Proposals That Wow
when my husband and I started our podcast production agency, we got an inquiry for a new client, like right out of the gate, somebody that we didn't know, I was tasked with putting that first proposal together, putting this proposal together was kind of terrifying. What I realized in creating that proposal, that a proposal is less about selling what you're offering and more about helping your client or prospective clients feel heard and understood. So let's talk about proposals that wow, I want you to be able to create something fantastic that knocks your client's socks off without having to over promise or go way above and beyond what is actually necessary to get them the results that they want. So a wow proposal does not have to be super customized or really customized at all. We'll talk about that, it does not have to go above and beyond. Oftentimes service providers try and cram as much stuff in there as they can because they think, oh, that's what's going to sell. But what really ...
sells is showing people clearly and simply how to get the results that they want to get and it doesn't have to promise the world. You don't have to guarantee these fancy results or or through the roof metrics, what you really need to promise is what your clients are looking for. And that all brings us back to our guiding principle of building a simple sustainable business. So a while proposal does not have to impress your client instead, your goal with a wow proposal is to show them that you understand their goal. If there is nothing else that you take away from this lesson on proposals, it should be that piece. Your proposal should be designed to help your prospective clients know that you understand what their goal is. If everything in your proposal points back to their goal, you are going to have a phenomenal close rate with your new clients. A proposal can also help you explain how your process is going to achieve that goal and it's going to communicate the specifics that you both need to agree on to make that all happen. So the first place that I like to start is with these for wow questions. These are the four questions that are going to provide the backbone for your proposal. The first, it's all about the end result. What does the client ultimately want from working with? You might be that they want to make a career change or have someone take over their marketing for them. There's all sorts of end results that people are looking for, but you really want to nail what that end result is for your client. The easiest way to do this. Listen to them. Listen, when they tell you this is what I want, that's the end result that they're looking for. The second question is all about purpose. Why do they want that end result? What purpose does it serve for them? So they might want to make a career change because they're bored at work and they're looking for something more exciting or maybe they want to make a career change because their interests have shifted or they've learned a new skill and they want to put that to work at work. Maybe they're just looking for a raise, they're looking for a promotion so that their purpose, again, the easiest way to consider why your client wants, what they want is to listen or to just ask them third. I like to think about obstacles because the reason that they're hiring you is to help them overcome obstacles. There is something in their way, there's something that, you know, they've tried to do or they've tried to think through that is preventing them from act actually realizing the end result that they're looking for. So consider what obstacles do your clients run into when they're trying to do this for themselves? And again, listen, ask them, hey, why haven't why hasn't this worked out for you before? Why hasn't this been something that you've decided to take on yourself? Have you tried doing this yourself? And what was your experience with that? When you listen to that kind of information, you can build a proposal that really outlines how you help them overcome those obstacles and that's super powerful. And then finally problems and with problems, what I mean is problems that they might have run into with other service providers that could be direct competitors of yours, but it could also be service providers that aren't your direct competitors but they might have hired in the past to help them get that end result, but it wasn't the right fit, it wasn't actually the right solution for them. And so you want to be thinking about, okay, how how has this not worked out in the past for them and how does hiring my business actually overcome those problems? And again, listen to your clients. They will tell you about the problems that they've had with other service providers that they have hired over the years now. I want to give you an example of what this actually looks like. So we're going to use my company, Yellow House Media where a podcast production agency we work with small business owners to help them produce podcasts and you'll give you the rest of the elevator pitch, but you're going to see it here in these questions. So that's also a good hint on how this all works. So the end result that our clients at Yellow House are looking for is that they want to be the talent. They have absolutely zero interest in the technology, the equipment, the project management, even how the podcasting process works. They want to be able to show up, do a great interview, handed over to us and get a finished product back. So that is what we promise. That's what we offer. That's what we lead with in every sales call. That's the end result that our clients are looking for and the reason that we were able to come up with that is because that's what I heard from podcasters all the time, podcasting takes so much work, there's so much of the process that I don't really stand, I'm afraid of how much work it's going to take. And so that's when I started to think, oh, there's a market here for a company that can come in and literally take all of that work off their hands. And so that has been our main brand promise as a company and it's baked into every proposal that we do the purpose. The reason why this is so important to them is, you know, this, you're already overworked. Think about adding a podcast onto your current workflow. Where does it fit? It doesn't right. You might have time to do two or three interviews a month, but you don't have time to edit it to create promotional graphics for it to figure out how to get it on to apple podcasts and stitcher and Spotify. So that's why our clients are really interested in getting that work off their plate. They want to have a podcast, sometimes desperately want to have a podcast, but they don't want to learn a whole new suite of skills and they certainly don't want to find the time before it. Third, let's look at obstacles. Again, one of those obstacles is that podcasting can be incredibly time intensive. A lot of podcasters get started not realizing how much time actually goes into creating a podcast episode. So this is either something that they've thought about and want to avoid or it's something they've already experienced for themselves. Also with podcasts, the technology can be confusing. A lot of people maybe yourself included, don't actually understand how the Mp three file gets on all the different platforms. I, you know, we could take some time and I could explain that to you, but you don't want to know and neither do our clients. And so that's another obstacle that we help them overcome. And then finally, problems the problems that they've experienced with other service providers or might experience with other service providers for us, that means that often our clients have worked with editors in the past or they've worked with a virtual assistant in the past to try and take some of the work off their plate, but they end up in a project management role and often end up still doing a lot of the work themselves. So while there's absolutely nothing wrong with hiring an editor or hiring a virtual assistant to help you with your podcast, it's not the full experience that we provide. And so that becomes part of what we communicate in our proposal process as well. So once you've answered those four most important while proposal questions, we need to think about scope of work, scope of work if you're not familiar with the phrase simply means, what are you doing for this client? It's what's included and what's not included. And so when I think about scope of work, the very first question I want to ask is what is the simplest way for me to provide the end result that the client is looking for? Let me say it again. The simplest way. This is often the part of the proposal process where people get fancy and they get fancy in a way it reduces profit, reduces flexibility and often reduces end results as well. You don't need to cram in a whole bunch of extras here. We want to focus on simple. This is an ongoing process. I will fully admit that it at yellow house where all the time thinking, wow, we could add this in, we could add that in. We could do this other thing that we know our clients need, but it's not in scope of work. And so sometimes we think maybe we want to expand the scope of work. Maybe we want to change prices to really accommodate that expanded scope of work. But most of the time we want to say no, that's not included. We don't want to do that. We don't want to promise that. So always start off by thinking what is the simplest way that you can get your client to the end result that they're looking for. Once you've got the simplest way, then you can ask yourself what will set your proposal apart from your competitors, whether their direct competitors are sort of adjacent businesses that offer similar services. This is the place where you can add in one or two of those special details, the things that really make your business unique that make your perspective especial suited to the clients that you're working with. So this is where you can have a little bit of fun with your scope of work, where you can think, oh, you know, I don't have to do this, but this is really going to make the end result for the client as good as possible. It's going to make me happy. I'm gonna be excited about that work and it's going to make the sale that much easier to secure. So that's the scope of work piece. Third, I want to look at the timeline, I want to think about what is the expected timeline for this client project, whether it's an ongoing project or whether it's a one off. The reason I think timeline is really important with proposals is that it helps the client know at what stage you're at at any given time and it helps them know that you have a plan because it's one thing to say, I'm going to do this work for you and you're going to get this end result. It's another thing to say, this is the work I'm going to do for you. This is how it's going to work itself out. this is how we're going to tackle it together and then by the end of that process you're going to have your end result that communicates so much more confidence, so much more expertise to your client and it's going to make them feel really supported and confident in working with you. So whatever service it is that you're providing, there is some sort of timeline for it. Maybe there's two stages, Maybe there's four stages, Maybe there's six stages. This is something that's going to be really dependent on your particular business. But in terms of putting your proposal together, what sort of that overview kind of plan that you can communicate to a client to let them know where they're headed to let them know that they're in good hands and to give them an idea of how the whole process is going to evolve. The other thing that I want to think about with timeline is what is the projected end date for this project. Right, So that yellow House media, that means that we think about, you know, how long does it take to take a podcast from zero to launch? We thought in the beginning it would take us maybe two months, then we thought it would take us three months really with the demands that our clients are under from other work. It takes 4 to 5 months. Um and so that's been an evolving process for us and that's something that we are really proactive about communicating with our clients. Now there's some other things that you might want to consider adding into your proposal, the first one and this one I I feel like if you're going to add anything else in this is the one to add in its client responsibilities. So client responsibilities are the things that you need from your client to be able to do the work. For instance if you're a web designer you're going to need copy from your client. You want to know what copies going on their homepage, what copies going on their about page, what copy is go going on their sales page because otherwise it's really hard for you to do your job. So what are the deadlines there? How long is that going to take your client? What do they need to know in terms of getting you those raw materials, you can actually make the website happen if you include that stuff in your proposal. It sets the expectation that your client has responsibilities as well. That this is a mutual project. The second thing that I highly recommend including is your communication policy. This is important because everyone has a different set of expectations of how they're going to communicate with you at yellow house are preferred mode of communication is email. We talk to our clients on zoom once a month but everything else happens over email. We don't join other slack groups. We don't let people DM us on some random social media platform to tell us something about their show. All of our business communication with our clients has to go through email. So we put that in our proposal. Again, it's setting that expectation for exactly what the client can expect from working with us. The third thing you might want to consider is whether or not you'll have a kill fee or a work stoppage clause in your proposal. So what is it going to take if your client decides to kill the project? Is there a fee that you charge for that? Um what is the policy that you have on when you'll stop work on a project? So for instance, if we're talking about those client responsibilities, let's say you're a web designer, you signed a contract with with a client. They are due to send you copy at the end of the month. Well the end of the month comes and goes, then the end of the next month comes in Goes and then the end of the next month comes and goes and you're sending out reminders, but they are just, they've left they are out of the building, right? You have not heard from them and you do not have what you need to do the project. When do you draw the line? Is it? After 30 days, is it after seven days, is it after 90 days? Again, it's going to totally depend on your service, your clients, your kinds of projects. But thinking about when you say enough is really important and it's a good expectation to set in your proposal for deliverables, deliverables is anything that you are creating for the client and handing over to them literally what you're delivering for them. There's all sorts of work that's not deliverables, right? It's project management, it's communication, it's the work that you do behind the scenes that the client may never see. But there are specific things that the client will see and by naming those things as part of your scope of work on your proposal, you have a good expectation of what they're expecting from you and they know exactly what to expect from you as well. Fifth revisions this doesn't apply to every service but it applies to a lot, let's say you've created that website, you've handed it over to the client and they're like, oh man this is great. And can we make this change in this change in this change in this change, how many courses of revision are you going to offer to your client? Maybe they get one set of revision or two sets of revisions but you want to make sure that you're not in this never ending process of trying to make all the changes that your clients want to make it exactly what they expected it to be or not. Um And then finally how changes are handled. So this could be additional revisions or it could be additional deliverables or it could be a larger change to the scope of work or a change to client responsibility, there's all sorts of ways that scope of work can evolve and you want to make sure that instead of working outside of the scope of work that your proposal lays out, how changes to the scope of work will be made, how they need to be communicated, how they need to be revised in terms of pricing, all of that stuff needs to get handled. And it goes without saying, I think that part of your proposal is also, this is how much it's going to cost. So making sure that that is baked into your proposal as well of course is key. Now I've got a pro tip for you as I said, I think a sustainable service business is a simple service business. And so my goal with a service based business is to get the business to the point where I don't have to do custom proposals where I don't have to send out a proposal with multiple changes where it takes me any work, I don't want to have to do that. So one of the things that we've done at Yellow House Media is put together a services guide that acts as our proposal. So in this services guide. Everything that I discovered through a custom proposal process um gets baked into this one document that all prospective clients can sort of thumb through and see what all is involved in our service. So once you download the services guide, which is just available on our website, the first thing you find is a little welcome letter from me that tells you a little bit more about yellow house media tells you about what we care about and how we help our clients. I also include in their podcast launch roadmap. This serves a couple of functions. One, it shows them sort of what that process plan looks like, what that timeline looks like. But it also shows them how much of the work we take off of their plate. You can see by the check marks there anywhere. There's one of those yellow check marks. That's something that a podcaster would have to do themselves if they were producing their own show. But instead it's something that we take off their plate. Um, and so this is actually a couple of pages long. And when you see it all together you're like, oh man, yes, I do not want to have to do this myself. I am so totally hiring these people. I also go into exactly what's included in each phase of the podcast launch. So we do it in three phases. This is a look at the third phase here. But the goal here is to really show all right, this is what's included, week in week out. This is the stuff that we're going to be doing for you. So you don't have to. And then of course the pricing piece and we have sort of multiple ways that the pricing works inside of our business, even though the packages are basically the same. Uh and so I just go ahead and lay that out all in one document and that's how we make the proposal process. Basically take zero labor. I don't have to customize a proposal and clients come to us come to that initial consultation with all of this information already in mind. Now putting together proposals can be a bit of a process if you are just starting out or you haven't really thought about how you want to present your information strategically to your client. And the good news is is that there's plenty of software that can help you do this. And one of those pieces of software is fiber workspace. So I'm going to show you how to put together a proposal on fiber workspace that really takes all of this into account. Alright, let's dig into what it looks like to put together a proposal in fiber workspace. So when you log into fiber workspace, you're gonna see a screen that looks like this. It's going to have much better numbers on it than my little demo screen here. But you're gonna see your profit before taxes, you're going to see any outstanding invoices. Um and we'll get into those things as we go. But first, let's put together a proposal because that is the first step to making money. Right? So over here on the left you can click on proposals and then at the top click new proposal and from here it's gonna walk you through it. This does not get any easier. So you can name your project, we'll just call this test project. If you have clients that you've already built in to fiber workspace, you'll see them in the drop down here or add a new client, which is what I'm gonna do now and walk you through that. So this is simple. You want to just put your client's name in here. So like literally we can call it client's name um and then their name again, so you might use that first space for a business name and then the client's name would be your contact there. You're gonna put in their email and then if you have their address and you want to add that in, you can do that if you have their tax information and you want to add that in, you can do that. But really all you need is their name and their email address to save that new client you save. So once you've saved the client you're gonna see that in the client spot. Um and again it's just in that same drop down there. So then you have the option of changing the start date and the end date. So for a proposal where you're doing an ongoing service, like my podcast production company, that's going to be open ended, you don't need to put an end date there. So the start date for this proposal is going to be whenever you have sir decided to get that project started the mutually agreed on start date or if it's something you're just getting started to work on right away, then you can leave it at today. Now, once you're done with that sort of initial setup, you have the option to create a proposal and contract together or just a proposal or just a contract. One thing that I really love about how fiber workspace puts this together is the fact that you can put a proposal and a contract together. Since we're just talking about proposals right now, I'm gonna use proposal only but I would definitely recommend checking out how you can put those two things together. So proposal only, awesome. Then I'm going to click the services button, this is where you're going to describe the service that you're offering sort of in broad strokes. Once we get into the proposal itself, you're gonna be able to add in a lot more detail. So I'm gonna put podcast production because that's what I know best under my services and then I'm going to put in our fee and it's you have some options here is to what that fee entails. So it could be a flat fee if you have just a project fee. So a good example of that would be web design, that's not an ongoing service, you design the website and there is a project fi a flat fee for that service. So you know maybe it's $10,000. That's your flat fee, simple as that for us. We charge for our podcast production on a monthly basis. So I'm going to select per month and then I charge for one unit of podcast production per month. So that's simply what this means here. Then in the description again, I'm thinking broad strokes so I'm gonna be doing uh you know audio editing, content editing, content, strategy, post production. Um what else are we doing? Distribution, guest management, you get the idea just the broad strokes. This is not need to be the detailed part. This is just simply a reminder of what your client is actually paying for. Right. So that is going to give me the sort of financial piece of the services that I'm offering inside of this proposal. Now if you're offering sort of a package of services and they're priced differently. Maybe you offer a la carte services and the client has selected three different services. You can add additional service off Offerings here with additional price points, we'll get rid of that for right now and then you can set up your billing schedule so you can indicate whether or not you require a deposit. If you do, you can enter that here, let's say maybe we do a $500 deposit That is going to figure out that it's 25% of my project total. I want to make that deposit mandatory to approve the proposal. So part of approving the proposal is actually paying that deposit um that keeps everything nice and streamlined. Um and then down here you'll see the sort of the invoicing schedule. I'm going to select monthly because that's how we invoice. I might select today's date and and invoices. Never, that's gonna tell fiber workspace to send out those invoices automatically every month. All right from there. Now that all of that stuff is in there, we can click create proposal in the bottom right corner of the screen and you're gonna see this sort of rendering of what this proposal is actually going to look like. It's gonna have your contact information at the top, it's going to be branded with the logo and the colors that you set up when you set up your profile and then you're gonna see that information that you just entered into your proposal builder. There's the services summary and the billing schedule here. So that's all there Now. Above that though, this is where we can start to do some pretty magical things. You'll notice that there's an option to add a section. And here you can add a simple text box that outlines what all is included in your scope of work, as we talked about earlier. So I'm just going to name this section scope of work. Um I'm gonna pop in some placeholder text here and then I might continue doing the same thing. Text. This might be client responsibilities, right. Same thing. I might add another text, session section for timeline. Uh and then anything else that I want to add in here. You can make this pretty by putting in images. Maybe there is sort of a spec piece of work that you've done that you want to insert here as an image. You can also insert a file. So if I were setting this up for yellow house media, what I would do and what I have done is add my services guide as a file into this proposal. That way I don't have to go back in and add the scope of work, add client responsibilities, it's all there in that file that's attached to the proposal. So you'll want to make sure that you've got all of the information that we talked about in this lesson added into this proposal so that it's clear that it's precise that it gives your client confidence in your process and in working with you and helps you feel confident that your client knows what's what as well when it comes to working with you. Once you've got that together, uh you can go ahead and sign the document for yourself once you've signed it, click continue and that's going to pop up an email that allows you to send the proposal straight to your client, all from within fiber workspace. Of course, you can edit this email as you see fit and make it as personal as you'd like to express your thanks, Let them know that you're excited about working with them and then click send now your proposal has been sent and you can excitedly wait for your new clients response.