A consulting proposal is a written document that is sent from a consultant to a prospective client explaining a job they intend to undertake and the conditions under which they will do the job. The consulting proposal may form a response to a formal proposal request from an organization or a government agency or it may summarize the recommendations of a consultant following a client briefing. Proposals are normally written only after a consultant and a prospective client have discussed the job. It is important for a consultant to understand how to write a consulting proposal because that proposal is a sales tool as well as a protective resource. A proposal is designed to sell the client on the services of a consultant and the objective is for the client to accept the proposal. However, the consulting proposal can also protect the consultant by clearly defining the terms of the project, the cost and the timelines. It will prevent the client from expecting extra work or different results than what the consultant will get paid for. And depending on the scope of the work and the nature of that project, a proposal can be a full page or several pages long.
When writing a consulting proposal, it is important to ensure that it is delivered to the client in a timely manner. It may take some time and effort to prepare a proposal that covers all of the details and that is both protective and sales-oriented. But if the proposal is delivered after so many days after the client and the consultant have discussed the project, there is a possibility that the client may have gotten an alternative.
When learning about how to write a consulting proposal, it is also necessary to learn about the things that you must do before writing your proposal. The first thing is to ensure that you have all the information about the job under consideration. A consulting proposal is not like a resume. It is not a good idea to just send your consulting proposal to so many recipients to drum up business. Every proposal must be tailored specifically to the client that you are trying to get. If you have enough information about the client, you will be able to write your proposal in a better way. So the first step should always be to learn. You can achieve this through meeting the client and discussing about the proposed job whereby you will take notes and ask all the necessary questions so that you can understand what the work really entails. You can also follow up with a phone call or email after meeting the client to clarify the things that you may not have understood. It is also useful to perform a research for instance, if you want to prove that your services will be useful to the client, you can look for business surveys that support your idea.
The next thing you need to do before writing your consulting proposal is to agree on what your duties will be. You do not want to sign on as a consultant only for the client to start pressuring you to do something that you never agreed on. Having a clear picture of what the client should expect from you is very important. With this, your proposal will only contain what you have agreed on. Some of the things that can be included in a proposal are your precise duties, what the client will achieve, the time frame of the work and the milestones that should be reached by a certain date. There are times when you may need to speak to multiple people. For instance, if you intend to consult about a dispute between employees and the management, it is wise to talk to the representatives of both parties and the hiring client.
The third thing you need to do before writing your consulting proposal is to find your client’s financial commitment. This is a very important requirement. If your client is not ready to pay the amount that you believe your work is worth, there is no need of writing a proposal. You need to agree with the client on the amount he will pay and after how long he will pay before you begin writing the proposal. With this, you will be able to refer to the agreed payment in your proposal, which your client must sign and agree to hire you. And apart from the cost of the service, you must also agree with the client about secondary costs which you may have while doing the job. These costs include travel and supplies. The client must agree to compensate you for those things. You should not go ahead with the proposal if the client seems to be uncertain about what you will be paid. The next item is that if possible; get the job without a proposal. Consulting experts advise that it is easy to write a confirmation of the work than to write a proposal of work. Bear in mind that a consulting proposal does not guarantee you the job. It is very possible for the client to solicit proposals from several consultants and select only one. So try to get the client hire you before you think of writing a proposal. This way, you will write the proposal for the client to confirm that you can begin working and not start deciding whether you can do the job or not.
When writing your consulting proposal, begin by addressing the prospective client. Start the proposal the same way you would start a letter. Write down a small paragraph detailing that you want the job and that you are the best candidate for that job. At this stage it is ok to use a personal tone, but ensure you remain professional. Mention the client’s name in the proposal. Using their first name is fine, but it is better to include Mr or Mrs. This is how to write a consulting proposal in a manner that will show the client that your proposal is specifically tailored to him or her.
The next step is to describe the job. This will be drawn from the discussion that you must have already had about the job. This should be done in a few sentences and it is meant to show the client that you understand the problem that needs to be solved, the duties that should be performed and the scope of your work. You must be specific about the job here, but do not dwell so much on precise details like hours, money and so on.
The next step is to describe your qualifications. At this stage, you will be trying to sell yourself as the perfect person for the job. Try to draw attention to things like your experience, training and the jobs that you have done before which have gotten you positive feedback. You can as well reference your values and attitudes, but this can take a back seat to more concrete qualifications. Bear in mind that you could be in a competition with many other consultants. So you need to try to paint a picture of how you will be able to offer a measurable benefit to the client in terms of time saved and money. With this, you will be able to give yourself an edge over your competitor who has similar qualifications but does not articulate this properly.
The next step in writing a consulting proposal is to describe the work that you are proposing. Explain what you will do to solve the client’s problem using specific details and strict terminologies. Point out the exact results that the client will see from your consultation. You also have to be specific about your time frame and methods. And to avoid problems later, it is wise to explain what you expect from the client during the job in regards to equipment, access to work sites and personnel. For example, you can mention the people you expect to work with and the sectors you will need to access. You will also need to describe the tasks that you will not perform during the consultation. Being a consultant, you want to avoid the problem of your responsibilities growing without getting extra compensation. Isolate the problem you will be tackling and indicate clearly that any related issues are not included in the proposal. You can use a bulleted list in order to present this well and make it very hard for the client to miss this crucial information.
The next step is to propose a price for your service. The price depends on who your client is and the type of job you will be doing. And since you will be competing with several other consultants, try to keep your rate competitive for your situation and industry. You can also describe extra costs like hotel rooms, transportation and meals which the client will have to pay for. Having an approval process is also a good idea. For instance, you can indicate that you will be presenting your receipts after every month.
The last step is to summarize your proposal. Just like in all other academic writings, a conclusion paragraph is meant to provide a quick, succinct summary of what the whole proposal was about. Reiterate your preparation for the consultation, your fitness for the job and your confidence in providing the best results. At this stage just like in the opening paragraph, you can be warm and refer to the client by his or her name after which you will sign and write the date leaving a space for the client to sign.