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How To Do Killer Consulting Proposals In A Fraction Of The Time

Michelle Dale - Friday, August 16, 2013

I'm always asked about how I do proposals, I think there's an assumption that the bigger, and more detailed, and "novel like" the proposal, the more likely the client will be to agree to it, but I've never found that to be the case, and in fact I've found that the way I provide proposals is quicker and easier than any method I've found elsewhere online.

When I first started out in this business, sometimes a proposal could suck up an entire day, literally, I'd put so much of myself into it, I'd practically do the entire consulting job that I should have been charging for inside the proposal - it was really the most counter-productive way of doing things ever. 

I read all the articles online, downloaded all the proposal 'templates' and used all the jargon I could find to sound professional. It was a complete waste of my time, and as my business grew, I realised I wouldn't be able to do them like that anymore.

The Turning Point

Then I changed my way of thinking, and decided I was going to find the quickest, most effective way of creating a proposal online for clients, and what would usually take me a day, turned into an hour total, 2 maximum if it was a hefty project with ongoing work.

It's not that my proposals are any worse, or less clear, in fact, they are a million times better than they were, the difference is that I use a combination of 2 things that produce a great result fast.

So What Are They?

I can hear you asking this question now. Here is the answer, it's a combination of a simple Freshbooks estimate and a short video, which I try to keep in and around 10 minutes long.

Why this combination works so well...

1 - It's In Your Voice.

First off, the proposal on paper or the template didn't sound like me and the creative ideas I had in mind for the client. It felt almost forced and too formal. I used to sit there with my husband saying, "I would love to do this for them, and this would really work in conjunction with this, and I love how their site is, but I think they should change this..." In the end, I realised that what I was saying to my husband is what I really wanted to say to the client, with clarity, with passion, and with an understanding that I could only convey by vocalising it, and also through visual representation, not jus some words on a piece of paper.

This took me into making video proposals, where I would pull up the clients' sites, information accounts, show examples of other sites I like, or even my own, it gave me a chance to add a visual and audio element to the proposal and create it in my own words, in my voice, in my varying tones.

It made for a much better proposal.

2 - It's Condensed.

Who has the time these days to sit and read long lengthy proposals for a project which may or may not go ahead with that individual? By doing the video method you're conveying clearly what you want to offer, or suggest without wasting precious time, and you're also explaining, but not giving away too much. When I was writing proposals I was just giving so much information away, I either did myself a disservice, overwhelmed the client or simply didn't follow my own golden rule of 'keeping it simple.'

Now several pages of a proposal can be summed up in a video that the client can watch and absorb the gist of in around 10 minutes.

3 - It's Skimmable.

The final part is Freshbooks. I compartmentalise the points in the video into parts of an estimate and then reference parts of the video occasionally in the estimate too, giving the client a link to the video in Dropbox inside the estimate. By bullet listing the points the cost becomes clearer to the client, and I can swiftly add or make changes if there's further need. 


This method works whether the proposal is for a small sum of money like £500 up to estimates I've done for over £10,000 - It's effective, and the response is always good.

If you'd like to see EXACTLY how it's done, (and this is a real goldmine of information as well!!) in this month's VISA tutorial in The VA Passport you'll see an example video of one of these proposals and an example of what one of my estimates looks like that would match it.

Click here to login, to click here to join.

Estimates don't have to be complicated or overly analytical, they need to be clean, uncluttered and leave something to the imagination!

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Hi I'm Michelle, an entrepreneur specialising in virtual assistance, a digital and real world nomad, and a down-to-earth mother of three.

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