follow the steps above to start writing a consulting proposal that wows potential clients. You are sure to be pleased with the results.
How to make a consulting proposal template
Once you get a potential client, one of the first things you’ll need to do (after having an initial conversation where you get some much needed information), is to put together a consultant proposal. If you’ve never done this before, it will be helpful for you to put together a consulting proposal template that you can use for this and other proposals you will be putting together.
You may first want to research a sample consulting proposal to see what your options are. Then you may choose to customize your own. Some of the best resources I’ve found for sample consulting proposal templates are:
It’s important to find the layout of the proposal you prefer to figure out what type of information you need to get from your client in order to put the proposal together. You’ll need information like: the company’s main pain points (i.e., why are they calling you?), their goals and objectives, their desired outcomes, the project timeframe and budget, if they have one. The more information you can get up front, the better.
Having an evaluation questionnaire/survey that you talk through with your client is an excellent way to gather this information. Based on the type of consulting you’re doing, you’ll want to tailor the questions appropriately. Your goal is to get all of the information you need at this stage, so that you can better put together an effective consulting proposal.
The 8 iterations can be implemented one at a time in sequence or used like a checklist to expedite figuring out what to write:
- Create the initial shell.
- Insert instructions for addressing RFP requirements.
- Add instructions for incorporating win strategies and themes, and to optimize the proposal against the evaluation criteria.
- Add instructions for incorporating your customer, opportunity, and competitive intelligence.
- Add instructions for summarizing your offering design, including the key processes, steps, or components of your solution or offering.
- Add instructions for the use of graphics, tables, relevance boxes, examples, etc.
- Add instructions regarding any assumptions, limits, boundaries, or issues that must be resolved.
- Add any boilerplate or re-use material that is relevant to the instructions, noting any deviations for correction.
A Content Plan can be built through an iterative process. With each pass, you focus on different aspects of a winning proposal. Everything that goes into a Content Plan is in the form of instructions to the proposal writers. When you are done it should read like a recipe for the proposal. When you complete the last pass, you have confidence that you have considered everything that should go into your proposal.
Working ahead or out of sequence is okay
When creating a Content Plan:
- You are encouraged to include instructions from any iteration cycle whenever they occur to you
- The iterative process ensures that nothing gets overlooked
What matters is capturing the instructions and not necessarily the sequence followed to capture them. If you think of something that should go in your proposal or that the Proposal Writers should know, put it in when you think about (so you don’t forget to add it later). It is also okay to go back and expand prior iterations, or to combine statements from different iterations. What matters is that you arrive at clear guidance for everything that should go into the proposal.
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Carl is the Founder and President of CapturePlanning.com and PropLIBRARY
Carl is an expert at winning in writing. The materials he has published have helped millions of people develop business and write better proposals. Carl is also a prolific author, frequent speaker, trainer, and consultant and can be reached at [email protected] To find out more about him, you can also connect with Carl on LinkedIn.
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