Are your consultancy proposals letting you down?

If you’ve recently established a solo consultancy business, you’ll be regularly pitching for business. And until you’ve built a stellar reputation, you’ll likely be competing for most projects. Unless your consultancy proposals stand out from the crowd, you’re going to struggle to win enough business to stay afloat.

Here are five mistakes beginner consultants often make when preparing consultancy proposals.

Mistake # 1 – They don’t get enough background information

When they receive a consultancy brief, it’s common for new consultants to presume this has all the information they need to prepare a response. But in fact, consultancy briefs rarely tell the full picture. Your consultancy proposal needs to demonstrate to the client that you understand their problem, their context and what they need. And to do that, you need to dig a bit deeper and think beyond the written brief. Talk to the potential client to find out more. Get the back story; get them to tell you the problem in their own words; find out what they’re really looking for so you can write a proposal that hits the mark.

Mistake # 2 -They include way too much information

Potential clients are very busy people and if your proposal is a tome they have to wade through, chances are you’ll lose them pretty quickly. Don’t be tempted to add more and more. Instead provide all the essential information succinctly, and nothing superfluous. If your competition nails this and you don’t, you’ve got a pretty good idea where this is heading.

Mistake # 3 -They don’t clearly outline their proposed methodology

As an employee you weren’t required to map out exactly how you would go about your role – you just got on with the job. But all that changes now you’re a consultant. When you pitch for a project, the client needs to know what you plan to do for them. What methods and tools will you use; who will you talk to; how will your time be allocated? The currency of solo consulting is projects, so project planning is your bread and butter. Show the client you can do this right from the get-go by providing a clear methodology in your proposal.

Mistake # 4 – Their proposal doesn’t have a logical flow

If you’re not familiar with the consultancy proposal process, it’s easy to get confused about exactly what to include and how to structure your proposal. But if the client has to constantly flip back and forth to find what they’re looking for, then you’re definitely going to lose points in the competitive process. Your proposal needs to have a logical flow that takes them from your understanding of the problem, to how you’ll go about undertaking it, to costs, timeframes and so on.

Mistake # 5 – They don’t build in risk management strategies

Every consultancy project has some risks, for example in terms of scope, or timeframes. And the very first point at which you need to demonstrate you’re paying attention to risk management is in your consultancy proposal. The client is looking for a consultant who recognises the potential risk points and is clearly thinking ahead about how those might be managed.

So if you’re missing out on winning project bids, check you’re not making these common beginner’s mistakes.

Jacq Hackett, Founder, www.soloconsultantmasterclass.com

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