Top Tips for Creating Great Proposals with JP Stallard


How to Design a Proposal


Lesson Info

Top Tips for Creating Great Proposals with JP Stallard

And now I want to welcome my friend j p up to the stage I'm so happy that he's here yeah you gotta have you so happy here here so I'm I yeah much for having me yeah so I'm going to dio just you're in terminal reader bio yes ok please do all right so I've read this in a while. Okay? So everybody this is j p stahl erred he's the founder of solved a boutique product design agency in san francisco where his role is to lead visual and interaction design for next generation consumer electronics and mobile phones, handheld products and television platforms for local and international in clients which include google, samsung, kodak, polycom and various startups and he's also the co founder of art of sport a limited edition living room war the a poster company for sports fans that like aesthetics too yes and breathe did I miss anything? Uh nothing important okay does make me think I need to make that by a lot shorter otherwise thes sections over thank you s so uh j p s company solve would you s...

ay your motto? Our mission is uh we're going to be nice have fun. Yeah, which I appropriated from, uh artist on a poster so I did the funding because you if you don't have fun, why do it yeah, well that's what I want to do to be of fund so I feel like that's probably why we like each other so yes so I wanted to bring j p up he his run his own company for him it was our eighth anniversary on friday. Yeah, so I would imagine you have a lot of experience in the proposals and pitching's yeah does business on dh I would love to get your purse effective, you know, for for everybody yes, well, uh he's a wonderful word earlier about courtship and that's what it is the first time debating whether you're doing a first pitch or you're doing a second third tent pitched the same person first one is very much like a dating process. Andi I couldn't have imagined a better analogy for yeah, I thought should I? I don't know. It seems kind of like on the nose, but it's it's very appropriate is very appropriate and the same banks that goes into courtship goes into having a living and making money and enjoying at the same time. So when we started uh back in two thousand seven, which was a very distant land far, far away where unicorns did not exist, what was two thousand seven like? Oh, it was a black and white I opened was just a ll hills on dh er we crafted and crafted and crafted and crafted our proposals because we really needed the money yeah, so we thought we have to put everything that could possibly go wrong into this five page document off pure gold on dh handed over to them in the nicest possible way with all the stuff you were talking about on dh having a template would you condemn old and working at all this stuff? But at that time is just about right we need a project let's get it done. Come on, come on, come on. But we went to the ends degree of detail so we would have for this for the first client we ever had. It was five pages but it was only like a month project but we put out we would do this work then would have a review them would do this work and I reviewed the move the final work and have this review then the next phase will be this and this this and then after time we realized that we were spending more time on the a proposal that we were on doing the design work. I mean and that's when we realized that the proposal itself is just an agreement it's just a decision tio do the work not for the person that we're doing it for, but probably for the procurement people or for that person's see period to sign off on something yeah, I think that's monica's example is like the procurement people that they told you to get paid you need they needed this document right yeah and they just needed you to write a blurb yeah, we were talking about that earlier she just had to write like a little one liner blurb yeah, I design things for you yeah he's in fact meant for them I know that so since that point on the first times we used to work with we're start ups in the bay area and kodak and they were a very bureaucratic company they no longer exist in the way that we used to know them but we'd have to do these detailed proposals and then sign the marshal service agreement and create a statement of work and have it signed off a month ahead of time before we could start to think and now we live in a very different world seven eight years forward procurement has changed in a major way that is mohr subservient to the product which need to produce for that company rather than being the gatekeeper for the finances off that company. So it's a much smoother operation on dh the proposals that we produce now are maybe one or two pages long and they have less detail in them but that's only possible because of the relationships that we've grown up yeah and you're doing probably in your initial client meetings you're doing more of the pitch where you talk about the team and your philosophy and yes, those kinds of yes do you do you put um anything about the team or about solve into the proposals or is it really just here's the plan for getting the work done? Yes. So, uh we still use the same template that we had eight years ago. We've just updated the father so white it looks very old on change the colors every now and then see make a templates but this has been working hard for eight years scream because I love it I was looking template in the business man and boy yes. Um so we, um we do have about us but that's a recent addition maybe two years ago because we realized that we had a very unique offering where the studio I solve is a very bespoke or b teak on small he's a real term there's three of us and one of us is in chicago, andi it's very hard to compete against large organizations like frogger idea when you're three people and your voice is going oh hello a supposed to them with fifteen people in the room for that one project so we really had to sell our individual skills and who we were as people first and if we were to able toe generate that trust then they would work with us here and that sport proposal is is just an ability to formalize trust between you and the person is asking to do the work. Yeah, ok, so with that, I think that's totally true. So with that, I have some questions specific questions that I want to ask you. Ok, so how much time do you spend on his death and marketing? And how much time do you spend designing? Um, it's a good question and a tough one as well. So there is I mean, the short answer is fifty fifty or sixty fourteen for business, business and development way. Wait sixty percent business. Yes, right. Well, yeah, because I'm really good at designing tio. Well, yeah, I think it's the proposal ready for six years. I also I have another good reason to build a template. Is that it's it's incredibly boring to write proposals, but worth it? I made the point earlier that it's in a monetary sense don't credit emotional sense, yes. So sixty forty. But when I say best if I just mean being, uh, the human speaking for the humans on during that interaction, I'm telling people what I do know I am what I'm on, what really excites me. I'm trying to get them too creator a circle of trust around me as an individual that would want them to work with me, yeah, oh, I'm sorry, I just interrupt you but I um I was sort of saying while about the sixty forty but I was saying that because I want you guys to understand like in addition to the proposal process that that the sixty forty is very true you are going to spend a lot of time not designing on that doesn't mean it's going to be all proposal writing but that working for yourself doesn't mean oh my god it's great I have forty hours you know, a week that I can work and just before we continue sorry and I'm just wondering what does business I mean because I have no idea if anybody here knows but just to clarify for anyone matching so best of we're going to talk about that in the other class but business is it? I think the definition is about creating long term value for your business, right? So j p is talking about investing in in the relationship right? So you might want to design a logo for a client and like that's the near term goal. But the real goal is to keep a client for years right? You're investing in a relationship with them, right? You're creating long term value it could be with your clients that can also be in partnerships, right? So let's say that you're getting a lot of work and they want to have a, um uh it's for people people want aps built and your ah user interface designer and you are always looking for an engineer because you're losing out on work because you can't deliver like the full service that the client wants. You're going to have to go out and find an up developer that you can work with and that's that's business development for your business right? Investing in these these values for your business yeah, I mean the way that we develop our business is through personal relationships through reaching out to random people and saying I really like what you do or last night I hosted a drinks of enforcement patrick's day on dh we I got to meet a tremendous but like old clients and hoping new clients on dh new people and more of a personal approach to business development for our for our studio awesome. Ok, next question um, how much time does it take you to write a proposal? And are there any shortcuts? Uh yes there's my palmer to dio partner quick um short cuts eso what we generally do we should probably not. The best thing to say on camera is, um the reason this templates lasted for eight years is because we take the previous project and then a changing whatever the proposal we did a proposal for airbnb, so we did a project for them and another client comes into us and says, we need to have a similar kind thing. Yeah, yeah, definitely. And then open up, find a replace change. They're being b two, um, hasty sea and then hope you found all of those and then you change some of the set on dh. Sometimes I'll come back and say, yes, you missed this this's a baby still in a sorry apologize, it's great. Yeah. Used to look behind the curtain. Yeah, uh, tips for making a quick um, once you have built up a basic relationship is possible to reduce the content off that proposal so you can make it as short as you need to to get through procurement, but also tio get through whatever process they have on once you know their process, you can make it as open as possible. Good. The basic thing we just we'd sell our time is what we do on dh things get done in that time. So the anything that we do sell is that on we say, right, we're going to do for weeks for design three weeks with that I've been in two weeks for promotional as opposed to spilling everything cow and I got great that's done let's start doing it, yeah, um, I think that's because you have these undercoat relationship of clients and you, you've whittled down, I think in the beginning over right, your proposal and then and then get more comfortable on dh focused on that way you build trust? Yeah, with them because I see so you're process. Yeah, and speaking of building trust, okay, j p is like one of those people that you just want to meet. He's like a charismatic, he has an english accent, you know, we're in the same industry, he's like a smart guy and who was this boat? And so I'm dying to ask you, like, what are your top tips for making a good impression on clients and people? I personally think that you do that all the time, and when I think about who do I know that's, like, really savvy or, you know, those kinds of things I think of you on dh, you're welcome, and, um, but how do you how do you build a relationship? Inspire confidence? Like, what can you do, tio to get people want to hire you? Um so I thank you very much he's way we're talking about culture when you know, so what I try to do is I see them as people rather than is, uh, buckets of cash. But to help for my lifestyle yeah, so that that starts pretty well because when you start to deal with them in a different way, you start seeing the human on and I start to think about how would I like to be treated if I was if the roles were reversed so I tried to empathize from the other side and go well, if I've been in meetings all day long, the last thing I want to do is be in another meeting. So what would I maybe, you know, being an englishman on dh um uh, on a strong drinker, I'd obviously want to go to the bar, so I say to the client, what would you like to go to the bar? And they love that idea because it's not a meeting room and it's not boring and that's, not bad coffee there's a nice car, ten in front of them and I get them. I treat them the way that I would like to be treated. So I think I'm getting the client off their turf is a really great thing. Um, you know, uh, meeting someone for coffee, you know, kind of family into something that would be nice for them, you know, and even nice for you, it's like, it doesn't have to be this crazy, weird, uptight yeah you can be like we're getting to know each other as people because we are going to establish this business relationship with terms that are designed to protect you and me but we're gonna have fun doing it and I think the relationship side of of the whole deal is in the report and the trust is totally important I love getting off site going outside and then the last thing that I want to do is talk about work because they want to talk about work because it's work and talk about things that they really care about and they're interested in so do some research before hand there's a fantastic application called refresh which is it's legalized talking which is really I don't know it's talking is legal but it's a fun because you download them and you just type refreshing and it will scrub your social networks your email your calendar on dh it'll fifteen minutes before you have a meeting with somebody give you a dossier on that person from their entire network so I went to a client yeah like way like I said it's scary uh I'm like scary good or scary scary so I think it's the right thing I'm supposed to do but whenever I go in your place to use it in conversation so did you enjoy your dinner last e o but there was one guy who was was that I start up around the corner on dh I went and I just got my notification saying this person's been at the company for almost a year you should congratulate him on that so he's never met me before and I go in and I say hi very nice to meet you so congratulations and being here always tio wait don't go hungry so I just had to do that because then I told the whole story but doing your research understanding and then speaking to them about things that they care about and that sets the level off the other person which is which you're an instrument for, you know, sometimes uh designers have a desire to be the most important person the room, but we're always subservient to the client unless what is running for ourselves and I advocate everyone doing that because it makes your soul grow a little bit more but when you're running for somebody else, your doing what they require so it's always good to frame every conversation around that yeah, and I think to your point, you know the conversation maybe the client doesn't want to talk about work you're going to know from your client pretty quick how bad they want to talk about work because most clients are not gonna be able to stop themselves you know what I mean it's like oh, you know, nice to meet you like, oh, you live in maria no that's so great and all of a sudden their brain is going to switch because you know, they're they're they're hiring you because they need to accomplish something, but they're going. They're going to guide you in how how casual they want to be and how you know how, uh, kind of on it and professional they want to be, and you have to have a lot of empathy and kind of feel that out what's right for one client is not necessarily yeah, and it ze yeah, you like the email you have it's about being having a genuine common in that but genuine comment throughout your thread over being a professional and the or, um so his one of the practical thing to look up on the web. Uh, the ten tricks of a con man wow! Now, wait, I'm in explain why, so I'm going to use your powers for good or evil. I I've just sold this hole studio there was a man in the I've read it in a while, but it's a fantastic liste um, in the nineteen thirties, he was put in jail because he sold the eiffel tower twice. Two american officials small first mar, he stole five thousand dollars from al capone okay on dh survived wow and then he finally got put in jail for something else like tax evasion I imagine quite sure but he put together a list of ten things that a con man should do to calm people. It just so happens those ten tips are the exact skills that designers needs designing that's about our profession forget this class just just public sends um I read those and I went are cranky they do with those things already so you know always on empathizing from the other person's point of view andi speaking about things that they want to speak about if they bring up any particular hot button subject if they do it twice they obviously want to talk about it so then you can then have a discussion about it wow on dh in his case he doesn't always agree with that but um then a chocolate I hate chocolate tio so weird why should my dogs available? Yeah like um so it's a good thing to look up it was on cocky about five years ago. Okay? Katie used cocaine trotsky see there you go. I don't say his name. Oh, jason hey, t yeah, I'm sure there's gonna be a link somewhere just yeah, just look up tips for being cynical man on dh it's a it's a fascinating read but that essentially what I do and gets and like people, but I also love meeting strangers, so you were a convent and you didn't know it basically, I was cutting myself. Thank you for bringing me out. Ok, last question um and this is something you can answer with a cz much specificity, as you would like, I know that talking about salaries and talking about close rates and talking about the like performance of your business khun b touchy, but but what is a good return on the sixty percent of time that you're doing for business development? You know how much I've seen that convert into, like actual clients? So it's ah it's a good question because you have to really not take failure personally, everyone's going to fail in here on the camera everywhere just deal with it it's gonna happen when you start depending upon how you get your clients, you're gonna have like a seventy five percent failure rate off no be getting back to you nobody wants to work with you, they don't like your style, it doesn't suit their brand whatever those reasons are, as taylor swift says, just shaking yeah she's, pretty good shaking everything called it's fine on um we on the other and been very lucky because we've kept our studio small for ah a reason that we what the main reason that we don't have a big beast of feed we don't have huge overheads every single month and being a freelancer that makes it so much easier there's no huge let's rent and there's food and then there's probably like it they be creative suite in there somewhere way but we kept a small subscription yeah and one thing about keeping it was there's no big beast defeat but that means we have to select the projects that we want to do so we've we have say like was there someone liken seventy five to eighty percent success rate that's really good because it's all through word of mouth on dh it's the clients come to us and we say yeah and we get to know them when we get to understand their real needs and that we deliver that um but on the sixty percent of whether I do throughout the year it's varies on dh for each client varies and how we also create the proposal for each client barry's don't you also see a return on that sixty percent investment like an unexpected or different ways it's not like a real person that you talk tio that you read a proposal for me it is like oh against a client like this is so great I'm just walking on the street like clients and used that you also start to realize that people speak to each other yeah, strange. So I'm having a meeting with you when you have only spoken to that person? Yeah. That's all yeah. So then you get a project from that person, but not from this one. And it's, it's, it's going like facebook, but in the real world, you know, you get to everyone's connected and how you act, how act right now is gonna have an effect in fight and fifteen years? Yeah, yeah, awesome. Any party words, uh, have fun. I don't work hard. Be nice on don't take it, tio. Seriously, um, half the time, I think being a designer was worrying whether their skills are good enough on by making my charge in the right amount. You know, if it's wrong, and then you would chance and something good will come back said, just worry less and do more. Yeah, awesome. Thank you so much. Yeah, this was super fun. Thank you.

Class Description

Proposals and contracts are an essential component of landing big contracts, but they can be a ton of work. Learn the efficient way to draft proposals and get insights of all aspects of getting paid in How to Design a Proposal with Arianna Orland.

Arianna has a thriving freelance business in San Francisco and in this class, she’ll give you the inside track on charging your your work. 

You’ll dive deep into:

  • Proposal and contract creation
  • Resources for writing business documents
  • Statements of Work (SOW)

You’ll find out what is important to include in your documents, what to leave out, and how long each one should really take.

It is crucial to get paid for your time – learn the right way to make that happen from Arianna Orland in How to Design a Proposal.



Super helpful process driven and succinct; Orland's CL proposal class will be especially useful for newly minted freelancers who want to understand the ins and out, the process of making proposals. Great class material comes with the purchase.