So you have a promising new prospect on the horizon and they are interested in working with you. But before you pop the champagne, you still need to have them sign their name on the dotted line. A winning consulting proposal can now make the difference between you landing your dream client and ending up with a “maybe next time.”
In this article, we’ve gathered everything you need to know about what a consulting proposal is, why it’s important, and how to write one that helps you seal the deal. To make things even easier, we’ve included a free template for your proposal email, as well as your proposal deck, that you can customize for your business. At the end, we’re also sharing some best practices and tips for the biggest consulting niches.
What is a Consulting Proposal?
A consulting proposal outlines the scope, timeline, and fees of a particular consulting project. It’s also a sales tool that you can use to highlight the outcomes you’re looking to achieve for your client’s business and back it up with data or references in order to convince them to work with you.
Normally, you wouldn’t send out a proposal without first meeting your client on a call or in person, so that you can understand what they need. Setting up a discovery meeting is a great way to gauge the current state of your client’s business, define the objectives they want to reach, and see if it’s something within your specialization that you can help them with.
Once you have a clear understanding of what they want to focus on, you can tailor your proposal accordingly. You definitely don’t have to prepare a completely new proposal from scratch for every prospect you’re in negotiation with. Instead, you can create one or more templates for your consulting services or packages. It’s best to find the right balance between templatizing your proposals and adding custom details or a personal touch to each project.
[ Read: 7 Consulting Frameworks That Win Big Clients ]
How to Write a Consulting Proposal
A consulting proposal can be anything between a simple email summary or an entire well-designed sales deck. Normally, the longer and costlier the project, the more effort you’d put into fine-tuning your pitch in order to stand out from the competition.
How to Write a Proposal Email
Proposal emails are not meant to be too long, so if your project scope is longer than a few paragraphs, it’s better to attach it as a PDF file. However, for simpler partnerships, a short email is enough to sum up what you’ve discussed in your initial meeting and get on the same page with your potential new client.
Proposal emails are also more about the logistics of the onboarding procedure and less about introducing your packages in detail (which you would flesh out in your attached PDF deck).
Here’s what you should include in your consulting proposal email.
- Salutation & Introduction: A simple “Hi Adam, it was great meeting with you the other day” will do, just so they remember who you are.
- Project Summary: Here’s where you can include a few bullet points about the objectives and KPIs you want to achieve by the end of the project, and the key deliverables that will lead you there.
- Timeline: Define how long you’d be working together, the deadline for key initiatives, and the frequency of your meetings.
- Fees: State your consulting fees and any other project costs that you want your client to cover.
- Onboarding Process: Let them know how they can get signed with you and schedule their appointments for the project. If you have a Paperbell account, all this will take is sending them a link and you’ll have all your contracting and scheduling done in one place.
How to Write a Consulting Proposal Brochure or Deck
Your PDF proposal can be anything between a simple one-pager to a detailed brochure running across several pages. This is where you can provide more details about how the project will be broken down into stages and what will be done in each of them. Here’s how you can break down your PDF consulting proposal:
- Table of Contents: A TOC is optional, but if you’re writing a longer proposal for a giant, year-long project, it will make it easier to navigate.
- Executive Summary: For a lengthy proposal, you can include a summary at the beginning as a sort of TLDR (too long didn’t read) section. Of course, your aim is for them to read your entire proposal, but an executive summary can also serve as a reminder about the project scope when your client has to decide between several proposals.
- About Section: This is where your bio goes (if you’re an independent consultant) or the description of your consulting company. Mention your years of experience in your niche, your most notable clients, and any certifications or awards that make you stand out from your competition.
- Project Summary: This is where you can list objectives, success metrics, deliverables, as well as the stages of the project and their respective timelines. If you can also provide a projection for the ROI (return on investment) of the project, make sure you include it here.
- Visuals: You can make your consulting proposal more appealing by including design elements such as the logos of your biggest clients, graphs that showcase your projection of success metrics, or a few illustrative images. A well-designed cover page will also make a good impression of your work.
- Case Studies: If you had similar projects in the past that went really well, you can include a few short case studies on what the goals of those projects were and the results you delivered. Testimonials from other clients are also a great addition to your proposal that will make it more convincing.
Consulting Proposal Email Example
Here’s an example of what a simple email proposal looks like for your consulting project.
Hi Client Name,
It was a pleasure meeting you yesterday. Here’s the summary of what we discussed about the project.
The main purpose of this project is to build a competitive online presence for your brand that supports your business objectives. This will be achieved through high-level SEO, social media, and funnel marketing strategies that are aligned with your brand identity and meet your sales targets. We’ll be setting weekly initiatives and tracking KPI progress through weekly strategy meetings that involve you and the senior marketing leads in your company.
Main objectives and KPIs:
- Increasing conversion rate on your website from 1.2% to 2.5%
- Ranking at least 5 articles on the first page of Google in the next 3 months
- Restructuring your funnel strategy in a way that it aligns with your new yearly objectives
- Aligning your main social media profiles with your core brand identity
- Creating a 3-month social media calendar with all assets included
- Shooting and producing 12 high-quality brand videos
Estimated completion date: 21st November 2022
Total Budget: $____
I’ve attached a more detailed description of the key initiatives I propose for this project and a few case studies of similar projects I worked on in the past.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me with any questions regarding this.
If you’d like to go ahead with our collaboration, you can review and sign the project agreement digitally through my Paperbell profile and schedule our kick-off meeting via this link.
I’m looking forward to hearing back from you!
Free Consulting Proposal PDF Template
Download this free Consulting Proposal PDF Template for your next project negotiation and fill in the specific details unique to your services.
[Google Doc of Consulting Proposal Template]
[PDF Download of Consulting Proposal Template]
Alternatively, you can read more about the popular proposal software options consultants use to create and track stunning proposals in the following article.
[ Read: Looking for Consulting Software? Our Picks for the 19 Best Tools ]
Consulting Proposal Best Practices
Consulting Contracts VS Consulting Proposals
Both your consulting contract and your consulting proposal will be key for getting your client to sign with you, but they serve different purposes. Your proposal will be a marketing and sales tool to persuade your client to say yes to working with you, while your contract will be a legal tool that makes your partnership official and lays out the terms for it. It’s best not to crowd your proposal with legal terms. Instead, highlight the most important details of the project and its projected outcomes.
The Longer the Project, the Longer the Proposal
You don’t want to spend days perfecting a proposal that might not even go through and miss out on other prospects in the meantime. Instead, use the same template for your proposals, and only add the variables for each, based on what you’ve discussed with your client in your initial meeting.
If you’ve done a great job at pitching your services, your proposal should contain no new information, other than a summary of what your client is ready to say yes to. In general, the longer (and more expensive) the project is, the more time you should be spending with selling it.
Create Custom Proposals
If you specialize in multiple areas of consulting, you can create separate consulting proposal templates for each that highlight your relevant strengths and the case studies in that industry. Here are a few tips on how you can tailor your consulting proposal template to fit marketing, IT, and HR projects.
Your Marketing Consulting Proposal Template
When you’re pitching a marketing project, set clear projections for the KPIs you want to help your client achieve. List specific numbers you’ve reached with your previous campaigns, and make sure it’s well-presented visually (after all, you’re a marketing expert). If you’re an independent consultant, highlight the costs your client will save by hiring you instead of a bigger agency or consulting firm.
Your IT Consulting Proposal Template
Consulting projects in tech fields often revolve around identifying and solving problems that might not be visible at the time of signing with your client. Even if there are a lot of moving parts in your project, try to lay down as many tangibles as you can. You can back up your proposal with case studies of how you solved similar problems in the past for your most prestigious clients and how much revenue those changes generated for them.
Your HR Consulting Proposal Template
If you want to write an HR consulting proposal your client can’t refuse, include a brief analysis of the main weaknesses in their strategies and propose solutions to them. This shouldn’t be a detailed plan they can just take home as “free advice” but a few points that position you as an expert and make them interested in working with you in the long run.