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Taming WordPress proposals so that your business doesn’t flounder

See if this sounds familiar.

You get a request from a possible new client, and he needs a WordPress proposal by the following day. He tells you that he needs a WordPress website for his business.

He gives you some information about the industry he is in and says he needs something that really “pops,” or stands out, so that he can differentiate him from others in the same industry.

“Great,” you think, and you get to work. You blow the entire day working on the wording and searching for proposal templates that you can use.

You begin to go down a rabbit hole of all the different thoughts of proposals, but you redirect to get this done.

Meanwhile, the task list you had for the day goes unchecked.

You turn in your proposal the next day and begin looking forward to hearing a response.

A week later you follow up. Nothing.

Another week goes by, and you still haven’t heard from the prospect.

You check in again.

Finally, you hear back. The prospect has decided not to follow through on a WordPress website.

Or, the prospect has decided to go another direction.

Or, the prospect has decided to use a web builder.

There are any number of things that the prospect may do other than using your services.

You may find out later they were simply shopping for the cheapest WordPress developer.

What gives?

Creating and submitting proposals is one of the worst parts of running a WordPress business.

We think if our proposal is prettier, or if we use a different tool, or if we are clearer, then we will have better results with our proposals.

Simply put, using proposals is the Art of PITA.

Pain. In. The. Arse.

Can I hear an Amen?

There is just no winning with proposals.

Nevertheless, they are things you need to have.

However, often, my best clients have come without proposals. Even so, you still need to have the ability to create effective WordPress proposals complete with an agreement that has safeguards in place for any project.

Why are proposals such a Pain In The Arse?

  • The Prospective client is window shopping – they are simply looking for the cheapest designer or developer.
  • The Prospective client isn’t really that serious – they are just seeing what is out there.
  • The Prospective client adds a due date – this creates a rush, often causing you to stop what you are doing now to satisfy their demand.
  • The Prospective client puts out multiple Request for Proposals – This allows them to get lots of proposals, choosing the cheapest or whatever other criteria they have.
  • The Prospective client doesn’t really know what he/she wants or wants something other than what they need. This happens often.

Utilizing Evaluations

If a prospective client is in a big hurry to get a proposal, and not willing to sit down for, at least, a cursory evaluation of the project, this is a red flag. It might be best to say, “Thanks, but I’ll pass.” You are likely to run into the problems mentioned above.

Request an interview and ask a few evaluation questions. Find out exactly what their need is, what their pain point is. This will allow you to include a solution in your proposals.

There are three things to consider for utilizing project evaluations.

Make a proper evaluation. Spend the time needed evaluating the project by interviewing the decision makers.

Identify the pain point. Find out exactly what their need is, what their pain point is. This will allow you to include a solution into your proposals.

Consider a paid evaluation. Does your prospect want the best use of your time? Consider offering them a paid Project Evaluation.

Look, a paid Project Evaluation might not be right for you on every project, but it is something to consider. How does one do a paid Project Evaluation? There is a fantastic article by Jonathan Wold over at Smashing Magazine.

What do I include in my proposal?
What should I include in my proposal? – Unsplash

What should I include in my proposal?

From my experience, here some important things to include in your proposal.

  • Creating the scope based on evaluation– You should evaluate the project, then create your scope.
  • Quote the price including each area – Include a list of the fees or a pricing table, something that makes it clear.
  • A clear timeframe – Be clear about your timeline and when you will have deliverables.
  • Creating Agreement or contract – I am sure you already have an agreement or contract you regularly use.
    Include it in your proposal so that it doubles as a contract. This makes things move faster.
  • A place for the client to preview online – Your proposal should include an easy way for your client to view, ideally, online. Additionally, a proposal should be able to be exported to a PDF.
  • A place for you and your client sign – digitally – Making your proposal easy to sign digitally helps the process be smoother and execute quickly.

Making WordPress Proposals less painful

Here are six tips for making WordPress proposals less painful.

  • Create a Process – A process helps you create proposals quickly while addressing issues.
  • Library of copy – Create a library of copy you will use.
  • Library of services and products – Create a library of services and products that can regularly be reused.
  • Library of Assets- Make your you have a library of graphical assets that you will reuse in your proposals
  • Lead with the benefits – This is copywriting 101. Before you ever talk about the features of working with you or your company, using WordPress, or anything like that, talk about the benefits of your solution.
  • Utilize tools
    • Proposal software can help put all of these in one place. If you are creating multiple proposals per month, the expense may be worth the tool. Evaluate the tools available. You may find that you don’t need the most expensive tool.
    • Invoicing software for quotes – Sometimes a quote is all you need to provide. An invoicing software can help get quotes up quickly. Also, you can turn quotes into invoices with a click of the button. Some proposal software integrates with invoicing software to create a seamless experience.

Wrapping it up

Proposal software can help solve a lot of the problems that you may have with the proposal process.

One business person I know creates proposals completely in Google Drive. Google Drive has the power to manage proposals. Therefore, it is also a viable option.

It is important to have your own process which makes things smoother and quickly. You can afford to spend an entire day on a proposal which may or may not be accepted.

That doesn’t mean that you can’t create a good, compelling proposal.

Some things to remember are:

Utilize a project evaluation.
Whether you are charging for the evaluation or using it to provide the project, it is important to take the time and properly evaluate the project. This will differentiate you from other WordPress developers. In doing so, you are attempting to solve the prospect’s biggest problem.

Include essential elements in your proposal
Once you have decided the things you want in your proposal, as well as your own format, use those elements each time. With each project, you will learn things that are relevant to your business as well as to help safeguard your work.

Make your proposal process less painful
Create a framework for making your proposal process less painful. Utilizing a library of elements, tools such as proposal software and a process that can be repeated will make creating proposals for prospective clients much less painful.

Go forth and propose!

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Todd Jones
Along with being the resident writer for MainWP and content hacker at Copyflight, I specialize in writing about startups, entrepreneurs, social media, WordPress and inbound marketing topics.
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