Is writing estimates/proposals painful?

Do you get excited when talking with prospects about a potential project—only to get very un-excited when it’s time to sit down and write the proposal?

I used to dread doing proposals too. They would take forever. And I never knew if the client would like what I proposed or not. It was kind of like trying to bake cookies in the dark…you might come out with something edible…you might not!

Then somewhere along the way, I realized that life’s too short to write lengthy proposals. So I switched to a model that would allow me to write quick-and-easy estimates instead.

These days, when that great intake phone call comes to a conclusion, I can say, “Let me send you an estimate” with ease and relaxation instead of dread. Today I’ll tell you what works for me…and hopefully it will help you, too.

1. Consider packages

Take a step back. Think about what you’re selling and how you can package it up for clients. Want to consider package pricing? It starts with getting specific about your services.

2. Don’t reinvent the wheel

If you’re creating each estimate from scratch every time, you’re probably driving yourself nuts and spending lots of unnecessary time. If what you do for each client truly is custom, perhaps there are some elements that overlap…for example: annual report design, branding, brochure design. The benefit of each of the services is usually similar no matter the client, so at least have some grab-and-go language around the basic services you provide…You can copy and paste this into your estimate, then you plug in the specific prices.

3. Use a tool that has templates

Use an estimating/invoicing tool like FreshBooks (or pretty much any tool that allows you to save a template version of an estimate). In FreshBooks, I’ve got my three main packages saved, and my add-ons, so I pull up whichever template is most relevant, make a few tweaks/minor adjustments, and send. It takes 5 minutes. This begins my simple client intake process. To make it even easier, I first enter client information into Google sheets which then creates an estimate/adds client information in FreshBooks (thanks to Zapier).

4. Avoid sticker shock

Another great thing about having packages with prices? Prospects already have numbers in mind. You don’t want the estimate to be the first time they see the price. So whether or not you’re able to create packages with pricing on your website, you should always talk about price ranges on the intake phone call so you can get a feeling for their budget…otherwise even writing a 5 minute estimate could be a waste of time. By discussing price in advance, they will be prepared and the estimate will simply be a reinforcement of the conversation. Here’s more about what to do (and not do) on client intake calls.

Extra awesome: By streamlining your estimating with a tool like FreshBooks, invoicing gets easier too.

Want more? Check out what do when a client wants to work with you.

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