How to make design proposals that will win you more projects

The two major challenges one faces when pitching for a design project are:

  1. Other vendors quote very low rates (and increase it later).
  2. Clients don’t understand the complexity of a design project.

Both these need to be addressed in your proposal. A good proposal should help convert the lead and set you up to execute a successful project.

In today’s times designers and builders face tough competition. It’s common for home owners to get multiple quotes for their design projects. Apart from boutique design firms like you, larger players like LivSpace and HomeLane also pitch for renovation projects. With that in mind it’s essential to make a great impression upfront. Your project proposal is the document that will differentiate you from the clutter and build the trust that is essential to win projects.

What does a winning proposal entail?

The secret to a successful proposal is to anticipate the questions in the clients mind, and then respond to those in a concise and sleek proposal. The client wants a team of experts whom they can trust. Forget about name dropping and heavy discounting, instead focus on highlighting your integrity and process.

So what are these questions in the clients mind? 

Well It’s not very hard to know what the client is thinking: What will my project cost? Why will it cost that much; How much time will it take? Why will it take so long; Who are you? Why should I trust you.

While these questions are straight forward, the way you answer them is key to building trust. For example when forecasting a project budget don’t offer a thumb rule based ‘rate times area’ calculation, instead do a detailed breakup or BOQ. A good estimate itemizes the tasks and products that you believe are right for this project. Similarly when it comes to the project timeline, don’t just throw out a number like ’90 days’, qualify it with a breakup or gantt chart that helps the client appreciate the importance of sequencing the tasks correctly, and the expertise required to manage a project efficiently.

This gives the client an insight into your expertise, process and transparency. Everyone involved understands that the budget will evolve, but it’s important to present the base document in way that sets up the scope of work clearly.

Presentation is extremely important. Sending a rough excel sheet or a badly designed document will create a bad impression. Yes you are busy and have limited resources, but if you don’t care enough to compose a nice proposal, you don’t really care about this project.

Lastly, don’t try to win projects by charging a low fee. Remember the client is about to spend a lot of his hard earned money and is extremely insecure of being cheated out of a large sum, trust is his foremost concern. It’s your job to make him understand the complexity of the project, and why he needs a trustworthy professional like you to manage it. If the client is impressed by your proposal he will be happy to pay an appropriate fee for your service.

Do leave your comments and share your experience with design proposals.