Writing proposals that win 80% of deals

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If you want high-ticket clients, proposals make or break your business. Learn how to write a winner.

Most of the time, people don’t believe me when I tell them that it’s 100% possible to close 80% (or more) of the deals you write proposals for. Problem is, most people have no idea how to write a winning proposal.

1. Write the words that matter most, write results

When you’re selling consulting services, you’re selling results. Your clients care about 1. how much money you can make for them or 2. how much money you can save them. That’s it.

People argue this with me all the time. They say, but Kartik, what if my coaching service is about building confidence and self-esteem in executives—

To which I reply:

I bet you sell a lot more self-esteem when you correlate it with higher revenue for those exec’s companies.

As much as it may pain some, all business transactions boil down to dollars made or dollars saved. If you’re a consultant, you’re a business selling things to other businesses (business to business or B2B for short).

So, no matter what you sell—at the end of the B2B day, we’re all selling money.

Here’s what winning proposals say

1. How much money your services will make (or save) the client

2. The objectives/tactics you’ll use to get that dollar amount

3. How little your price is in comparison to what you’ll earn (or save) the client

The above are the sections in your new proposal, like this:

  • Goals (dollars you’re going to make/save the client)
  • Objectives and Tactics (the actions you take to deliver that dollar amount—bonus if this section includes intellectual property of yours)
  • Price (how your price compares to the returns of your work = ROI)

2. Always agree on the price before you send the proposal

In a workshop a few months back. I told the room: agree on the price before you send the proposal.

One person cried to me afterward: I know this sounds crazy, but that’s such simple advice, and I feel like an idiot for not doing something so simple.

I empathized deeply because I’d been there. I felt like an idiot when I realized that what was killing my deals was that my prospects were seeing numbers they simply weren’t prepared to see.

Never send a proposal without first agreeing on the price, unless you’re on a mission to get ghosted.

Agree to price in person or via Skype if you can. A phone is second best. Never try to agree on the price in an email. Do it with your voice so that if they object to price, you can negotiate right then and there. You don’t want to risk an email, or proposal, being ghosted.

Step 3. Know the data and be all about the data

You can only help people if you’re tracking metrics and data. Don’t write blind proposals. Either has the prospect share reports and data with you via phone or email or if you can, have a look at their analytics/data yourself.

For example, if you’re a web development consultant, you need to see web traffic details, SEO performance, cart click-through rates, and more.

A question I’m often askedBut what do you do if your client says, “we don’t have any data.”

Answer: Even better. Your proposal then becomes all about helping them collect and harness data to make better decisions/more money.

A question I’m often asked: But what if you sell something that isn’t typically tracked and you’re not even sure that it’s possible to track with data?

Answer. Be innovative and create your own way (intellectual property) to track data. For example, if you’re an executive coach focused on self-esteem, come up with a confidence tracker or mood scorecard, some way to track TANGIBLE results. Then, correlate those results with money.

Step 4. Sell results, not objectives

Let’s say you provide web development services to e-commerce businesses. You need to calculate a dollar amount that your services are worth.

What special abilities do you have (i.e. SEO skills, a/b testing, personalization) that will drive traffic to that website? How much money is that extra traffic worth?

Let’s say you’re going to drive 20k more hits per month with a new site you’re proposing. You’ve had a look at the prospect’s analytics data and you know they currently convert 1% of visitors to buyers. But, you’re confident you can improve that to 10%. You also know that their average purchase is $100.

So, you’re giving this client: 10% x 20k x $100 = $200k per month.

Your proposal should break those numbers down—just like they are above, spell it out. Then, you need to back those results up with case studies, testimonials, and references from happy clients.

Go write winners

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Why Startups Fall Apart at 50 Employees

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Ask anyone who’s worked at more than one startup and they’ll probably tell you the same thing: Young companies start to go off the rails once they hit 50 employees. I call this the “teenager” startup phase.

What does this look like?

Employee one through 10: At a certain point, the original employees stop learning new people’s names. They won’t come right out and say it but they start to resent having to show yet another noob how to do the same simple things. Their tolerance for mistakes, even for the same mistakes they once made themselves, goes into the toilet.

Employee 10 through 25: The second tier of employees then starts to form small, protective cliques. They may occasionally drop references to the “good old days.” They place growing importance on things like titles and status. Discussions might start to percolate about adopting the title prefix “Senior.”

Employee 26 through 39: This is the group where power plays start to happen. If the “teens” are going to form tribes, the late-twenties and thirties are going to start raising hell against the old guard.

Employees 40 through 49: WTF is going on?

While this scenario may not be true for every employee in every group, it always happens to at least a few people after a startup hits 50 employees. Like I said, I’ve been in each group and I’ve exhibited each of these behaviors, so I’m not judging here.

Well, maybe I’m judging a little. But we need to talk about what to do when your company feels like it’s going off the rails. We need to get our teenage startups out of the house and into the world like functioning adults.


Hitting chaos at 50 employees could mean several positive things. For one, it definitely means a company is growing, likely faster than planned. And as long as the growth doesn’t get too far out of hand, that’s a good problem to have.

If growth is indeed happening and it’s organic, your company has probably already developed an internal culture, lexicon, and set of operations that may not be documented but are definitely understood. Communication probably happens more on a face-to-face and on-demand basis than in memos and meetings, which means there’s likely not a lot of time wasted getting everyone on the same page.

Chaos is also a sign that your company’s executives are spending time building the product, penetrating the market, and satisfying customers. They’re probably not hung up on the structure of the company itself. But the chaos is also definitely a sign that it’s time to start paying attention to this gawky teenager of a company before it rebels and runs away.

Even if everything goes right, things will go wrong.

As any parent knows, there’s no cure for the teenage years; we just have to wait it out. There’s an old buzz theme about the chaos that I hate: “Storming, forming, norming, performing.” It applies here, but I hate it because I don’t think it actually helps us.

We can’t cure chaos. But we can put measures in place to survive the storm. Here are the measures I’m most familiar with or intrigued by:

Do nothing

This is a valid option. A lot of companies do this until they start losing people. And by “do nothing,” I don’t mean doing absolutely nothing. That’s impossible because issues will come up and we can’t hide from them. Instead, “doing nothing” means proactively doing nothing and then solving each issue as it arises.

I don’t recommend this solution.

Think about what happens when we start to hand out titles like “senior” without rules for how those titles get handed out. Let’s talk about meetings. We’ll need rules as to when and how they get created. Otherwise, everyone’s calendar will eventually fill up, conference rooms will become scarce, and nothing will ever get done. Even things like working remotely need to be considered. If we don’t have standards in place, and even if everything goes right, things will go wrong. I’m not just talking about abuse here; I’m also talking about how the rest of the team can be effective when one or more of their co-workers aren’t in the same place.

Startups are usually scared of becoming stale, corporate, or heavy-handed. And I get it: I hate those things too. But at some point, the structure becomes mandatory and it’s better to be proactive about it.

What I’d rather do: Centralize and be transparent. At the very least, create a single truth for rules, processes, guidelines, and FAQs. Make sure everyone has access to those documents. Then be transparent about why you’re doing things the way you do them. This isn’t just about rules; it’s also about the company’s overall philosophy.

Hire tons of middle managers

This is the polar opposite of the “do nothing” strategy, and I’d compare it to using a sledgehammer to crack a nut. This strategy usually happens way too early in a company’s growth cycle. Plus, hiring more people to manage other people means wasting a lot of productivity for a little bit of order.

If we’re hiring managers from outside the company because they have experience leading teams at larger companies, they’ll have to integrate themselves and learn how we operate before they can be effective. Often these people will try to bring their older, larger company’s schema with them, which doesn’t fit.

But if we promote from within, we’re likely burdening our best people with something we didn’t hire them for. For example, often a CTO will take the best developer and say: “Here, manage the rest of your team for 50 percent of your time.” Then the developer’s productivity bottoms out on the coding side, and the rest of their team becomes resentful on the management side.

What I’d rather do: Create owners and team leads instead of bosses. At 50 employees, people usually don’t need management. However, things and processes do. This includes the product, the front-end development, the hiring, the invoicing, and whatever else you can think of. Give various people ownership of those things or make them team leads of those processes.

Do what that other company did

I’m all for stealing smart ways of doing things and adopting them as our own. I steal bits of Agile for methodology. I nick stuff from Amazon all the time for strategy. I really like what Lyft is doing with UX. But do you remember the trend from about three years ago when several Silicon Valley companies tried to solve income disparity by making everyone’s salary public? Yeah. That was a valid problem but there’s no way you can convince me that making every salary public was the solution. That strategy may be working for them (or not), but I don’t have any evidence that it will work for my company.

Trendy solutions come and go. Open workspaces were all the rage to promote teamwork, then earbuds happened. Unlimited vacation is starting to wane as a recruiting tool. On the other side, parental leave for work-life balance looks like it will stick. My point is that just because one, some, or even most companies are adopting a policy, that doesn’t mean it will work for you.

What I’d rather do: Divide and experiment. Take pieces of policies from different companies and run small experiments to see if they’ll work in your environment.

Stop hiring and outsource

This strategy says: Once we hit a certain number of employees, we can stop hiring and outsource everything. This could include some clean breaks, like outsourcing all of the development, all of the human resources, or all of the support. It could also mean adding external resources to internal teams, like consultants and independent contractors, offshore teams, and third-party service providers.

This strategy will let you run a tight ship. You can expand and contract on the rocky growth road without cutting headcount. On the other hand, 50 employees are usually just a stepping stone to 100 employees or 1,000 or sometimes even more than that. There are huge risks in having all that knowledge and experience out-of-house.

This strategy is also trickier to implement than it sounds. We’ll have to make surgical cuts as we grow and once we hit the 49th employee, what happens next? What happens when we find that next awesome hire? Do we need to let someone else go, or should we wait for someone to quit?

What I’d rather do: Lease with the option to buy. A lot of startups bring on contractors and part-timers who eventually become employees—but only when there’s enough money, enough runway, and enough need for that resource. I built two of my startups that way. Do this on a larger scale as you grow, absorbing teams when it makes sense. Run each team like an independent organization within the company.


If there’s a cure for chaos at 50 employees, it might have its roots in that last solution. What if a company organizational chart didn’t flow vertically from top to bottom but rather looked like a series of pods? Those pods could have their own pods if needed. Then company leaders would exist as a single-person pod with spokes to the larger pods.

Each pod would be run independently, like its own little company within the company. Then the outsourced resources could be their own pods, and they could come, go, and be absorbed as necessary.

I don’t know if this strategy would work. It might be wild, and it’s certainly hard to put on a sheet of paper. I’m sure it comes with its own set of problems. But my point is if we want a cure for the chaos of 50 employees, we need to build a different kind of company that runs in a unique way from day one.

And until that happens, we need to keep an eye on our teenage startup until it becomes a functioning adult.

Useful Chrome extensions for web developers and designers

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Chrome extensions are very useful for both the developers and designers, some of these extensions enhance the abilities of developer tools, some replicate the features in developer tools. Every extension in the chrome marketplace are valuable in certain scenarios but installing all of them is not a wise thing. Among many extensions, there are extensions available for web developers and web designers. Few worthy extensions are listed in this article to help out the new developers and designers.

 

1 Responsive Web Design Tester

Responsive Web Design Tester chrome extension helps developers and designers to ensure that the website is responsive or not.

2 WhatRuns

Whatruns chrome extension helps to discover the technology stacks implemented in a site. With a single click it identifies the types of front-end frameworks, types of marketing strategies, Content Delivery Network (CDN), Content Management System (CMS), are identified.No signup required and it is completely free.

3 ColorZilla

ColorZilla is an advanced and most popular color picker and eye dropper tool for both chrome and firefox.

4 UserSnap

Usersnap lets you capture your screen and allows you to annotate on the captured image.

5 PageRuler

Pageruler is used to get the dimensions of an element, its position in a webpage. Measurements are in the form of pixels. To get the measurement, simply we have to draw in the page and it displays the height, width.

6 Dimensions

Dimensions is a tool for designers to measure screen dimensions. Measuring happens in a vertical and horizontal way that is from mouse pointers up/down and left/right.

Dimensions work perfectly for elements like input-fields, buttons, videos, text icons, gifs but it doesn’t suit for measuring images.

7 WhatFont

Whatfont helps to lookup the fonts used in a webpage. It identifies the font family of a text by just hovering to the font. It also detects the services from where the fonts are served like Typekit and Google font API.

8 PerfectPixel

PixelPerfect is for designers, with the help of this extension one can design a pixel perfect design with perfect accuracy. This extension allows users to put a semi-transparent overlay to compare their design and outcome.

 

Best Tips & Practices For WordPress

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Undoubtedly, WordPress is one of the best, flexible, and easy-to-use & update and SEO friendly CMS which comes with thousands of essential WordPress plugins and themes that makes building a WordPress website a breeze.

However, unlike other CMS software’s WordPress too, require daily maintenance in order to work smoothly. Having a well-maintained WordPress website that offers a hassle-free user experience is the key to a successful online business.

Therefore to help you in this, I have come up with useful WordPress website maintenance best practices that will provide you with a comprehensive list for making your WordPress website user-friendly and SEO friendly.

Website Speed Test

Regularly checking website’s page speed and loading time is essential as they help to enhance user experience which result in more traffic and sales.

Look For Broken Links

Broken links can have negative impact on your SEO rankings since it stops search engine robots from effectively indexing your website therefor it is essential to find and fix the broken links immediately.

301 Redirect

Clicking on a link and landing on a 404 page is quite frustrating for a website user. Hence, to avoid this implement 301 redirect to redirect web pages with broken links to other similar pages.

Update WordPress Version

To ensure your website’s security is robust and to not miss out new features, it is necessary that you always upgrade your website to the latest version of WordPress.

Delete Spam Comments

To make sure your website is optimized and clutter-free, it is vital to clear up spam comments from your website.

Delete Unwanted Plugins & Regularly Updated Them

Too many plugins can affect your website speed as well as pose a security treads, therefor it is critical that you remove unnecessary plugins from your website.

Since outdated plugins leave your website open to malicious hacks. Therefore, prevent this, ensure that you always updated plugins to the latest version.

Clear Trash

Clearing out database trash should be a part of your daily maintenance to make sure your website runs and functions smoothly.

Media Files Clean-Up

One of the biggest reasons you run out of storage space on your website is because of redundant and temporary media files. Thus, cleanup those unnecessary junk files from your media library in order to improve the performance of your WordPress website.

Optimize Database Tables

Clearing database table after removing plugin or a theme will help to optimize your database leading to enhance website speed.

Test Browser & Device Compatibility

If your website runs on difference browsers and devices then checking its compatibility on each of them is essential if you don’t want to lose out on potential traffic.

Image Optimization

Using optimized images on site, you are able to deliver content at a faster rate which resulting in improve search engine indexing as well as enhanced user experience.

Check Website Navigation

Unruly navigation can be a major source of frustration for users. Therefore, check all navigation links on your website to deliver smooth and hassle-free user experience.

Remove Post Revisions & Drafts

If you blog on a regular basis, then there are chances that your database clogged with post revisions and drafts. Thus, it is necessary that you review them on a regular basis and delete them to keep your database optimized.

W3C Validation

To make sure website pages are not violating any norms or standards of W3C organization, it is critical that you validate your website from time to time.

Disable Automatic WordPress Update

With automatic update chances are very high of website break, its best practice to update WP core and plugins locally first and then apply it on the live site.

Database Backup

Backing up your website database is of utmost importance in order to ensure that your business doesn’t suffer a major setback in the event of a server failure or hacking.

If Database is gone all gone, its best practice to take backup of DB on daily basis or at least weekly. As if server crashes or site gets hacked you have recent version of site which can be used for the restoration. Backup buddy is one of the best plugin for this purpose.

Update Your Content

Keep your website content fresh and updated to avoid hurting your website’s ranking and traffic.

Review On-Page SEO

Make sure all on-page SEO elements are present on a web page or a post is essential for a SEO friendly website.

Check Website Security

Website security should be given a top priority on your daily maintenance checklist to ensure that your website is functioning smoothly and it’s safe from all malware, viruses and other internet security threats.

Disable Trackbacks & Pingbacks

Disabling trackbacks and pingbacks in WordPress is the best way to restrict spams on your website.

Change Passwords

One of the most effective ways to prevent malicious attacks and hack attempts on your site is to change your passwords frequently.

Disable Debug Mode

Disable debug mode in WordPress to prevent error messages from being published on your live site.

Keep Eyes On Web Host Statistics

Checking up on server uptime, bandwidth usage, disk space and CPU throttling is another essential WordPress maintenance task that you should not ignore.

Increase Memory Limit

The memory limit in WordPress is by default set at 32MB. However, as your business grow, it is essential that you review and increase your site’s memory limit (disk space) in order to seamlessly upload images, video and other files.

Run Website Through WP Checkup

From website’s security and performance scanning to SEO and more, running a WP Checkup will help identify any issues on your website in a sec.

 

 

Web Development Tips for Website Success

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Website success does not only mean that you are having more number of visitors on your website…what matters is that we are having those visitors who enjoy being active on our website and they really look forward for the new updates we bring either in our article or website. Website success depends on the functionality, user’s feedback which indirectly would complement the content of the website.

Here are 10 best web development tips to make your website successful:

  1. Avoid Complications

  2. Get Best Developing team

  3. Social Media Marketing

  4. Content

  5. Design is important

  6. Easy Navigation

  7. Interaction with Users

  8. Mobile Friendly

  9. Pick the appropriate images

  10. White Space

With proper planning / road-map and evaluating all the problems faced you can make your websites successful. In this article, I tried to cover most of the points which were important for a sustainable website development but the last tip I would add is “Experience is the best teacher”.

What’s the Best Option for Your Web Design Project? Waterfall, Agile or Hybrid

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One of the first decisions every project manager has to make at the start of a new web development project is which methodology to use. For many years, waterfall was the favored system. However, its inflexibility coupled with rapid changes in technology meant the agile methodology has become a buzzword in modern software development.

But what if instead of moulding the project to suit the process, you could adapt the process to fit the project?

In recent years, a third kid has been muscling his way onto the block. The hybrid methodology combines the strengths of waterfall and agile while removing many of their disadvantages, as Tom discussed in a recent article for Clutch.

Before we take a closer look at the hybrid methodology, let’s review the advantages and disadvantages of waterfall and agile.

The Waterfall Methodology

Waterfall has long been the standard way of approaching software development. It’s a very structured system that follows a linear process, with each stage – analysis > design > execution > testing > implementation > maintenance – requiring completion before the next stage can be started.

Because the workflow flows sequentially, like a waterfall, it’s difficult to go back to a prior stage. This means waterfall is characterized by thorough and rather intense documentation, so all team members are on the same page.

The Pros and Cons of Waterfall

While waterfall is often dismissed as being old-fashioned and no longer fit for purpose, it has its advantages. Its static nature and predictable workflow make it easy to estimate the costs, timeframe and size of the project, and its meticulous documentation makes projects more secure – if a developer drops out halfway through, a new developer will be able to step in relatively easily. It’s also more accurate when it comes to predicting the final outcome.

But it has one rather large disadvantage: it’s very inflexible.

Because waterfall relies on a set of steps being completed to continually move a project forwards, there’s little room for unexpected changes or revisions. And with technology and market trends changing at a seemingly ever-increasing pace, if the client wants to add or remove an element partway through the project, it could derail everything, costing you time and the client money. It has an element of uncertainty, too, because there’s little ability to test the product until the final stages, so if something is out of date or doesn’t work you have the same problem.

Essentially, it’s not cut out for dealing with rapid market changes. And as for all the paperwork…

The Agile Methodology

In musical terms, if waterfall is the classical sonata then agile is free jazz. Less a methodology and more a set of principles and values, the agile system breaks projects down into quick iterative tasks, called sprints.

Agile teams collaborate closely to deliver different sections of the project at the same time. Development can begin sooner, and the sprints allow for regular testing and refinement. This makes it easy to incorporate new ideas and revisions, and it allows for rapidly changing design elements.

There are several different systems under the agile umbrella, including Scrum, Kanban, Lean and Extreme Programming (XP).

The Pros and Cons of Agile

It’s little surprise that the biggest advantage of agile is its flexibility and ability to cope with a rapidly changing industry like software development. Agile’s lean approach means the customer can see results quickly and elements can be added or removed with less fuss. There’s less risk involved too, thanks to regular testing, while the product can stay in step with the latest advances in technology or market trends.

But it’s far from perfect and doesn’t suit every project.

With the focus on short-term sprints, it’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture with the project veering off track. This means it can be difficult to accurately estimate the price and timeframe, and the final product may appear different from its initial product design. What’s more, the quality of the product can suffer as the focus is on speed.

The Hybrid Methodology

The hybrid methodology combines the best of waterfall and agile in a system that suits most web development projects. The principles behind waterfall form the foundation of most software projects, so hybrid uses the planning seen in waterfall, then breaks the development cycle into sprints. As soon as the MVP is ready, that can be shipped while the team continues to make improvements.

Because the planning follows the waterfall methodology, it means project teams have a solid foundation before starting work and they can give a more accurate estimate of time, cost and the end product. However, with the work completed in small, iterative chunks, the team can react to market and customer demands as the product develops.

So, the hybrid methodology marries the organization of waterfall with the speed and flexibility of agile, while at the same time removing elements of risk.


Ultimately, each web design project is unique and what works for one could be completely wrong for another. Next time you hire a web development team for a project, don’t get too caught up in which methodology you want to use. Discuss your requirements and expectations with the team, then you can decide between you which methodology or combination works best for that specific project.

How do you decide which methodology to choose for a web development project? Do you prefer waterfall, agile or hybrid? Tell me your thoughts.

Top 5 open source project management tools for your business

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Taking responsibilities of project manager is not at all easy. You have to keep everything in mind like budget, time complexities, scope, etc. Sometimes it too happens that you were not aware which complexity is going to strike you at end time and also multiple tasks are also pending to be done. To avoid such problems we have got you some amazing open source project management (PM) tools to make your business run at the speed of bullet train.

  1. Open Project: This is web-based project management tools and is having an active development status. It carries the GNU General Public License Version 3. Many of the features are provided by Open Project such as – Gantt Charts, Task Management, Time tracking software, Bug tracking software, proper budgeting, Wiki, Agile & Scrum and many premium features are also available in it. Many companies such as Nokia, Siemens, Deutsche Telekom use this tool and as we know how popular are these companies in the market. This tool is recommendable because it includes all the main features which are required for project management like it helps to get project conception, project planning, project execution, project control and project close.
  2. Project Libre:Project Libre is a leading open source founded to replace the Microsoft Project desktop. It carries the license of Common Public Attribution License (CPAL) and is written in Java (a code language). It provides features such as – Network Diagram, WBS (work breakdown structure) charts, resource histograms, Gantt Charts and to earn value costing. It has won InfoWorld “Best Open Source” award. It considered to be more compatible than Microsoft Project 2007, 2008 and 2010 files. It is going to soon launch new feature ‘Cloud Project Management’. This would help to manage multiple projects at any time and any place. Abbott, IBM, Cisco, etc. use this software.
  3. Odoo: Odoo is an open source which consist all the company needs such as project management, accounting, customer relationship management (CRM), sales, eCommerce, billing, etc. It carries the “Community” version of GNU Lesser General Public License for the open source features and “Enterprise” version of Proprietary License for other commercial and services features. This tool is fully integrated and is very easy to use. It has very strong technical foundation and thus it carries a very unique framework. You will get all the features which are required for developing, accounting, sales, marketing and many more. Many top brands such as Toyota, Hyundai, Trident, etc. use this tool.
  4. Zentao: Zentao is one of the leading open source project management software as it provide free lifetime upgrade. It has many features like product management which includes Plan, roadmap, etc.; project management, QA management which includes test case, bug management, etc.; routine management which includes My Task, My To-Do list, My Bug, etc; document management and Score code management. It has various plug-ins and also has the powerful extension mechanism.
  5. Wekan: Wekan is free, open source project task management and collaboration software that uses the Kanban approach for simple and fast workflow. With Wekan, project managers can create boards on which cards can be dragged around between columns. It is very easy to use and has interactive project management After the creation of boards, users need to simply add the project team to the project and everything is set to take off. Wekan is released under the MIT License and is open for modifications and enhancements. It gives users full control over their data and can be hosted on the server. The Wekan community consists of over 400,000 members, which means there is a vibrant community working towards further improvements.