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Episode 156: Anatomy of a Winning Consulting Proposal—with Deb Zahn

Deb Zahn: I want to welcome you to this week's episode of the Craft of Consulting Podcast. So on this episode, I'm going to talk all about winning consulting proposals.

This was actually by request. There was someone in my membership who just wanted a really solid understanding of how it is you develop winning consulting proposals. And it's not a quick answer. So I said, you know what, let me do a podcast on that. It's one of the benefits of being in my membership is you actually get to suggest topics for me and I will do it. So we're going to dig into exactly how you think about, approach, and construct a consulting proposal that is more likely going to end in you actually getting a contract and being able to start the work.

Now before I get into that, I am going to talk about this wonderful free offer that I have that is going to help you actually get to the proposal. So you got to get to the proposal before you can write a winning one, right? And so what I'm going to do is I'm giving a masterclass and it's all about the top five things you need to do to get consulting clients. It's free, it's live. It's going to be on April 21st, 2022, if you're listening to this later. And once you register, you're going to get a free tool to develop your own value proposition.

And if this is something you haven't done, or you haven't looked at yours recently, this is something you need to get your hands on and pay attention to and do because it is a cornerstone of having a successful consulting business. You got to be able to describe your value to clients in a way that they actually care enough about that they're going to want to hire you. That's what this tool does. It helps you figure that out.

So these are goodies you get just for signing up, and then you get to be on the webinar and you get to be able to hear me in this masterclass describe these absolutely five essential things that if you do, you're more likely going to be able to advance prospective clients to the point where they want a proposal from you. And that's where this podcast comes in handy is like, "All right, I did that, now what do I do?" So links to the masterclass are going to be in the show notes. If you, for some reason, miss this podcast in time, you don't get to hear it, check out my website. I'll have other ways that you can get information that's going to help you grow your consulting business.

But let's go into the proposal now.

So first, what's the purpose of a proposal? Well, that sounds kind of silly, right? Well, how many purposes of a proposal could the best be? You got to do one and then you got to try and get a contract. Let's be clear…proposals exist for a few different purposes. The first is to close the deal. Now I've seen other folks out there who talk about consulting say that, "Well, no, you should have sealed the deal before the proposal. And if you don't, you're not doing it right."

I don't quite buy that. I mean, on some level I get it because yeah, you want to have in the discovery process mapped out with as much precision as you can what it is that they have a demand for and they're willing to pay you to do. So that's true. You should have excited them enough about the prospect of working with you that they're going to pay attention to and care about anything you put in front of them. 100% true.

However, unless you treat this step with the respect and attention it needs, you can actually lose a deal. I've actually seen this happen. So if you wowed them when you were first in that initial meeting with them or however many meetings you had with them to get to this point, but then you give them a proposal that doesn't really keep that wow alive, like maybe it's sloppy or it doesn't quite match what they talked about, or if it doesn't make any sense and it's really hard for them to follow and understand what you're doing, you could lose a deal. And I've said this so many times you're going to get sick of me saying it, but I'm going to keep saying it because it's so important. Every experience that a client has with you, including a proposal you put in front of them, tells them what it's going to be like to work with you.

So if it's not matching what you talked about, if it's sloppy, if it's filled with typos, if it doesn't quite make sense, you're essentially communicating to them that that's what it's going to be like to work with you because if you do that and you do it at a stage of the process where you're trying to get a deal closed with them, then what are you going to do once they start giving you the money? That's what they're going to be thinking. So that's why you have to treat this step with the respect that it deserves so that you can ultimately close a deal, and closing the deal is one of the main purposes of a proposal.

However, the other reason for a proposal is a proposal sets expectations. This is where you want to make sure that you and the client are really aligned. You want to make sure that you're clear on the expectations around how this work is going to proceed, the timeline, the parameters, any details of the project that are going to be essential for you to agree on to make sure that you're delivering what they want, and you're able to deliver it at the cost that you tell them that you can.

So this is where you're trying to prevent and you're trying to mitigate risks. And you also are trying to set a good stage that this is going to be a great experience working together because if I'm this clear at the beginning, that's what it's going to be like working with me. And so it helps you start off right off the bat with really good feelings about what it's going to be like to work with you. You've set expectations. 

And it doesn't mean that they're going to remember everything you put into your proposal, but at least now you have something to talk off of if anything gets unclear in the future. And it'll be much, much easier to manage that engagement if you are clear from the get-go. So don't take proposals lightly. This is why they're so important.

Now let's get a few questions out of the way before I get into the details. So I'm going to walk through sort of the anatomy of a winning proposal, but I want to answer a few burning questions that I know folks have because again, I asked the people in my membership, "All right, if I'm going to do a podcast on how to do a proposal, tell me what questions you want me to answer." So let me hit some of those right off the bat.

Are offers, whatever your proposal is, is it all in the same format? So wherever it is you describe the work that you're going to be doing for them, do you have to do it in the same format? And my answer is, not at all.

So I'm going to get into some of the ways that you actually describe the scope of what you're going to do with them, but there isn't one way to do it. It really depends on the client and what the engagement is and what you think actually makes sense for getting them the results that they care about. So I'm going to talk out a flow, an overall way that a contract is formatted so that it has a certain flow that I have found works better than other ways, but ultimately you get to choose how you want to do it as long as the folks on the receiving end, they're going to like it and it's going to make sense to them. So it's not just what you think is fun and fabulous. It's got to make sense when you hand it to them. And that's really what you need to think about in terms of formatting.

So another question I get all the time about proposals is, how much detail do you provide? And I think at the heart of this, one of the things that folks are worried about is if I give too much detail, then they're going to be able to take my stuff and go do it on their own, or they're going to be able to take it and go give it to another cheaper consultant who's going to be able to do it. And I think that's generally what's at the heart of it. And then the other question is, how much work do you want to do prior to the engagement?

So let me hit the first concern first. The amount of detail that you put in varies, and I'll talk about how it varies in a moment, but if they could do this themselves, they probably would have done it themselves. So I don't worry too much about how much information I give them. I do want to show the value so that they understand who it is they're getting and they have a desire to hire me and that that desire stays alive through the proposal process, but I'm not worried about them doing it. And I'm certainly not worried about whether or not they could hand this to another cheaper consultant who's going to be able to do it because I wrote on a piece of paper details about how I do it.

I don't care if I sound arrogant, I'm just going to say it, my secret sauce is me. It's not just the very specific things I do. And so somebody can't replicate that. There's other consultants out there who might do it in a similar way who are fabulous and they get the results. They might do it in a different way and get the results. There's lots of fabulous consultants out there. But if they think that they can go bargain basement based on something I gave them, my answer is kind of I'll see you on the flip side. I don't think that's going to work out because I have the skills and knowledge that I have gained over a vast amount of time in my particular industry, so it's not just laying out a process. It's about what I bring to that process. So I would say, don't worry about that at all.

But in terms of how much work you do trying to actually get a deal rather than what you do once you have the deal, that is actually a really important concern. So the amount of detail you provide is going to vary. In some instances, clients will actually request that you provide them with a lot of detail. So in requests for proposals, often you have to include an actual work plan. How detailed that is depends on what they write into that request. Others, what I generally find in most consulting arrangements is they're looking for a balance between giving them enough of the how so that they believe that you can actually achieve what it is they want to achieve, but not doing necessarily a full-scale work plan because typically that's something you would be paid to do when you actually have the contract.

So you need to give them enough so they're like, "Oh yeah, yeah. OK. We know what's going to happen here, and it's believable to us that we can get the result from this. We know what you're going to do and we know what we're supposed to do, and we know what the timeframes are." But it doesn't have to be this like a really elaborate implementation plan, for example, because that's typically something you would get paid for because it's valuable under a consulting arrangement. So that's what I'd say about that.

Couple of other questions I want to answer. Is the proposal distinct from a contract? Well, that's a choice. Personally, my proposals are also a contract. And the reason that I do that is it reduces friction. So friction is anything that would prevent a client from taking the next step. So if I give them an extra step that's unnecessary, I have to recognize that I'm risking, that I'm going to lose some folks.

If I make something difficult for them to do or takes up more of their time and energy, and it takes up more of their executive function to be able to do it, I have to recognize that I am risking. That there's going to be some folks who for whatever reason just aren't going to take that next step because I've made it harder. So I always err to making it easy as possible for them, which is why my proposals are a contract. And later when I talk about some of the details of how I construct a winning proposal, I'll talk about, well, what do you do if they have changes? We'll talk about how to handle that.

Also along the lines of reducing friction is send electronically and let them sign electronically. There are a lot of systems out that will do that. Your CRM probably does it. Your financial software might do it. There are standalone services that you can get to do it, but that makes it easier, and it makes it more likely that they're going to take the next step because you've reduced friction.

And then last question, I loved this question is, do they all have to look the same? What I sort of took from that is, do they all have to be boring because there's kind of a way that proposals have kind of always looked. Can be a little stale and boring. And so, my answer is no way. I've actually seen PowerPoint proposals that are also a contract that are easy to read and they're engaging and they're kind of fun to look at. As long as it makes sense for that particular client, as long as it makes sense in your industry and ultimately who you're trying to work with, I'd say nothing wrong with doing it in a different way in Canva or in PowerPoint, and so you have engaging visuals, as long as the graphic design does not get so complicated that it's difficult for them to actually understand what it is that you're offering them and what you're proposing to do with them.

So that's what I would say about that. Just remember that the look gives them an experience and it communicates who you are. So you just ultimately want to match that. And this is where you think about what your personal brand is. And so if your personal brand is you're this fun quirky consultant, fabulous, then make your proposals that way. That's fine. If you are much more on the traditionalist side, whatever that means, then by all means have your proposals look like that. I tend to fall kind of somewhere in between where I think it's fun to put some visuals in it. I will put diagrams in it so that they have a visual representation of what I'm trying to do with them. I find that really helpful because the folks on the other side might be looking at this and a visual makes sense to one person and the text makes sense to other people. But have it match what your personal brand is.

Now, the key principle before I get into some of the details is that this is a toolbox approach. What I mean by that is that, ultimately, you should use what works for you and the client that you're presenting this to. So I'm not going to say that the way I'm showing you is exactly right and you should do this every single time. I'm going to share with you what I find works for me, and I will explain the reasons behind what I'm doing that'll help you make choices about it, but that everything isn't always the right thing to do.

And so the best thing that you can do to build a thriving consulting business, and this is true of everything not just proposals, is to have various tools in your toolbox so that you can pull out the right ones when you actually need them. Even though I'm going to go through a specific flow, that's how I want you to think about this is what can I put in my toolbox that's going to help me when I'm making choices later.

So this is where I want to get into the flow. And then in the flow, I'm going to sprinkle some tips in there so that, again, you have the information you need to know when to use the right tool. So the first thing I'd say is to think of a proposal as a narrative, as a story. A story that is all about the client, and you're really taking them step by step towards a yes. That's really how I think about it. And remember, the key part in there is that it's their journey, it's not yours. So it's a narrative about where they're trying to get to and what they're trying to do and not about you. And this is the mistake that I've seen in a lot of different proposals is the consultant who's writing them thinks that their job is to convince them that they're fabulous.

In reality, if you've gotten to a proposal stage, in most instances, not all, they probably already think that or have an inkling of that, which is why they want a proposal. If it's a competitive proposal, they might not know it. So yes, you do have to convince them that's your right person to do with that. I'll talk about that later. But it isn't about convincing them you're fabulous. It's convincing them that you can actually help them achieve what they want to achieve. So they are the center of this.

And you'll recognize this if anybody's ever read Donald Miller's StoryBrand, and when he talks about the narrative arc, I borrow heavily from that. And again, this is what I have found that works the best. So the narrative is like a journey from where they are today to where it is that they want to go. So it starts with the destination. And again, it's funny, I've seen lots of proposals where the destination is buried somewhere in it, in which case I find it. And I've been on the receiving end of these as a potential client where I'm not seeing what I told them I cared about, where I'm actually trying to get to.

The destination is the results that they want to achieve, and that should be the very first thing they see. Not the scope, definitely not your bio. Start with what matters most to them, the results that they want. The results that they want should be the first thing that they see because that's why they want to hire you. If they weren't trying to get somewhere, there would be no reason to hire you. So let them see that first, nice tight description of the results that they want to see. Whatever it is that they told you they wanted, that's the first thing they should see.

And again, a common mistake is the consultants will jump to talk about the process and the deliverables and never state the actual results. And as much as the process matters, it only matters in the context of where the process is taking you to. That's why you put it first. So for example, if you do strategic planning, so I do a lot of strategic planning. It's not that they get a strategic plan. That's not the results that I'm talking about. It's that you get, and this is just an example, you get a strategic plan that lets you increase your revenue by 10% in a vulnerable market or to retain talent or whatever it is that they said they're doing a strategic plan in order to achieve. The strategic plan is a tool to help them achieve it.

And that's going to be true with other examples. So if you're going to help them install an IT system and help them implement a new IT system, it isn't that they get just the IT system, it's they get an IT system that, for example, allows them to get the data at their fingertips to make better financial and operational decisions. So again, they would have told you why they wanted it in the first place and what the results they want to get out of using it. That's what you put first because that's what they care most about.

Then I like to put, before I get into the how I like to put the context. So again, if you're thinking of this as a journey, this is where you say, "Here's the destination we're going to go to." And then this next step is to say, "And here's why getting to that destination matters. And here's the circumstances around going to that destination." So if it's really important or it's urgent or there are certain perils that they're potentially going to face along the way, this is where you state those. So you basically said here's where you're trying to get to, and then they have context for understanding why this matters.

Now, this is where I caution again overstating the context. So if there are risks, say what there are. If there are perils, say what there are. If there's urgency, say what it is. But don't express it, for example, as an existentialist crisis if it isn't one because this is where you could lose trust because then it looks like you're just trying to get their money. You're just trying to seal the deal. So this is where you should be establishing trust, and ultimately what you want to do is reflect back to them what they shared in the discovery process.

So when you ask them in the discovery process, why does this work matter? Why does it matter now? What's the risk of doing it? What's the risk of not doing it? Those are some of the things that you should reflect back to them. And I don't make this really long. This is not war and peace. This is where you have a couple of paragraphs. And again, my goal is to reflect back on what they said matters to them and by doing so, I'm actually gaining trust. I'm gaining trust because I'm showing them, one, I heard you, two, I get it. So I might also include some things in there that I might have said about the larger context they're in that was something that they maybe didn't know before I walked in or they just had an inkling of.

So I want them to know that I heard them, I get it, I understand the realities in which they operate, and I care. I care enough that this is the second thing that you're seeing in this. So that's the second thing I always do. And then and only then is when I come to how I'm going to help them get to their destination, and this is the description of the journey itself. And so this is the scope and this is the timeline. I also include cost in there, which I'll talk about in a moment.

So if you have predetermined offers, so you have certain trainings you do or a workshop or particular product that you offer, you're going to use the same language over and over again for that, and that's perfectly fine. You may also, if you have a mix of different offers, you're going to borrow from other language you've done and sort of put it together. If you do custom consulting, which is a lot of what I do, then this should be very specific to the project and it should feel like it is responsive to what they said and what they said they cared about, and you've thought through what's the best way to get them there. That's what you're going to present them.

This is where you also provide timelines. You may not know the exact dates and that's OK. If you do, you can offer what those are. If not, you can use weeks, you can use months, you can use quarters, but they want in this section to get some sense of, "All right, we're going to go on this journey. This is what the journey looks like." "Wait, how long?" So that they're not in the back of the car going, are we there yet? You want to set the expectation ahead of time that this is essentially the clip that you're going to operate in and here's when certain big important things are going to happen or conclude.

This is where I like to, as I just said, they want to know when it's over. So you got to include an end date if there is one. It sets the expectation for the work, which I think is really important because if it's a project and it's supposed to have a beginning and an end, but it drags out, then that messes with my pipeline and it makes it really difficult to manage the work. So if there's an end date, you want to state what that end date is. I generally include timeframes for each of the pieces of work.

So if the work has several things that I do within it, so the first might be where I'm conducting environmental scan or I'm doing stakeholder interviews or something like that, I'll give that a timeframe. And then if I do a strategy session or a series of strategy sessions, I'll include a timeline for that as well. And this is where I want them to get a sense that I've thought through not just what the work is, but how it flows.

So if there are sequence activities that have to build off of each other, I've thought that through, I've presented that to them. If there's overlapping activities, I actually want them to know that because that's going to be what happens when we're actually working together. So I'll put weeks 4-7 is this activity. Weeks 8-9 are these activities. And typically that's often enough for clients. Sometimes they will ask for specific dates in which case give those to them as well.

But this is where you notice I didn't start with cost. I started with scope and then I said timeline. I only and only, only, only put the cost after the scope. And there's a reason I do that because if you put the cost first, so if you put the price first, then all they have is a number to look at. There's no context for that number at all. So really the only thing you're asking them to do is to say, "Hey, do you like that number or not like that number?" Because the number doesn't relate to anything.

It doesn't relate to anything until they see the scope and until they see the timeline. So there's really no context at that point for them to be able to judge what they think about that price. So remember, the first they heard the destination, then they heard the context. So I'm layering value in. Then they're going to hear the how. And then at the end of the how is where I will give the cost. And that's where then they now will think about the cost. Most folks anyway will think about the cost relative to what I just told them, rather than think about the cost and now I'm going to tell you what I'm going to do for that cost. And for a lot of folks, they just might be stuck on the cost, which is not helpful for you because then you have to backtrack and say, "No, no, no, but this is really valuable," which is not where you want to be. So that's why I always put that at the end.

Now, there is one option that I get asked about a lot because I have talked about it being magical, and I think in the right circumstance it is magical. You can just give a single offer. So if they said they just want one thing, give them that thing, present it to them and that might be perfectly fine. That's what you agreed upon in the discovery session. You're good. But you can also present options, and one way, not the only way but one way to do that is to present tiers. So this is, in the version that I do, is tiers of increasing value.

I find this helpful, and I'll get into what the details of it are, but I find this really helpful if they don't know exactly what they want or they wanted a few things and we weren't really able to clarify exactly what the full scope is. Often I will ask them if they want me to present them with options, in which case I will usually do it in a tiered fashion. Or it's helpful if they don't know what their budget is or if you have concerns about whether or not they're going to have sticker shock. If you're legitimately concerned about that, then tiering the proposal can be really helpful because it gives them options for them to consider relative to what they want and relative to their budget. And it can be very respectful in that regard.

Now, there is a psychology attached to tiering a proposal, and I'm going to tell you what it is, but I tell you this and I caution against abusing it because you want to be careful that it feels right and it feels good for the client and it doesn't look like you're just trying to upsell them because again, one of the ways to lose a contract is to destroy trust in a proposal as I mentioned earlier. So you don't want to do it just to game it. You want to do it if you really think it's the right thing for the client. And again, everything is oriented towards the client.

There's different schools of thought, and I've actually looked up the psychology on it. And of course, some of the psychology contradicts each other. But in terms of do you present the lowest first or the highest first, I like to present the lowest tier first, and the lowest tier is exactly what they asked for, the minimum that they asked for. The beauty of that is they, again, get to see, "Oh, they heard me. That's a good thing, they heard me." That's what they see first. So they don't see something that surprises them, they see the thing that doesn't surprise them. They see the thing that they were expecting.

And then you put the middle tier and the middle tier is tier-one plus something else that's valuable to them. It could be something else they talked about. It could be a deeper way to go into what they said they wanted and/or perhaps you're offering something more expansive and then they can choose. But something that is extra value. And then the top tier, tier three, is everything in tier one, everything in tier two, and something else of value. This is your knock it out of the park tier. This is your if you really want to get to the best destination, this is the right tier for that. And again, you're not trying to game it, you're presenting it so that it's legitimate.

What I typically do is I will give a brief summary in a nice cool looking table at the beginning where I'll say tier one, here's the result that you get, and here's the scope, anything about the timeline, and then here's the cost. Brief, brief summary. Always putting results first because within each of these tiers, if you're saying that they're going to get more value, that means the results are going to increase. So I do a brief summary table at the beginning, and then I go into the detail; tier one, tier two, tier three. Each one starts with here's the results you get, then I get into the scope, then the timeline, and then the cost for that particular tier. And I always, by the way, use cost because I think that signals that we're referring to what I just said, which is essentially what the result and what the scope is.

Now that's not the only way to present options. So I don't always tier my proposals. I tier my proposals when it makes the most sense for clients. But you can also do something that, I actually don't like the term upsell because it's so centered on the consultant, it's not about the client. I like the term value upgrades or add-ons. I think of it as picking an airline seat. I'm not going to do first-class, but oh, let me get some extra legroom. Think about it as those value upgrades. So this can be really helpful if you don't know how deep they want to go into something, or if you think that there's something that might ultimately be more helpful to them.

So, for example, I'm going to use the strategic planning example again. I can give them a high-level plan. A value upgrade would be, do they actually want an operational plan? Like how do you actually operationalize this? And I will offer that to them if when we were talking they said things like, "Well, the problem is the planning, but the problem is also executing," in which case, ding, ding, ding, I would've asked more questions about the problems they've had actually implemented. So I might offer, "You can get the plan. Here's what the plan will do for you. If you also need help with an operational plan, here's the additional work that I can do for you." That's one way to think about it.

The other thing I sometimes do is what I loosely call as-needed buckets. These are additional dollars that are put into the contract for things that we may or may not do. I find that this helps if I suspect that there's a lot of or I see that there's a lot of uncertainty. If I'm concerned that there's going to be some shifts and I don't want to have to redo the contract every time. I could redo the contract every time, but that often takes time and it often interrupts the work. So I might say, why don't we do...Like I'm going to do a retainer. The retainer's going to have some limits on it or fixed fee or whatever version you're doing, but I'm going to add in an as-needed bucket of hours or I'm going to add some as-needed pool of dollars that we'll be able to tap into with their permission if the scope increases or there's some type of shift that impacts the budget.

That gives them trust that you're not just adding it assuming there's going to be drama, but that you have it in case there's drama, or you have it in case something goes awry that may be totally out of their control and now you need some more hours. They're not surprised at what it is, and there's some cap on it so that they feel comfortable that they're suddenly not going to get a change order or a new contract amendment that is going to give them sticker shocks. So that's another way to present them with options is to offer them this as-needed bucket. There's probably some fancy-pants term for that. I don't know what it is. So that's the one I came up with.

I often then, after I do this section, I want to add the assumption. So if you think you're going on a journey, then this is the part where you're like, all right, here's what you need to know for this journey to be successful. And this is where I really try and be clear so I'm setting appropriate expectations about what will make this journey we're taking together successful and a good experience. So this is where I might clarify who's doing logistics. I will say they have to give me a point person and here's what I need that point person to do. I will clarify if we're going to have regular check-ins and how often those will be and what the purpose is.

If they need to give me information or data, there has to be some transfer of that to me, I will put in assumptions about what that is because if they're late in getting me something, then it throws off the timeline and I can now refer back to the assumptions when I say we have to make adjustments in the timeline, including when you have to make adjustments in the budget. It won't be the first time you said it matters. So that's what I put there.

And then last, we've come to the end of this winning proposal. This is when you talk about you. And it's really the first time that you've talked about yourself in the whole proposal. This section essentially answers the question why are you the right person or the right team to get them to their destination and to enjoy the ride. That's really the only purpose of this. And again, you'll recognize this from Donna Miller's StoryBrand where you are not the hero of the story, they are the hero of the story and you're the guide.

So this is why you're saying, why am I the best guide to do this with you. Why am I the right person or this is the right team to get you where you want to get to. And you write about it from that perspective. So I often will change my bio because I've done a whole bunch of different stuff and I want my bio to be relevant to them, I don't want it to be easy for me to just throw in there. So I often change it so that it's relevant to them and when they see it, they see their industry first. When they see it, they see relevant work first and not just, "Oh, OK. Yeah, Deb's done a bunch of things," because again, I'm trying to convince them I'm the right person to have by your side.

Now I probably convinced them of that in the discovery process, but this is where I'm really going to seal that in their minds. Or if the people I met with in the discovery process aren't the only deciders and they have to share this proposal with someone else, and that person did not have the opportunity to be dazzled by me or dazzled by our team, now they've got something that's going to help them make sense about why you in particular or your team is presenting this proposal to them. That's why it's so important.

This could also be where you add references if they request those. And essentially this is their way to find out from other people why they worked with you and how well they fared when they worked with you and how much they enjoyed getting to the destination with you. And if you have any testimonials that's relevant to their work, you can also include them there. I don't always do that. It depends on the client and it depends on what they're asking, but that's where you could also put those.

Let me get to one big final thing that I want to talk about is in proposals, there are, and I know I said this was a toolbox, but these are your have-tos. Like in every toolbox, you got to have a hammer. You got to have a hammer; you got to have a screwdriver. So let me talk about the hammer and the screwdriver you always got to have. So if you're doing a hybrid proposal and contract, so if this is both of those, then you need to include terms and conditions. This is the legal language that protects you and it protects the client. And this is where getting legal expertise is important. I can't tell you exactly what those terms and conditions are. I have standard ones that I use.

It might depend on where you live. It might be a little bit different. There are different laws pertaining to this. But this is where getting some legal expertise at your fingertips is really helpful. I would not make these up. Things can go wrong despite your best efforts, and this is where you want to be protected in case it does. You want to make sure that there is clarity with a client about the terms and conditions that you're agreeing to. So for example, confidentiality tends to be one of those. This is where it answers questions about intellectual property and what happens if you develop a work product for them, who owns it. Do they own it? Do you own it? Do you get to use it for promotional purposes? All those things need to actually be answered in the terms and conditions. This keeps your relationship on solid ground, and it sets expectations from a legal perspective that are actually really important.

So generally, it stays the same in my proposals and contract. I think the whole time I've probably had, in what, nearly 12 years of consulting, I've probably had somebody ask to change my terms and conditions less than five times. Usually, they're fine with it. Usually, they expect to see things like that. But occasionally it gets changed. But last, if you have a hybrid proposal and contract, this is also where you want to have a place where they can sign and give you their contact information for the invoice. And again, if this can be done electronically, it should be because it reduces friction.

So that essentially is the anatomy of a winning proposal as I have found it. And again, you can hear from the way I described it that you still have a lot of choices to make, but my goal in sharing this with you is that you can then make informed choices that get you more yeses and enable you to do more work that you love. So I will see you on the next episode.

Thanks so much for listening to this episode of the Craft of Consulting Podcast. I want to ask you to do actually three things. If you enjoyed this episode or if you've enjoyed any of my other ones, hit subscribe. I got a lot of other great guests that are coming up and a lot of other great content and I don't want you to miss anything. But the other two things that I'm going to ask you to do is, one is, if you have any comments, so if you have any suggestions or any kind of feedback that will help make this podcast more helpful to more listeners, please include those.

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