Becoming a Consultant – 2

Thank you for the great feed-back on the first article in this topic.  Encouraged, I have written another section.  I hore you find this interesting and  useful.  Let me know if there is anything you might like to know.

HOW TO WRITE A CONSULTING PROPOSAL

Prospective clients will usually expect a written proposal.

If its not in writing it is “in the wind”.   A lack of a written proposal and susequent agreement lacks substance; it shows you have not tried to consider all the relevant points and if there are problems there will be nothing to fall back on.

A written proposal accomplishes five tasks that are important for you in getting on con tract and beginning work as a consultant.

1.  The proposal finalises the agreement.  The proposal, then, is a sales document that ties together all the loose ends and closes the deal.

2.  The proposal documents what you are going to do.  The services you are going to perform in this consulting engagement should be clearly understood by both you and your client.  A proposal does exactly that; it spells out in black and white exactly what you are going to do, so there is a documented basis for understanding.

3.  The proposal documents the time frame of your performance.  Sometimes the client will want to know partial information before the full project is complete.

4.  The proposal documents what you are going to receive for your services.  You aren’t in business as a consultant just for fun, even though you may enjoy it immensely.  The proposal specifies the compensation that you are going to receive for the services you propose to provide.

5.  The proposal forms the basis for a contract.

HOW TO WRITE A GOOD PROPOSAL

There are four points to remember in writing a good proposal.

1.  Keep the structure clear and logical

2.  Use a professional but friendly style.  When you are submitting a proposal, just as in a face-to-face meeting, be professional but be friendly.

3.  Don’t spring surprises in your proposal.  After you return from your initial meeting, you will frequently get new ideas that are different from what you and your client originally visualised.  These ideas may be so good that you find it very tempting to include them in the proposal.  Resist this temptation, unless you can check with your client first.  He may need time to sell this idea to other employees, even superiors in his company.

4.  Check before you send.  If at all possible, you should double-check the main points of the proposal with your client.  Don’t assume that changes can be made after your client receives it.

THE STRUCTURE FOR A LETTER PROPOSAL

Opening

Simply state that you are writing to submit your ideas for the project discussed earlier.

Background

Begin by restating the background of the consulting situation.  That is, restate your client’s assumptions and other general facts in the case.  This reassures the client that he has made an astute analysis of the situation.

Objectives

You should state the objectives of the engagement precisely.  Describe exactly what your client will learn or receive as a result of your work.

Research Study Methods

In this section you should describe alternative methodologies for accomplishing the objectives.  Discuss the advantages of each alternative, and then indicate which method you propose to use, and why.

Potential Problems

Any project has inherent in it, potential problems that could limit or detract from achievement.  Don’t omit or gloss over these potential problems; document them clearly, but also state how you will handle them if they occur.

Data Flow Charts and Product Development Schedules

A data flow chart is sometimes called a PERT chart.  PERT (Programme Evaluation and Review Technique) was developed for the management of complex multimillion-dollar projects for the government.  It shows what tasks you will accomplish and in what order for most efficient management.  A product development schedule will probably be sufficient for most projects.

The Finished Product

Your client will want to know what he can expect by way of a finished product.  Will you be furnishing a report?  A staff study? Photographs? And how many copies will you provide?

Cost and Payment Information

For most small contracts, it is not important to break down cost information unless the client requests it.  However, the timing of payment is important.  The client will want to know not only how much you want but when you want it.

CONVERTING A PROPOSAL INTO A CONTRACT

The last paragraph is a close.  It can – and should – be friendly, but it can also serve as a contract if you combine it with an authority to proceed.

Please simply sign at the bottom where indicated, for authority to proceed under these conditions, and return the original to me.  However, if you have any questions or suggestions pertaining to this proposal or the work you would like accomplished, please do not hesitate to call me at (insert TPhone Number here)

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