I used to put off doing web proposals for days. Weeks sometimes. They used to take me about three to four hours each.
I lost a client once because I took so long to get the proposal to them. I’d spend so much time pouring my heart into each proposal, and I fell hard when I lost a job to someone else on price.
The time, and maybe the fear of rejection, meant I’d procrastinate. Even though putting them off was seriously hurting my cash flow.
Each day they moved to the bottom of my to do list, and I always had that niggling, guilty feeling every night saying, ‘I really should do that darn prop now, but <insert crazy-lame excuse here>… I’ll do it tomorrow.’
Until one day I had about six to do at once. And the thought of sitting down for 15 hours to do props was torture.
So I created a whole new web quoting template for my web design business, Web123, which meant I could do them in 10 minutes or less. It was a game-changer for me. It now saves me over eight hours a week. A whole day.
Now I haven’t met a designer yet that says, “I love doing proposals!”. But instead of it taking hours to do, there are some ‘essentials’ you need to follow to get your prop creation down to 10 minutes so you can at least ‘like’ it a little more.
It’s an everyday aspect of gaining a new client. You’ve talked to them about their web design requirements. You’ve had a couple of meetings and talked about the ins and outs of the project, including timelines and budgets, and they are ready to go.
They say something like, ‘this is great! Where do I sign?’
And then it hits you. You need to give them a proposal. And you know it takes you two, sometimes, three hours to do. I know that feeling. And it sucks.
So here are the essential ingredients of the 10-minute proposal:
1. An introduction and up to three pages detailing your services
[Tweet “The perfect proposal does not have to take you hours on end. #business “]
You’ll introduce yourself and what you do in one page, bundling your services into easy-to-read ‘chunks’. This can be the same for each client. Honestly, it can. Your clients aren’t going to know it’s the same.
There is no need to write a specific letter and scope of works for each client if you’re doing web projects in the $5-10k mark.
On a separate page, you’ll talk about the content management system (CMS), including what’s included with a standard ‘info’ site and what you’ll include for an ecommerce site.
You’ll list the features here, like easy-to-use content management system, unlimited pages and products, blog, event calendar, news feed and galleries. You can also keep these the same for each client. Seriously, you can. 😉
On the next page, you’ll break down the project further, including website build to the CMS platform, copywriting, shopping cart, content migration and ongoing rates (for support and hosting).
Next, you add in other services you offer, like logo design and the creation of social and brand assets.
Next to each section I’ve outlined above, you’ll have your prices. There’s no need to include scope of work. It’s so simple, and yet, it’s shaved hours off my prop creation!
Social proof is so important for clients. You can include them in your proposal on a separate page along with a screenshot of the website you created for them. One or two testimonials would be best.
[Tweet “Testimonials are a huge help in growing your business. Don’t be afraid to ask your clients for their feedback!”]
If you don’t have any from clients, ask them to write a sentence or two. Most are happy to help. If they’re not confident with words, you can write one for them and have them sign off on it.
And yes, this can stay the same for each proposal. Remember, your clients won’t see that they’ve all been given the same proposal, only you know that they have the same proposal with a few changes – your client’s name and business name, for example.
3. The next steps in the design process
This is where you’ll let your client know what will happen after they sign. This is your process of how you work. It could include things like, ‘we do a design, you’ll give us feedback, approve the design, and we set to work on building your site etc’.
This can also stay the same for each client, as your process wouldn’t change per client. This section also helps manage client expectations and they know what happens after they say ‘let’s go!’.
4. Terms and conditions and signing on the dotted line
Your proposal should also include terms and conditions – and here’s where you may need professional legal advice. Millo does have a great free guide to contracts for creatives, which will help you.
You’ll also have a section for your client to sign, print their name, include the date, and outline the total cost for the project (once they’ve selected the services they required).
Remember to include who they’ll send the completed proposal too – that’s your name and email address.
Using this formula, you can get props out to clients within an hour of a meeting. With Web123, our conversion rate on sales has gone through the roof because of it. This exact proposal formula has now sold over 1,000 websites for us.
If you’re like me and loathe spending hours on proposals, you need a cheatsheet to get them out in 10 minutes flat. So I’ve created a fill-in-the-blanks 10 Minute Proposal Template that you can download for free here.
This template is just part of what’s on offer with Foxley’s new coaching program, Licensed To Sell, helping designers overcome client objections and close more sales.
Comment below with your proposal struggles.
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