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 a consulting proposal that helps you seal the deal.
To make things even easier, we’ve included a free consulting proposal template for your proposal email, as well as your proposal deck, that you can customize for your business. At the end of the post, we also share some best practices and tips for the biggest consulting niches.
What is a Consulting Proposal?
A consulting proposal outlines the scope, timeline, project schedule 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. You can back your proposal up with data or references in order to convince a prospective client to work with you. In essence, a proposal is an executive summary of what you can achieve for a potential client, how long it will take you and how much it will cost them.
When Should You Send a Consulting Proposal?
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’ve assessed your potential client’s needs and decided that your consulting business is the one for the job, it’s time to write a formal business proposal and show your prospective client what you’re made of!
Why Should You Write a Proposal For Consulting Services?
Great proposal writing is how you will win deals. If you master this skill, you’ll never struggle to find new clients again.
Here are six important reasons you shouldn’t skip writing consulting proposals:
1. Showcase Your Expertise
Writing a consulting proposal is your chance to show your knowledge and expertise and show the client exactly why you’re the one they should hire. You can use your proposal to highlight relevant experiences and success stories from other projects you’ve worked on. This will give you credibility, impress the client and make it easy for them to choose you for the job.
2. Set Clear Expectations
An effective proposal outlines the project scope and exactly what you can do to solve the client’s problem. It gives you the chance to clarify project milestones, a timeline, pricing information, the specifics of the service you’ll provide, and how you will measure the success of the project. If you start off with clear expectations, there’s less chance of any misunderstanding or disagreement during the course of the project. If the client knows what to expect from the offset, it can also help increase their satisfaction with your work.
3. You Can Offer Customized Solutions
A personalized proposal gives you the chance to tweak your services to the client’s needs. You can use your proposal to prove that you don’t offer a “one size fits all package” and tailor your services specifically to the requirements of each project.
4. You Demonstrate Clear Communication
A proposal is also your chance to show how well you communicate. The client wants clear communication from you throughout the project, and a project proposal is your first chance to show how easy it is to communicate with you. If you can create a proposal with a logical structure, it demonstrates professionalism and an ability to explain difficult concepts in a clear way.
5. You Can Use Your Proposal to Persuade
Your consulting proposal acts as a sales pitch, and if you make it outstanding, it proves your competitive advantage. Use your proposal as the chance to go the extra mile, and show you’ve done your research and that you’ve thought about innovative and unconventional solutions.
Perfecting your proposal will allow you to stand out from the crowd and make it a no-brainer that the prospective client chooses to work with you.
6. You’ll Get More Clients
If the above five points haven’t persuaded you to master writing the perfect consulting proposal, this one should! Winning proposals attract high-quality clients. So if you are sending out generic proposals and not converting them to leads, take a look at the below tips so you can perfect your proposal process!
Before You Create Your Proposal
Before you start writing proposals, it’s a good idea to get to know your client so you can get your proposed solutions just right. Ask the client about the details of their project, so you can truly understand their needs and challenges.
Questions you can ask to understand the full scope of the project include:
- What specific challenges or goals do you need to overcome with this project?
- What are the desired outcomes of this project?
- What metrics will you use to measure the success of the project?
- What’s your timeline for completing the project?
- Do you have a defined budget for the project?
- Have you hired consultants in the past, and how did you find it?
- What were the successes and failures of working with a consultant previously?
Asking open-ended questions like the above will help you get a much deeper insight into the client’s needs and whether or not you align on things like budget and scope of work.
Gaining deep insights from the offset will help you write a far more effective consulting proposal and give you the information you need to effectively soñbe the client’s problems.
Should You Use a Standard Consulting Proposal Template?
Once you have a clear understanding of the project details and 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. Using a simple consulting proposal template is fine. But remember, it’s best to find the right balance between templatizing your proposals and adding custom details or a personal touch to each project.
While the bare bones of your template can be the same for each client, the more you personalize them, the higher your chance for success. People will really appreciate it when you take the time to think specifically about them. If you can show how you can solve your client’s challenges in a specific way, your proposal will stand out from the crowd and be irresistible!
How to Write a Consulting Proposal
A consulting proposal can be anything between a simple email summary and 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.
Take a look at the consulting proposal templates below to get some inspiration for your own proposals.
How to Write a Consulting 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 prospective 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 an example of a 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 Proposal Brochure or Deck
Your PDF proposal can be anything from a simple one-pager to an entire document or 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. An eye-catching cover page can also help your proposal stand out from others.
- Executive Summary: For a lengthy proposal, you can include an executive 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. It’s your chance to prove why they should choose YOU and not the other people pitching for the job.
- 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. This is your chance to get specific and prove that your solutions are more unique than anyone else’s.
- 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.
- Case Studies: If you had similar projects in the past that went really well, you can include a few short references 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 Project Proposal Email Example
Here’s an example of what a simple email proposal could look like for your consulting project proposal.
“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 the 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 so 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 Template
Download this free sample consulting proposal PDF template for your next project negotiation and fill in the specific details unique to your services.
You can also download the consulting proposal template in Google Docs:
Alternatively, you can read more about the popular proposal software options consultants use to create and track stunning proposals in the following article.
Consulting Proposal Best Practices
If you’re still not completely happy with how your consulting proposals are turning out, check out these tips for writing a winning proposal.
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 selling it.
Keep Your Proposal Well Structured
A proposal that doesn’t follow a clear structure will confuse your client and make them question whether they should work with you.
Formatting and structure are crucial parts of writing a great consulting proposal. It’s a formal document, so it should be neat and easy to follow. Make use of headings and bullet points to keep things organized and easy to read.
Saying you will improve a prospective client’s social media to boost their growth is not specific enough. Use data to back up all your points and show you’ve done the research into where they’re currently at.
Making unrealistic claims about what you can achieve can put the client off and could make them think you’re untrustworthy. Be realistic about what you can achieve, and always use data to show why you’re making certain claims, predictions, or statements.
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 work you’ve done 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). Share ideas for how you would create a marketing plan and how you will measure its success.
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, and you’ll rely on various stakeholders like a web developer, designer, and engineer, try to lay down as many tangibles as you can.
You can back up your proposal with evidence 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 or business 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.
Things to Avoid When Writing Your Consulting Proposal
It’s easy to get carried away with the nitty-gritty of your proposal, but there are a few basics to keep in mind when creating a proposal that wows your client.
Forgetting to Proof Read
Submitting a consulting services proposal full of errors will make you look unprofessional and like you lack attention to detail. Make sure you double proof read your proposal before submitting it.
Too Much Consulting Jargon
Your client doesn’t know consulting language so try to write in a way that’s clear and easy to understand.
There’s no set length a consulting proposal needs to be, so if you can get your key points across in a succinct way, great. Fluffy writing won’t cut it and your client won’t be able to clearly see the value you can add to their business.
Being Too Generic
If you send the same proposal to every client you’re pitching, they won’t even take a second glance. We’ve already said it many times in this article, but make your proposal personalized! It will take up more of your time but you want to send something of exceptional quality to prospective clients.
Not Backing Up Claims
Pointing out lots of things wrong with the business you want to work with is fine, but you need to give examples and ideas of how you will change them. Using examples and data to back up what you’re telling the client will help them trust you and see that you know what you’re talking about.
Not Being Clear About Your Payment Terms
Of course you can be a little bit flexible with your payment structures from client to client, but if you aren’t clear about your terms from the offset, it could cause problems further down the line.
Make sure your proposal is clear about how much you will charge for the project, and how the client can pay. What will cost extra? Can the client make payment installments or should they pay upfront? Ironing out these details will enable a smooth working relationship.
Master Your Proposal and Win Your Dream Clients
Writing a consulting proposal isn’t rocket science, it just takes a bit of practice. Experiment a bit, pay attention to what clients like, and do more of it. Think about what makes you unique and play to your strengths.
If you follow the tips in this post on how to write a consulting proposal and download the consultant proposal template, you’ll be well on the way to perfecting your proposal style.
And if you need help managing your leads and invoicing your clients once they’ve signed on the dotted line, check out Paperbell. You can create your free account here.