If you’re soliciting web design work in traditional ways, a major step in winning jobs is the proposal phase. There are certain things you can do to put yourself and your capabilities in the best possible light, whether you’re outlining what you have to offer in an e-mail message, or submitting a complete proposal.
Here are seven tips to help you improve your proposals.
1. Do Your Research
Perhaps one of the most important things you can demonstrate in your proposal is that you know the client and you understand what they want. This is the first step in appealing to the client’s individual needs. Research the company and thoroughly review their RFP (request for proposal), then be specific about the problem they need to solve. A detailed reiteration of their needs sets the stage for your explanation of how you can meet their needs better than anyone else.
2. Be Specific about Your Capabilities
An effective way to present your capabilities is to refer back to the client’s needs, which you identified previously in your proposal, and state your experience for each item. The more specific you are about how you can solve the client’s problem, the fewer assumptions the client will need to make and the more secure they will feel in their decision to hire you.
3. Provide Examples and/or References
Give your potential client visual examples of past relevant work if possible, referencing one of their stated needs for every example. They want to see what you can do, but most importantly, the client wants to see what you can do for them. It can also speak volumes if you offer references before being asked.
4. Make an Offer They Can’t Refuse
Provide cost and deliverable information that’s as complete as possible, based on the information you have. Propose a detailed timeline for the work. If you typically quote per project, outline everything that’s included in the estimate, even if it seems insignificant. And set a time limit for the proposal. This will encourage the client to act, or at least express interest by asking for an extension, which you can decide whether or not to grant.
It may seem like a no-brainer, but proofread your proposal before submitting it. There is nothing worse than giving the client a proposal with typos or grammatical errors. Have someone else proof it for you to make sure it’s error-free, consistently formatted and looks professional. You want the client to know you put time into preparing the proposal for them.
6. Be Accessible
Make sure you provide your contact information and invite questions. You may even want to propose a phone meeting to discuss their questions or concerns after their initial review.
7. Outline Next Steps
Include a strong conclusion that gives the client a call to action. Reiterate expiration on the terms of the proposal; invite them to contact you any time; and tell them what you need in order to get started (i.e., a signed contract and a deposit).
The most important element of any proposal is showing the potential client you understand their needs and then convincing them that you’re the best choice for the job. Keep that in mind and you’re on your way to proposal writing success.
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Image credit: magurka
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