Guerrilla Tactic The Consultants Balance Sheet

If possible, in either the executive summary or the results section of the proposal, note how the benefits of the project align with the fees for the project. In many cases, consulting fees are a fraction of the benefit clients receive, so bring that fact to the client's attention.

level of effort needed to complete the assignment and will be essential in deciding what fees to charge.

Describe the members of the team with sufficient detail to show clients how each contributes to the result. List all team members, set forth their qualifications, and their roles in the project. Don't list "to-be-named team members," but state their actual names.

In proposals, consultants routinely promise to assign their best and brightest to the project. Chuck the hype and let team members' qualifications speak for them. Provide a detailed resume, customized for this assignment, for each team member.

Many clients will insist on meeting the team members before approving the project. Anticipate this request and plan to have the client interview your team members as part of the proposal process.

This section (also known as "the schedule") sets forth the time period for completing the project, and each component segment. Be realistic and don't make promises you can't keep. Link all projected time frames to the availability of your resources, the client's team, vendors, suppliers, and others who may be involved. Incorrectly estimating the length of a project, or a component segment, can jeopardize profitability and your relationship with the client.

Build the schedule with extreme care, diligence, and the client's collaboration. Take into consideration the client's issues, politics, culture, and seasonal demands. And remember that your client's employees also have company jobs to perform. Don't overlook vacations, holidays, and inevitable sick days, which can wreak havoc with the best-laid plans.

Describe the controls that you will employ to monitor timely performance and to keep the project on time. Show how you plan to make sure that the project will start on time, stay on schedule, and make up for any lost time.

► Fees and Risk Reversal

On receiving a proposal, recipients always go straight to the fees section to check the bottom line and learn how much the project will cost. Pricing is discussed in detail in Chapter 17, but here are some basic rules about how to present fees in a proposal.

The fees you quote in a proposal must be clear and unmistakable. You may present the client with a range of pricing options depending on how the project is staffed or the results to be delivered. It is helpful for clients to see options.

Some consultants like to describe their fees using the term investment, as in "Your investment in this project is $100,000." Clients see right through this nonsense, so tell them straight up what the project will cost. If the project is an investment, clients will amortize the cost on their balance sheets. Let the client decide whether the project is an investment or an expense.

Give guarantees. State, "If our service fails to meet your expectations, we'll cut our fees in half." Every client takes risks when they hire a consultant; so let clients see that your price has a built-in risk reversal provision. A guarantee helps to ease nagging uncertainties clients have about hiring consultants.

Also specify how you expect to get paid for your services. State how much you want up front, in periodic payments during the project, and on project completion.

In most cases, it's appropriate to request a substantial part of the fees before you start the project; 25 percent to 35 percent is desirable. If your relationship with the client is solid, up-front payment should not be a problem. Most clients understand that consultants operate businesses and that cash flow is always a concern.

► Qualifications

Now you can toot your horn as loudly as you wish. Prior to this, your proposal should have focused on convincing clients that you understand their needs and on explaining your approach. Now it's time to sell yourself.

Bring to life why clients should use your services and why they should want you on their team. Highlight the challenges you faced working through similar problems, the ways that you resolved them,

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