The Successful Consulting Proposal – 3 Essentials

Consultants can spend a lot of time writing proposals, and it’s important that time isn’t wasted. Obviously some of it will, as some proposals have little chance of success, and work can’t be reused, but we need to maximize our chances of success as well as follow on work. Here are three essentials.

1) Don’t submit a proposal every time you are requested to. Ask a lot of questions first. Is there a favorite already? What about scope? Is it in your area of comfort? A consultant can spend all their time just writing proposals, and that obviously does no good. You must be selective, even if you really need the work.

2) The proposal must address the core problem the client has. They may be asking for band aid fixes and trying to relieve symptoms. Ideally, you can find the root of the issue and address that. Actually solving problems will get you follow on work, not merely doing what is requested like sheep. Companies have enough sheep; they’re called employees. You are a consultant.

3) Give the client multiple ways to say yes. A proposal cannot be “yes” or “no.” There need to be multiple options. I always make one option the barebones option. This is one that will address the issue with a minimum of work and cost. I always have a midrange option, which offers more value at more cost, and a high end option. The high end option can go way above what was originally requested, and sometimes the client will accept it.

I’ve been consulting for over 20 years, and still am not fantastic with proposals, but I’ve found these three essentials to have enormously improved my consulting business.