Let me set the scene for you. January 2009, sitting in front of a boardroom of 50-something year old men. I was brought in to speak about how to get their website more traffic for their high end political consulting firm.
These guys were making a decision between buying a 50 thousand dollar interactive green screen monitor to do ‘podcasts’ on statistical relationships between US and Canadian sociopolitical environments or hiring my team for three months to build their online presence.
After 2 presentations, multiple phone calls and a full board meeting, they went with the TV…
This is not a “How to”, as I’m not an expert. I used consulting to fund my crazy entrepreneurial projects down the years so it wasn’t my core business.
This post will be more of a basic set of guidelines to navigate the do’s and don’ts of how to put together a quote and get it accepted.
1. Don’t tell people you can do something unless you can do it
This is a big one and the mistake that most entrepreneurs make.
Most consultants worry first about getting the contract and then worry about providing the deliverable. This may get you a few contracts but long term it won’t make anyone happy and your first few clients are crucial towards you getting your next job.
So, what do you do if you don’t have any experience in the field? Go get some!
I would never tell a client I could do something without having done it myself. The vast majority of the time this was something that I did in my business or did for a friend pro bono.
This gives you the added bonus of having real world case studies which I talk about later.
2. Only take on high end clients
Don’t waste your time on clients that can’t afford you.
Poor clients usually follow up more, bitch about minutia, eat up your time (which you could spend finding more clients), and generally are more difficult to handle than high end companies.
Therefore, don’t work with them.
Instead, target companies that would see your costs as inconsequential to their bottom line. They’re not only going to be able to pay you on time but they’re usually a much easier sell and the clients get your more legitimacy in your industry.
3. Presentation is almost everything
Presenting your pitch to clients should be the most proficient and refined practice in your consultant toolbox. Every question should be answered immediately, succinctly and most importantly with supporting evidence.
The easiest way I would close clients while I was doing site development would be to go through my case studies, showing them what I did for those clients and challenging them to find somebody who could match my successes.
Even if you haven’t worked for others yet, use your own examples as showing people real numbers is the most persuasive way to close deals.
4. Putting together a quote
So if you’ve gotten to the point in which you’re ready to present a formalized quote the presentation is crucial.
One application I’ve been liking quite a bit is quoteroller.com which allows you to instantly put together quick amazing looking quotes and also allows the client to accept the quote right there. One of the best examples of a great quote can be found on their proposal automation template page.
In essence, you need to present a quote that first clearly defines the deliverables and when they will be achieved, provides adequate margins (I usually look at my costs and then add 60% on top of that), and gives the client examples of successful projects you’ve completed in the past.
Selling somebody doesn’t need to be complicated. Make sure you can do the job, show how you’re the best and for god sakes charge the proper amount.
Don’t try to compete with other bids, figure out what you need to complete the project and then add your margin.
Liam Martin is a co-founder of Time Doctor—a time tracking and productivity monitoring software designed for tracking hours and productivity of remote teams.