Several days ago, it was my pleasure to speak with Troy Dean, founder of WP Elevation; world’s largest WordPress mastermind community that has one common goal – to provide you directions on how to build a business around your WordPress skills. It all starts with the proposal – this template has brought tens of millions of dollars to members of the WP Elevation program. Sounds nice, right? Let’s check out what is it about.
WP Elevation is primarily a course for WordPress consultants which lasts for 6-8 weeks, with the aim of bringing people from where they are to having a thriving WordPress consultancy practice. Many join initially to get the content, proposal template and materials but soon realise the extreme value of the community.
Freelancers find other people which are in the same stage of business as they are, and the beauty of the group is hidden in the constant support and friendship.
During hurricane Irma in America, when thousands were without electricity, WP Elevation members from all over the world helped their American peers with deadlines and client work. On another occasion, there was a case when few members of the group gathered to build a charity website, because one of the members, on his trip to Miami, found a humanitarian who was doing an incredible job without any website at all. The site was built in a day, not to earn any money, but to serve the community.
If you’re more into numbers rather than an emotional rollercoaster, you might want to know that the WP Elevation members collectively bring in over 50 million dollars per year and increasing using this exact proposal template. I went through it in detail with Troy, because sometimes just seeing the template is not enough. You need to understand why something is the way it is.
Keep reading for highlights or watch the interview in it’s entirety.
The first page of this proposal is the page your clients spend most of their time. It should be more about the company the proposal is for, and not about the company that’s writing it. A common mistake is to put your portfolio on the first page. As Theodore Roosevelt said:
People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
At this stage in the proposal, they don’t care about you. They want to know that you understand their current challenges and you can solve their problems.
Most clients only look at the first page and pricing page. This is why you need to grab them immediately which will motivate them to continue reading. Also, your subheadings throughout the proposal should tell the story and be in the flow, otherwise you might lose the potential project in just a few seconds.
In this part where you present the key benefits of a new website for your client’s business. Sounds simple, but do you structure this?
If you’ve done your discovery process well, you’ll already have a clear idea what the client needs and what their target audience needs. After that talk, your client should also know roughly what to expect from the proposal. There should be no surprises with the content or prices.
For example, Troy’s friend Tim owns a picture framing family business. After a few hours, Troy discovered the needs of the business were things such as:
Also, they discussed the target audience (DIY men from 30 to 50 years and 45+ women interested in home renovation, improvement, and innovative design. They were ready to spend money if they could find what they wanted. Their needs were:
With these simple bullet points, Troy gives Tim all the benefits of the new site, which solve all of his challenges.
Troy also encourages the big shift – from treating the website like it’s for the client when it’s really for their customers. This shift lowers the scope creep dramatically.
When the client gets nervous about small details like the color of the font, you can simply ask them “Have the goals of the project changed? No? Okay, then lets carry on”. Remind them of these goals and let the market decide whether or not you’re on the right track.
Having a deep understanding of the client’s audience removes lots of unnecessary scope creep.
Ever heard about the AIDA model? It has four phases (Attract – Interest – Desire – Action), this model creates a flow for each customer experience. In this proposal, the Attract phase is in the Snapshot, Interest is the Business/Audience Needs section, and increasing the Desire belongs in the Solution section.
Here you should explain to your potential clients how this new site will benefit them. (e.g. It will allow Tim’s target audience, DIY men aged 30-50 to find the right tools, tutorials, and solutions. Moreover, it will encourage them to visit the store with promo codes and coupons),
Don’t use much tech jargon here. Don’t confuse your potential client, because confused people don’t buy anything.
In this part, Troy clarifies necessary steps and timescales for the project. The timeline sets the expectations and provides the client with enough information about the development process, but is not overloaded with details and small steps. Save that for your team’s timeline.
Always a tricky part – pricing. Still, there is no need to struggle with it. Once you understand that decent pricing is something you need in order to stay profitable and sustainable for your target audience, you’ll make the shift.
Your revenues need to cover your costs, but also give you significant profit. Consider this – your price need to cater for any hard costs (software, team, copywriting etc) + daily business costs + profit margins. You owe yourself, your team and clients the profitability. If you lose, you can’t serve anyone.
This all becomes much easier when you’ve had a conversation with the client about their budget. Troy has an amazing trick – First, he asks his client if they even have the budget prepared for this, to know how serious they are. He then adds:
“You don’t have to tell me your exact budget but if we know, we can tell you immediately what we can and can’t do. Also, you should know our projects typically range from x to x”
He has just set the pricing expectation without pushing anyone to tell the information about the budget.
Pricing should be explained during the primary conversation, so they’re not surprised when they get the proposal. Before saying the price, always educate them.
Until this moment in the proposal, they have already created their emotional decision will they work with you or not. Now, they need a rational one too. That’s why this part has the most technical information and common questions answered. Educate them and present your skills, so their rational side can justify choosing you.
Remember AIDA framework? The last A, Action, is hidden here. The Client needs the clear instructions on exactly what to do next.
In other words – Terms & conditions. It gets both you and your client on the same page, making everything clear and precise. Avoid courts and arguments – explain everything in advance.
As you know, seeing the proposal is one thing, but understanding the whole concept will get you further. This is why Troy and I wanted to give you a detailed explanation of every page of this proposal.
Full disclosure, the URL above is technically an affiliate link but we don’t take money from friends. We’re still working out the details but it’ll be donated or put towards a cause of some description that is important to both Troy and Adam.
Also published on Medium.