As a freelancer, you probably know the feeling of getting outshined by competition. In a world where independent professionals vie for contracts with businesses (with more and more joining the scene each day), it can be difficult to stand out. And even if you do put in the effort to appeal to the client, there’s always that possibility of them going for someone else instead.
Fortunately, that doesn’t have to be the case. By knowing when you’ll have to put in the effort, you can save yourself a good amount of time and resources. You don’t need to do a full-blown proposal template or quote template every time you want to strike a deal with a client (though it could help). In many cases, all you need to do is provide a detailed quote for your services. But there’s a slight problem - not a lot of freelancers know when they should be using proposals vs quotes.
Sure, you could play it safe by going all-out and drafting a freelance proposal every time you’re working with a client, but all the added effort could go to waste if you don’t land the deal. In a similar way, providing quotes can be a great method of simplifying the process, but you aren’t exactly selling yourself that way, either.
In this blog, we’re going to be tackling proposals vs quotes and finding out the differences between the two. Spoiler alert: they’re a lot more different than you think.
Let's start by having a look at reasons to draft and send a proposal or a quotation.
Let’s say that you’re part of a company, and are tasked to find a freelancer to provide assistance with one of your projects. Browsing through a list of applications, you notice two that stand out. You contact them and ask them what they can offer to your team. One explains their services and hands in a quote, while another gives you a detailed proposal that covers every aspect of the project.
If we assume that both applicants offered (more or less) similar services, then the one that handed in a proposal would have been the better choice. See, while quotes are great for number-crunching and forecasting, proposals take things to the next level. Not only do they have the information present in quotes, but they also cover other, more abstract aspects of the project, such as workflow.
The only real issue with proposals or quotes is the difficulty and amount of effort required to properly make one. That’s why hundreds of thousands of professional freelancers worldwide use Bonsai, a tool that makes everything from basic proposals to contracts a breeze to make. You can sign up and try out Bonsai for free to take your freelancing career to the next level.
Numbers aren’t the only way to convince clients to work with you. You could have the most affordable quote among the client’s shortlist, but as long as you don’t sell yourself, there’s always that possibility for another freelancer to take your spot. In situations where you need to compete to land a deal, proposals can serve as a vital persuasive tool.
It doesn’t take years of experience and an innate knack for business to write a stunning marketing proposal. And when done right, proposals can strengthen your relationship with the client, which can allow for smoother sailing, and potentially the job. When comparing proposals vs quotes, you’ll find that quotes just don’t have the same amount of persuasive power as proposals do.
There are certain aspects worth considering when it comes to creating and submitting either a proposal or a quote.
If you’re relatively new to the freelancing lifestyle, then there’s a good chance that you’ve never made a proposal before. At first glance, it may seem like nothing more than gathering data that you already have, and providing it in a persuasive format to the client, but it’s a lot more complicated than that. While proposals and quotations achieve the same thing, proposals require a lot more effort to pull off successfully.
Think about it. Freelancers already put in a lot of effort just to make themselves look more appealing in their social media profiles so that they look competent and experienced. It’s no different with proposals - you not only need to pull up figures and estimates but also qualitative analysis and a good case to explain your worth to your client. Doing this for every client that you work with will not only affect the time it takes to complete tasks but also add an extra layer of stress.
Taking time to construct a proper proposal brings along its own set of risks. Not only do you need to get everything prepared beforehand, but you also need to successfully deliver the proposal itself. Any sort of mistake or misunderstanding that arises from your proposal could ruin all the effort you put into it, along with your chances of landing that deal.
Now, let’s imagine that instead of making a proposal, you handed in a quote instead. You’d save yourself the extra work, and you’d have more time to focus on your current tasks. That could potentially improve the final result of your projects, and even open up the chance to work with your existing clients in the future, should they need your assistance. When one door closes, another opens.
Now that we know the ups and downs of proposals when exactly is the best time for freelancers to make use of quotes instead? Here are some general guidelines to get you started.
Quotes, or quotations, may not be as comprehensive as proposals, but they are by no means obsolete because of this either. The fact of the matter is that quotes and proposals each have their respective uses and that freelancers can save a lot of time and effort if they know when to use them properly.
To understand when to use quotes, you need to understand how important it is to convince your client for the current task at hand, and how effective you can possibly be should you choose to do so. Putting in too little or too much effort can either ruin your chances or cost you valuable time.
In reality, though, companies will usually ask for proposals and quotations depending on the information they need at the moment. Quotes are more common if they’re trying to base their decisions on costs, whereas proposals are usually requested in cases where the client has a shortlist of options for the task at hand.
Oftentimes, in fact, clients won’t ask for either a quote or a proposal at all. In many cases where the client is just getting to know you, they typically request for estimates instead. But what makes quotes vs estimates vs proposals different?
Estimate templates, as the name suggests, are less restrictive than proposals vs quotations in the sense that they don’t have a fixed price or value to them. Whereas quotes have a set price for a certain period of time, estimates are more of a general price range that takes into consideration uncertain variables, such as sudden price fluctuations.
In general, the differences between proposals vs estimates are almost identical to that of those between proposals vs quotations. Both estimates and quotations are nothing more than values, whereas proposals take these values to the next level with added information.
At the end of the day, there’s no need to worry too much about comparing quotes vs estimates vs proposals. They’re all useful tools in building that relationship with potential clients, each with their own set of advantages. And using Bonsai, you can create either in just minutes - sign up for the free trial and see for yourself.
Whether it’s proposals vs estimates or proposals vs quotations, the best choice is always the one that you believe is best for your career.
A verbal contract (formally called an oral contract) refers to an agreement between two parties that's made —you guessed it— verbally.
Formal contracts, like those between an employee and an employer, are typically written down. However, some professional transactions take place based on verbally agreed terms.
Freelancers are a good example of this. Often, freelancers will take on projects having agreed on the terms and payment via the phone, or an email. Unfortunately, sometimes clients don't pull through on their agreements, and hardworking freelancers can find themselves out of pocket and wondering whether a legal battle is worth all the hassle.
The main differences between written and oral contracts are that the former is signed and documented, whereas the latter is solely attributed to verbal communication.
Verbal contracts are a bit of a gray area for most people unfamiliar with contract law —which is most of us, right?— due to the fact that there's no physical evidence to support the claims made by the implemented parties.
For any contract (written or verbal) to be binding, there are four major elements which need to be in place. The crucial elements of a contract are as follows:
Therefore, an oral agreement has legal validity if all of these elements are present. However, verbal contracts can be difficult to enforce in a court of law. In the next section, we take a look at how oral agreements hold up in court.
Most business professionals are wary of entering into contracts orally because they can difficult to enforce in the face of the law.
If an oral contract is brought in front of a court of law, there is increased risk of one party (or both!) lying about the initial terms of the agreement. This is problematic for the court, as there's no unbiased way to conclude the case; often, this will result in the case being disregarded. Moreover, it can be difficult to outline contract defects if it's not in writing.
That being said, there are plenty of situations where enforceable contracts do not need to be written or spoken, they're simply implied. For instance, when you buy milk from a store, you give something in exchange for something else and enter into an implied contract, in this case - money is exchanged for goods.
There are some types of contracts which must be in writing.
The Statute of Frauds is a legal statute which states that certain kinds of contracts must be executed in writing and signed by the parties involved. The Statute of Frauds has been adopted in almost all U.S states, and requires a written contract for the following purposes:
Typically, a court of law won't enforce an oral agreement in any of these circumstances under the statute. Instead, a written document is required to make the contract enforceable.
Contract law is generally doesn't favor contracts agreed upon verbally. A verbal agreement is difficult to prove, and can be used by those intent on committing fraud. For that reason, it's always best to put any agreements in writing and ensure all parties have fully understood and consented to signing.
Verbal agreements can be proven with actions in the absence of physical documentation. Any oral promise to provide the sale of goods or perform a service that you agreed to counts as a valid contract. So, when facing a court of law, what evidence can you provide to enforce a verbal agreement?
Unfortunately, without solid proof, it may be difficult to convince a court of the legality of an oral contract. Without witnesses to testify to the oral agreement taking place or other forms of evidence, oral contracts won't stand up in court. Instead, it becomes a matter of "he-said-she-said" - which legal professionals definitely don't have time for!
If you were to enter into a verbal contract, it's recommended to follow up with an email or a letter confirming the offer, the terms of the agreement , and payment conditions. The more you can document the elements of a contract, the better your chances of legally enforcing a oral contract.
Another option is to make a recording of the conversation where the agreement is verbalized. This can be used to support your claims in the absence of a written agreement. However, it's always best to gain the permission of the other involved parties before hitting record.
Fundamentally, most verbal agreements are legally valid as long as they meet all the requirements for a contract. However, if you were to go to court over one party not fulfilling the terms of the contract, proving that the interaction took place can be extremely taxing.
So, ultimately, the question is: written or verbal agreements?
Any good lawyer, contract law firm, or legal professional would advise you to make sure you formalize any professional agreement with a written agreement. Written contracts provide a secure testament to the conditions that were agreed and signed by the two parties involved. If it comes to it, a physical contract is much easier to eviden in legal circumstances.
Freelancers, in particular, should be aware of the extra security that digital contracts may provide. Many people choose to stick to executing contracts verbally because they're not sure how to write a contract, or they think writing out the contract terms is too complicated or requires expensive legal advice. However, this is no longer the case.
Today, we have a world of resources available at our fingertips. The internet is a treasure trove of invaluable information, platforms, and software that simplifies our lives. Creating, signing, and sending contracts has never been easier. What's more, you don't have to rely on a hiring a lawyer to explain all that legal jargon anymore.
There are plenty of tools available online for freelancers to use for guidance when drafting digital contracts. Tools like Bonsai provide a range of customizable, vetted contract templates for all kinds of freelance professionals. No matter what industry you're operating in, Bonsai has a professional template to offer.
A written contract makes the agreement much easier to prove the terms of the agreement in case something were to go awry. The two parties involved can rest assured that they're legal rights are protected, and the terms of the contract are sufficiently documented. Plus, it provides both parties with peace of mind to focus on the tasks at hand.
Bonsai's product suite for freelancers allows users to make contracts from scratch, or using professional templates, and sign them using an online signature maker.
With Bonsai, you can streamline and automate all of the boring back-office tasks that come with being a freelancer. From creating proposals that clients can't say no to, to sealing the deal with a professional contract - Bonsai will revolutionize the way you do business as a freelancer.
Why not secure your business today and sign up for a free trial?