During your client onboarding process, your potential clients will often ask for a written business proposal that provides them with a strategic framework, outlines project details, and makes sure you are both on the same page before signing a contract. Proposals are more than just formalities on paper; they mark the beginning of a significant client-consultant relationship.
Writing a strong proposal will help your consulting firm turn client interactions into functioning agreements to ensure your clients that you fully understand their needs and goals. An efficient way to write a consulting proposal is to create your own professional services proposal template, which ensures all the important details are covered every single time and reduces your drafting time so you can focus on the specifics.
To help you create the best consulting proposals, let's go over some of the vital elements you must include.
Note: Bonsai helps you draft bulletproof professional services proposals with free templates that you can fully customize to fit your business and client's needs. Along with our excellent follow-up tools, you'll be bringing in new clients in no time! Claim your 14-day free trial here.
Essential Elements of a Professional Consulting Proposal Template
Depending on the specific consulting project, a proposal template might include different types of details. However, there are some main elements that every proposal should cover and will help build a strong foundation so you can just add the necessary project details. When drafting your template, consider a proposal document could be considered a legally-binding agreement, so you want to make sure to include even minor details, so you always stay protected in legal terms.
Take a look at the elements that make up the best consulting proposal template.
Any professional consulting proposal worth the name should include a beautifully designed cover letter or cover page. This is where you will include your business name, logos, registered trademarks and any other branding element you see fit so your clients can easily recognize your proposal. If possible, try to make the design of your cover letter match the project's vibe. So if you're pitching a web design proposal, your cover letter would have a more creative design, but if it's an accounting proposal, you probably want to keep it more on the formal side.
The point is, your cover letter must be appealing to your client. This is their first impression of your business proposal, so if it doesn't catch their attention, the rest will just be an uphill battle to win them over.
Next, include an executive summary, which is simply a straightforward review of the entire proposal, going from objectives to the requirements to make them possible. Consider this as the introduction or 'hook' or your business proposal. You must provide a project summary including the tasks you will complete, and mentioning the difficulties your client is experiencing as well as what the success criteria will be.
All these statements are based on the initial conversation you had with your prospective client regarding the project. Don't go too much into detail here as the specifics will be discussed in the following sections. You basically just want to make it clear that you fully understand your client's problem and know exactly how to help.
This is where you will start to go deep into specifics to clearly outline what you will and will not do. Provide a detailed breakdown of the consulting services you will be providing and the budget for the project. For example, if the project proposal is to optimize a website for SEO, you'll want to specify whether you'll also be rewriting their content or not.
Let your prospective client know how their money will be used by explaining the unique process you'll follow to achieve goals, and resources you will need to complete your tasks (log in details, passwords, access to meeting rooms, etc...). This section might describe, for instance, how long your phone calls or office visits will last and how many calls or visits you commit to making each week.
Solutions and Deliverables
You must ensure that the client is aware of what to anticipate from a contract with you and reduce the possibility of disagreements over obligations by adding deliverables in your proposal. Review the notes you took during your client conversation. Do they require a new advertising approach, website, or marketing strategies? What material goods will they possess once the project is finished? You should list these as your "deliverables" in your proposal so the client will understand exactly what your proposed solution is and what they will receive from the project.
Your project scope describes the 'how', and the deliverables describe 'what'. Now, it's time to describe the 'when'. This section provides a clear timeline for each action item you outlined before, helping you set expectations and establish boundaries with your client. Include the specific project dates and deadlines for all components, including every potential date such as office visits, creation of documents, follow-up emails etc. If you can't afford to get this specific, at the very least you should outline the expected project's start and end date, along with the in-between milestones.
Costs & Payment Terms
You should tell the client up front how much the project will cost. Be specific about your costs and the things they cover. In this portion of your proposal, you should clearly state any payment requirements you may have, such as any deposits or installment payments due on particular days. Additionally, let your clients know of all your accepted payment methods such as credit/debit cards, ACH transfers, online payments, or direct deposits to your business bank account.
One must see to believe. You can discuss the value you'll provide, describe your procedures, and be precise with regard to deadlines. But nothing will spur a potential customer to action like seeing how you used these to deliver tangible results for a client like them. By including a relatable case study, you will be able to demonstrate you have lived up to your promises in the past, thus potentially increasing your conversion rates.
Many prospective clients might actually require to see past evidence before accepting your proposals, so always make sure to support your claims at least with positive reviews from previous professionals you've worked with.
Including a signature section makes for a more effective consulting proposal. Even if your prospective client is still in the consideration stage, explicitly encouraging them to accept your proposal can potentially increase your chances of getting a 'yes'. Leave enough space to include their name, legal signature and the date when the proposal was accepted. While you do have to provide a finalized detailed contract once they accept your proposal, you don't need to lengthen the process by including extra steps needed to accept the offer.
Finally, finish your proposal with a compelling call to action. Give clear guidance on how and when they can send you an email or call you for any clarifications they need. Reiterate your contact information and if you're planning to follow up with a call or an email, let them know when you will do so. This increases your chances of getting an answer as you will create urgency and prompt your client to stay in contact with you.
Use Our Free Consulting Proposal Template
No matter what type of professional consulting business you have, having a well-designed template will be a great way to ensure a smooth and efficient client intake process. If you're still not sure of how to structure your own template, or simply don't have the time to do it, we have the best solution for you. Use Bonsai's free consulting proposal templates, especially designed for professionals in your industry.
All aspects of our free templates are completely customizable to help you create a tailored, client-winning proposal. Once you customize the template to your liking, you can save it in your preferred file format (Microsoft word, pdf, excel, etc...), and create a consulting proposal in no time by only adding the specific information about your new clients. Plus, Bonsai helps you to easily follow-up on each proposal you send out by sending automatic reminders as well as notifications when the offer is received and your potential client signs the document.
Get your free consulting proposal template today, and while you're at it, start your 14-day free trial to access many other excellent administrative tools to do your accounting, invoicing and taxes like a true professional.