Episode 36: How to Sell a Design Package With a Clear and Concise Proposal

At the end of the in-person consultation, it’s time to take things to the next level and propose the right design package to your client. But, uh, how exactly do you do this? In person? By email, the next day? And how do you know what exactly to propose to them? Here’s how Kate and Lesley do it – and why Lesley is switching to a new way of presenting proposals.

Episode 36 Show Notes

Key Takeaways:

  • [3:50] Today we’re talking about the proposal you would give to a client at the end of your first in-person consultation. You already know they will be a great client and it’s time to send them a proposal so they know what things will look like moving forward
  • [5:47] You can either give proposals on the spot during the in-person consultation or after – it all depends on your personality and what you are comfortable with
  • [6:19] At the end of the consultation, use the notes you’ve taken with your worksheet as a guide to make the proposal
  • [6:50] The first page of the proposal is a letter customized specifically for the client
  • [7:19] The second page dives into the details of the scope of work – this is different from your process. The scope of work is very detailed and includes all the deliverables
  • [7:44] For example, if we’re doing a complete gut renovation, this will include sourcing all of the finishes, sourcing plumbing and lighting fixtures, space planning and layouts, and sourcing appliances. This also includes meeting with contractors and trades people, how many site visits and how long they will take
  • [9:32] The process just reminds them of the steps – starting from the concept package, followed by the design presentation including rounds of divisions
  • [10:52] Having everything laid out in writing will help remind clients of the value they’re getting out of your services
  • [12:15] Giving them a deadline to sign the proposal (usually around 5 days) is also good for projecting dates for when you can give them the concept package and design presentation
  • [16:07] Presenting your contract filled with legal jargon, rates, and budget right at the end of your consultation can be overwhelming for clients. Instead, let them digest everything and leave them with the excitement of all the ideas you’ve discussed
  • [17:01] Kate’s proposals are based on a couple of different factors: the unique scope of their project since no two projects are alike, but it’s also based on past projects that are similar in nature – this lets them know that you already have the experience handling projects like theirs
  • [17:39] Track your hours with all of your projects and have a list how long each takes – this is extremely helpful as a basis for future projects
  • [18:00] For bigger projects, you can create a pretty cover page with inspiration images to give them a small taste of the ideas you’ve talked about
  • [18:27] Always deliver your proposals in a PDF!
  • [18:47] After the welcome letter and all the basic information such as timeline and deliverables, put it in all costs and your rates
  • [20:29] You want to capture that energy and send your proposal within a couple of days. If you have templates, no more than two days should be good!
  • [21:20] Waiting a bit can also be helpful for you. You can come up with brand new ideas and inspiration, recognize red flags that you haven’t noticed before
  • [22:00] One challenge with doing it on the spot is that when you come up with the number and see how high it is, you might be scared to show it to your clients so you end up lowering it below its value
  • [22:42] Something that helps with this is bringing your design assistant along. Not only does it make you look more professional, but you can focus on the client while they take down notes. At the end before proposing the budget, you can discuss with your assistant and they can talk some sense into you
  • [25:00] We don’t do everything the same – that’s what makes this podcast and community successful! We don’t believe there is a right way to do any of this. Take what works for you and ignore the rest!
  • [25:35] Things to get ready next time you put together proposal: 
    • Look at your past projects and timelines to develop a way to track your hours
    • Put together a template proposal – do one for each type of project
    • Write a couple of canned emails to deliver proposals to your clients. But give yourself space to mix in a couple of personalized twists
    • Make a template for your follow-ups for the days after you send the proposal
  • [27:47] Once they get the proposal, let them know very specifically what the next steps are so they know what to expect

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