When I first started out in my web design business I sat down and created proposals for clients using plain old MS Word.
I thought to myself ‘hey, I already have MS Office on my computer so there is no extra cost and I am already familiar with how to use word, why not?’.
I did that for about my first year in business. It was ok for a while but I ran into some issues and decided there had to be a better way – a more efficient way.
Some of the issues I had included:
- Having to re-type sections because every customers website had slightly different requirements
- Once I sent the word document (or pdf), I was left wondering “did they get it?”, “did it end up in their spam email folder?”
- “How much time were they spending on reviewing the proposal 15 seconds or 15 minutes?”
- “How do I get them to sign the proposal to accept it?”
- Every time I get to the financial section I had to whip out my calculator to tally up my proposal totals.
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I don’t remember exactly how I came about my solution – but I stumbled onto an on-line proposal website called Bidsketch. With Bidsketch I could rather quickly and easily create a proposal with different sections and pricing and send off to a client.
Secret productivity hack – if you use FreshBooks for billing/invoicing it integrates with Bidsketch (no more having to re-type your customer data twice-once in your proposal software then again in your billing software)
Now these days there are lots of online proposal websites like proposify, betterproposals.io, proposeful etc. There were’nt as many options years ago when I started out – so at the time I choose Bidsketch.
The features that I found hugely valuable were:
- I could quickly use one of their pre-made templates to create proposals (personally.. I modified them slightly to suit me)
- All the math took care of itself – yah !
- Your potential client actually gets an email with a link to your proposal – and that link gets tracked.
- The link to your proposal can track 1. Did they open it?, 2. When they opened it and 3. How long they viewed it.
- Finally they have the ability to accept your proposal by electronically signing it. (or declining it) – they can even add comments if they want.
For me personally the biggest value it provided was piece of mind. Knowing they got it and viewed it was a big relief. The ‘not-knowing’ and waiting or trying to decide when to follow up was torture for me. I have a decent proposal-to-accept ratio – so for me, if I know they actually got the proposal – half the battle was won.
At the time of writing this (early 2018) their pricing was around $350 CDN / year. Yes that may sound pricy – especially when your funds are tight when starting out. When I looked at this option I asked myself “will this investment be worth the cost. If I spend $350 will it bring me at least that amount back in business in a given year”, and looking back I can definitely say yes given the benefits it’s worth the cost.
While there is a little bit of a learning curve they do allow for a trial – give it a test spin and take a step towards making your proposal process life easier.
I want to hear from you.
What do you use for your proposals? – what would you recommend / not-recommend. Please comment below.