Look, it’s no secret that a solid project proposal template helps project managers like you do one thing:
Make an amazing first impression.
Think about it — sure, you might have an introductory call or two that gives you a chance to set the stage with a new client.
But your project proposal is really the first peek a prospect gets at the quality of your work.
And when they see it, you want their reaction to be more like this…
Not so much this…
So, that’s what I’m going to show you how to do here:
This project proposal template contains 5 steps for creating a project plan that “WOWs” your audience.
But, before we get into it, let’s address an important question up front:
Why do you need a project proposal at all?
It doesn’t matter if you’re a full-scale creative agency or a freelancer just getting their start:
A great project proposal helps you succeed in both landing a new project and making sure your team actually delivers a finished product that turns new clients into lifelong raving fans.
They show clients what makes you different.
Fact: A really great project proposal can be one of the most valuable marketing tools at your disposal.
Not only can you make that solid first impression that I mentioned earlier — you also get an opportunity to show how your team stands out from the pack. That might include:
- Your unique value proposition
- Your niche industry focus
- Your track record of success and accolades
- Your team’s expertise
- Your price point
Any one of which could be enough to sway new clients in your direction versus a competitor. But, it’s not just about landing new projects at any cost — a project proposal helps you vet your customers, too.
They tell you whether you + the prospective client = a good match.
Look, I get it: with a new project on the horizon, almost everyone starts to see dollar signs.
But, as you’ve probably experienced in the past, there are some pretty awful clients out there.
And I’m guessing you’d like to avoid them at all costs. Which is exactly where a project proposal can step in to help.
Your project proposal acts a launchpad for a successful conversation about how you and your prospective client might work together. And if that conversation leads to requests or revisions you don’t feel comfortable with (or just straight up don’t want to do), it’s better to know now rather than after the project kicks off and you’re in too deep.
(In which case, you may end up having to fire a client — yikes.)
They help you avoid scope creep.
Here’s a crazy statistic likely to make your skin crawl as a project manager:
According to PMI’s 2017’s Pulse of the Profession report, nearly half of all projects experience some degree of scope creep.
That means more work for you and your team…without any additional money.
But, if you invest the time into creating an awesome project proposal, scope creep becomes much less of an issue. Why?
Because the parameters of the partnership get discussed — and agreed upon — before the project even gets started.
“Spell out exactly what services your client is getting for this project. Explain that services outside of those listed will cost extra. Explain that they have until a certain date to make requests, and anything after that will either have to wait until the project is over, or will cost extra. Set it all up exactly how you want and spell it out in plain English.”
That means when the client comes to you with a request outside the original proposal, it’s easier for you to say “no” or, even better, invoice them for the additional service.
They set the stage for the project management life cycle.
If you read my recent post on how to make the project management life cycle work for you, then you know getting your team on the same page at the start of a project makes all the difference.
A project proposal helps you make that happen by defining deliverables long before you get started on the work itself. That means you and your team can appropriately map out the project and ensure you never miss another deadline.
Now, I’m sure you’re wondering…
All of this is great, but what goes into a good project proposal?
And that’s exactly what I’ve included in this outline:
Here’s a project proposal template your prospective clients will absolutely love.
Step #1: Write the Introduction
At first glance, writing an introduction to a project proposal might seem like the easiest part of this process.
You say “hello”…
You thank them for reading the proposal…
You give an overview…
…and you’re on your way!
But the truth is, a great introduction — one that actually hooks your audience in and makes sure they read the whole thing instead of skipping to the pricing — isn’t that easy.
So, here’s what you need to do:
- Define the problem. A quality project proposal reads like a good story where you’re the hero. And what does every hero need? Well, a villain, of course. Set the scene right in the introduction by defining the problem at hand. Doing so shows you have a grip on their struggles and what they want to accomplish.
- Don’t talk about yourself. I promise, there’s time for that later. To put it bluntly: no one cares about how long your agency has been in business or about the awards you won 4 years ago. People want to know what you can do for them. Stick to that and save the fluffy stuff for your website.
- Get personal. Just because we’re giving you this project proposal template doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be customizing it for each and every new prospect. Your introduction offers a great opportunity to show from the get-go that you’ve gone the extra mile in creating a proposal catered directly to that client and their needs.
For more on what makes an amazing introduction (and proposal in general), check out this funny, informative deck from Blue Lobster:
With a solid intro in place, you’re ready for the next section:
Step #2: Create a Compelling Project Summary
Now comes your chance to be the hero.
A successful project summary details exactly how you plan to attack your potential client’s problem.
That means bringing your vision of the project outcome to life by defining a set of strategic objectives that will help your client get there.
“…The purpose of the executive summary is to sell your solution to the client’s problem. It should be persuasive, outlining why the client should choose your company…[It should] highlight the benefits of your company/product/service, rather than being descriptive and focusing on the features.”
In other words: never assume the deal is in the bag. Remember that this proposal is often the last step in the decision-making process. And as a result, you want to pull out all the stops and make sure your prospective client knows you’re the best person for the job.
Step #3: Define Success Metrics and Anticipated ROI
The easiest way to show a client you’re confident in your ability to deliver great results is to hold yourself accountable with defined success metrics from the get-go.
Metrics mean you have a plan, a way to measure the success of that plan, and an idea of the impact that plan will have on your client’s business.
This is also a great opportunity to share some success stories from previous projects, too.
For example: say a client comes to you looking for a full website redesign in hopes of boosting lead conversions. It’s definitely a good idea to highlight a recent project where you’ve done just that.
Step #4: Give Clear and Realistic Deadlines
Deadlines set the stage for your client on when they can expect you to complete a project. But, they also help hold you and your team accountable.
Which is why it’s so important that you don’t overcommit to quick turnaround times just to impress a client.
Doing so not only causes stress for you and your team, it also equates to lower quality work and leads to missed deadlines for your client.
And that’s definitely not the best way to create raving fans for your business.
Step #5: Lay Out the Cost and Budget Plan
Every proposal needs a breakdown of the client’s cost and a plan for distributing the budget.
That’s because pricing is often the biggest thing your clients look for in your project proposal.
And while you can’t stop clients from comparing your prices to competitors, you can create a compelling case that justifies your price point.
That means breaking down where that cost goes in your organization and how it contributes to the overall success of your proposed solution.
That transparency not only justifies your price — it builds trust with the client, too.
And there you have it…
This project proposal template has everything you need to piece together a quality proposal that “WOWs” your prospects, lands you new business, and keeps your team on track.
And the best part is that you can access this template (and all of our marketing templates) for free by creating an account on Zapty. Get started now: