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Friday, April 29, 2016

8 Things Every Proposal Needs

CEO Jack Cola
Establishing a solid, long-term, working relationship with your clients often hinges on mutual understanding and clear expectations. Thus, drafting and presenting a business proposal that clearly defines roles, responsibilities, and expectations is critical to the success of your projects and maintaining a mutually beneficial business relationship.
Drafting and presenting a business proposal that covers all the bases can be one of your best business assets. Proposals that provide clarity and detail help to ensure you and your clients are on the same page. That’s important for both “one-off” projects and ongoing assignments.
What should your proposals include? At a minimum, every proposal should contain the following pieces of information:
1. The Introduction and Overview
Provide a summary of what your proposal includes and a synopsis of the project and your role in it
2. Scope Of Work
Give details about what you will be doing for your client. Be specific! Take care to spell out exactly what services you’ll provide. The last thing you need is for the client to assume you’ll be doing something that you assumed they’d be doing.
3. Description Of Collaborative Process
This is critical to address because the method of collaboration (face-to-face meetings, phone calls, email, etc.) can significantly impact the amount of time you’ll invest exchanging information with your client.
4. Schedule of Deliverables
Provide a schedule to identify deadlines for different components of the project and for bringing the project to its conclusion. It's also important to highlight that your timeline will be dependent upon the client’s responsiveness—or lack of—in providing you with the information and answers you need.
5. Pricing/Rates
Make sure your client understands your rate structure and pricing so there are no surprises—or pushback—when you send your invoice.
6. Billing Terms And Conditions
This, too, should be crystal clear to your clients. Will you request a down payment? Are your billing terms net 7, net 20, net 30 or some other arrangement? How do you accept payments?
7. Thank You Statement
Never underestimate the power of being polite. Always take the opportunity to let your clients know you appreciate them.
8. Signature Line
That’s right…ask them to sign off on your proposal to indicate they understand, agree with, and accept what you’ve presented.
As with any agreement, having your proposal in writing will help you in the long run if down the road you and your client aren’t seeing eye to eye. While email exchanges provide you some protection when working with a client, a signed document (either hard copy or via electronic signature) makes the arrangement more formal. You can find a ton of online proposal templates out there on the web and there are even cloud-based proposal creation platforms you can subscribe to.
Whether you’re a seasoned business veteran or just getting your business off the ground, make proposals a priority when doing business with your clients. Regardless of how you choose to produce your proposals, you’ll save yourself a lot of headaches down the road by ensuring you and your clients have a clear "meeting of the minds."  Plus, if confusion arises over time, its always helpful to refer back to the written proposal to refresh everyone's memory about their roles, responsibilities, and expectations.  

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