I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: you should package your services. I talk about this a lot in The Systems Society. There are so many benefits to doing this and it completely changed my business. But there are some circumstances when packaged services simply don’t fit what a client needs. That doesn’t mean that you can’t work with that person! You just need to build out a custom quote for a one-off package or retainer services that does include everything they need. Typically when you do this, you deliver it to them in the form of a new client proposal.
A client proposal is some sort of document that outlines the details of this custom package. It includes: (a) the scope of work, and (b) the price.
And, as a reminder — any projects like this should be more expensive (to account for the fact that it’s custom). You may also only want to take them on a limited basis. Don’t feel pressured to take on tons of custom clients, especially if you have packaged services that make up the bulk of your revenue.
As a systems expert, I’m all about creating more efficiency in your business to make it easier and more fun for you! Packaged services are a great way to do that, although sometimes custom projects are necessary (and can be really fun!).
But that doesn’t mean that they have to be totally custom. There are some ways that you can systemize things like a client proposal so that it is still easy (and a lot quicker to do).
In this post, I’m going to share how you can use systems to streamline your client proposal process.
What is Included in the Client Proposal Process?
Great question, glad you asked! Since proposals are associated with custom projects, you may be thinking to yourself: “Client proposal process? What the heck is that?!”
But again, just because the project is custom doesn’t mean that you can’t have a basic process that you follow for things like:
- Completing the discovery call (learn more about my discovery call system here!)
- Creating and sending the proposal
- New client onboarding
- Service delivery (this one is trickier, but some elements can usually be systemized!)
Sending a client proposal is a process that usually has steps like this (yours may look slightly different, but this is what I do!):
- Send a discovery call follow-up email
- Outline the scope of work and deliverables
- Create a quote
- Design the proposal
- Deliver the proposal to the client
- Follow up with the client
Once you identify the basic steps to follow during your client proposal process, it becomes a bit easier to systemize the whole thing.
You may want to set up a template workflow in your project management system. Then, each time you need to do a proposal, you remember to follow these steps.
There are also things you can do within each of these steps to make the process easier + quicker!
Discovery Call Follow-Up Email
It may work differently in your business, but for me, having a discovery call is typically the first interaction that I have with someone who will be receiving a client proposal. You can read more about my discovery call process in this post.
There aren’t too many changes to this system when there’s a proposal involved. The only thing that changes is the post-discovery call emails, which look a little different (I’ll explain, keep reading!).
Either before the call (after reviewing the intake form) or during the call as I’m talking with the client, I identify whether or not I think that this client’s needs will fit one of my packaged services. If I don’t think those services will be a good fit for them, I let them know that I need to create a custom quote for what they are looking for. If they are on board with this, I let them know on the call when to expect their proposal by.
Then, after the discovery call, I send a follow-up email later that day. This recaps what we talked about on the call and confirms that they will receive their proposal soon.
The reason I send this email is because I want to get them excited to receive their proposal. It normally takes a few days to complete. So I don’t want to leave them hanging with no communication in the meantime. A follow-up email helps reassure them that I’m on top of it and they’ll receive their quote soon.
You can systemize this step of the process by creating a template email for this circumstance. (Hint: My template for this is inside of The Systems Society!).
Outline the Scope of Work and Deliverables
Unfortunately, this is the one step of this process that can’t really be systemized too much. This is the “custom” part of your custom package! But I still have some tips…
After the discovery call, sit down and review all the notes you took during the call. Think about what their scope of work will include and what the deliverables will be. This will look totally different depending on what type of business you have. But it should be clearly defined and fit their needs.
One thing that I find helpful to do when I’m on this step of the process is to use my proposal template (I’ll talk more about this in a second) as a guide. My proposal template has a certain flow to it, so I basically outline it in a Google Doc before I finalize the design. And as I’m building out the scope of work, I follow along with what I typically include on each page of the proposal.
Again, it’s hard to give exact directions for this since everyone’s business is so different! But if you want to see the Client Proposal Outline Google Doc that I use when creating proposals, that’s also inside of The Systems Society!
Create the Quote
Once you have the scope of work and deliverables fully outlined, now you can accurately decide what this custom project is going to cost.
Remember: since this project is custom, it should be priced as such! (If they want more affordable services, they can go with your packaged offerings.)
For this, I actually use a quote generation calculator that I created for myself (not to sound like a broken record, but again — this is all inside of The Systems Society!). If you don’t have something like this for your business, I highly recommend creating it. It basically is a spreadsheet with formulas that account for my hourly rate, my team members’ hourly rates, setting aside money for taxes, any other expenses that this project will incur, etc.
I go through all of the elements of the proposal and price out each thing. Then, add it all up — and that’s the quote!
If you’re new with custom projects like this and are used to charging hourly, I highly recommend overestimating the cost of things. Custom projects always take longer than you think they’re going to, so you want to make sure you’ve taken that into consideration when quoting your clients.
And, especially with custom projects, it’s really important to set and enforce your boundaries so that you don’t have to deal with scope creep!
Design the Client Proposal
Once you’ve got the proposal outlined and the quote set in stone, it’s time to design it! I use a proposal template that is the same every time — we just switch out the words and specific details.
I love using a template because it’s gorgeous. It also makes the client feel special to receive something that’s beautiful and designed just for them! (They don’t have to know that you reuse the same template every time!).
To try and make it extra special, I do try to infuse as much personalization into the template as possible when creating it for each client. (The bigger the proposal, the fancier I get!) But having a base template as a foundation and guide is a HUGE time-saver.
You can create your own client proposal template using a tool like Canva. (There’s one inside of The Systems Society, too!).
Deliver the Proposal to the Client
Now that your proposal is all designed and ready to go, it’s time to send it over! Send an email to your prospective client that lets them know their proposal is ready to be viewed, and attach the proposal PDF to the email.
Similar to the discovery call follow-up email, you can make this easier and faster by using an email template for this! Just switch out the attachment each time.
Follow Up with the Client
Typically, especially if you’re sending a fancy proposal, your client will get back to you after reviewing it. And then you can proceed with your regular client onboarding system!
But if you don’t hear back from them, make sure to have a follow-up email template that you can send to check in with them and make sure they don’t have any questions.
As you can see, although putting together a client proposal does include quite a few custom elements. You can’t get around that, since it’s a custom project. But there are some tips and tricks that you can implement to make the process a bit more systemized so that it’s a lot easier for you!
Next time you create a client proposal, it should go much faster!