In business and life, you win some, you lose some. Whatever career path you choose, there will be obstacles. As a freelance consultant, one of the biggest challenges is mastering the art of crafting proposals in such a way that lands you work.
What is a proposal?
Before starting a new partnership with a client, it’s an invitation showcasing how you’d like to be of service. People making the hiring decision can see your outlined recommendations, while getting a glimpse into how you think and organize information. It’s your chance to prove that you understand their pain points and communicate confidence in your ability to be an invaluable asset.
Who To Propose Your Services To
It’s a big, wide world out there. Viewing all of existence as potential prospects may lead you astray in finding the perfect partnership for you. Rather than chase after anyone who crosses your path, hone in on your ideal client. Based on your unique services, personality and mode of operation, what type of client would you click well with?
How to determine your ideal client:
- Do you appreciate what they’re doing?
- Does your mission align with theirs?
- Do you share the same values?
- Would you belong in their company culture?
- Are you familiar with their products/services?
- Could you see your skills serving as an invaluable asset to them?
- Does your availability and rate match their expectations?
What To Include In Your Proposal
Often times, you will be responding to a Request For Proposal (RFP) or Request For Quote (RFQ). In these cases, you may be answering specific questions. Any requested information should obviously be included. However, sometimes prospects want to see what you come up with on your own. It’s then up to you to decide what information you think is important to include, emphasize, prioritize, how it’s designed and more. If you communicate your value with authority and authenticity, it should all flow out naturally.
Main things to remember:
- Contact information: Names of contacts – who the proposal is to/from, company names, email addresses, phone numbers, mailing addresses
- Why Hire You: Brief summary about what makes you a good candidate
- Objectives: State your understanding of the goals at hand
- Deliverables: What services will you be delivering
- Timeline: How long will it take
- Budget: How much will it cost
Where To Find Opportunities
Online job boards are constantly featuring listings of currently available positions. While some may be geared specifically for freelancers, many are targeting full-time employees. Entrepreneurs are known for creating opportunities, so it is important to be proactive if you want to be successfully self-employed. Don’t expect there to be a prompt letting you know where to line up your next gig. You have to get out there and create situations that give rise to the opportunities.
Have the following in order:
- Clear, concise information readily accessible to help others learn all about you
- Digital marketing sales funnel focused on lead generation
- Valuable content you create and share on a regular basis
- A strong network with as many companies and business professionals as possible
- Portfolio showcasing your creative process and most relevant past work
- Solid reputation backed by written endorsements
When To Submit a Proposal
It’s awkward to assume people would want to work with you before they know, like and trust you. Before submitting a proposal, build a foundation of eloquent marketing materials. Create communications with messaging that feels good, educates, builds trust and grows rapport. Earn customers by showing your prospects what is possible and guiding them toward making empowered decisions. Let them know who you are and why they should care. Once that is all in line, then you are ready to make some proposals.
Establishing a prestigious online presence:
- Have a well-designed, fully functioning website
- Maintain a blog sharing your knowledge and insights
- Be active on all social media platforms
- Engage with relevant professionals online
- Collect written testimonials and reviews
Why Package Your Services
Offer about 3 or so different “packages,” each containing a unique set of deliverables and conditions. Employers want to feel in control of their decisions by having options to compare. It helps them move forward with the most appropriate plan to achieve their goals. The better you are able to package your services in a way that communicates your understanding of their business needs, the more likely you are to get hired.
Quick tips for “productizing” your services:
- Explicitly break down precisely what’s included in each option
- Craft solutions that speak to your client’s specific needs
- Make each package easily comparable/contrastable
- There is no one-size-fits-all approach so customize on a case-by-case basis
- Be flexible and plan to make revisions based on feedback
How To Sell Retainers
Repeat clients create the best of both worlds for freelancers, combining the security of traditional employment with the autonomy self-employment provides. Retainers are a package of ongoing services you propose to provide to a company. As opposed to a single project, you will be hired as a reliable extension of their team to provide support in your area of expertise.
Ways to get your foot in the door:
- Offer a free trial
- Plan a discovery session
- Sell value
- Express enthusiasm
RSVP: Following Up & Closing Deals
Proposals are typically submitted via email. Not only do you have to carefully construct the entire proposal itself, you also have to leave a thoughtful message in the body of your email. Ideally, you will leave off with asking when a good time would be to discuss the proposal. If you can set up a time with your prospect, that is the best thing you can do to help advance the process of closing the deal.
What to do if they don’t respond:
- Follow up in a timely manor
- Less than a week follow up is too soon, you come off as overly eager
- Much more than a week is too long, you appear busy/unconcerned
- Reach out no more than 3 times total then focus your efforts elsewhere
What to do if they say yes to a follow up meeting:
- Thank them for the opportunity
- Make the process of scheduling a meeting with you a breeze
- Bring your A game by showing up with the utmost confidence and appreciation
- Come prepared with compelling answers to any potential questions they may have
- Dress to impress and look the part you are wanting to play
- Be your authentic self and work some magic! ✨👌