Writing proposals for free doesn’t pay the bills

If you’re writing a proposal for every client that shows up with a squishy, weirdly defined problem, you’re costing yourself money.
If you can kick this nasty habit to the curb, you’ll work with better clients, make more money, and save time.

Real talk: most proposals you write are at best an educated guess based off of an initial conversation with a lead who doesn't understand their own problem.

Before you make a guess about scope, price, or timeline — let alone goals and measures of success — shouldn’t you learn more? Have a dedicated meeting (or series of meetings) to discuss the client’s strategy, the project’s goals, and their ideas of timeline and budget?

The way many of us solo consultants approach writing proposals is haphazard at best — and broken at worst.

When a client comes to you with a squishy, ill-defined problem, a proposal isn’t the right answer.

You don’t yet know enough to write a proposal.

You need more information.

On top of that, since you can’t tell from the outside if someone doesn’t have a budget, you’re probably writing too many proposals.

If you’re spending an average of 4 hours each week writing, negotiating, and chasing after proposals and quotes, that’s 200 hours each year you’re spending on proposal writing.

And if you close a healthy 33% of the proposals you’re sending out, that means you’re not closing 66% of the proposals you’re writing.

If you’re spending 200 hours (4 hours each week) on proposals, the means you’re spending ~130 hours/year on proposals that don’t get accepted. If you charge $50/hour for your time, that’s $6,500/year that’s headed into the trash.

What if you could eliminate (most) proposal writing from your business?

What if the recommended way for new clients to start started working with you was an initial paid strategy and discovery project — a project roadmap.

When a client shows up with a squishy, ill-defined problem and needs your help, you could tell them, “Hey, I have a process for just this type of project.”

Before you sit down and crank out a proposal, you’ll start by learning more about the client’s problem: the current situation, what they’ve already tried, and their goals.

That way, your project and relationship starts with a discovery-focused phase to collaboratively understand the problem and goals and define a path from where they are today to where they want to be.

And, best of all? You’d get compensated for this project. You’d be paid for the insight and expertise you contribute in helping take their problem from ‘squishy thing we don’t really understand’ to something with a defined project roadmap and initial strategy.

And if the time ever comes to write a proposal to work with this client, you would write it with an insider’s knowledge of the client’s business, goals, timeline, and budget. That’s a powerful advantage.

Start selling strategic roadmaps and discovery projects

Sure, you could continue spending literally 100+ hours each year writing proposals that get rejected and tossed into the trash.

Or you could start selling a new fixed-priced productized service: strategic roadmaps and project discovery.

You could eliminate the pains of proposal writing from your business.

  • Keep out the time-wasting tire-kickers
  • Start to position yourself as someone who can do strategy and implementation
  • Reclaim the wasted time spent writing proposals and quotes that aren’t accepted

The truth is you deserve to start charging for what you’ve been giving away for free in your proposals — strategic insights and expertise on how to solve problems based on your years of experience working with clients and solving their problems.

On top of that, when you start selling roadmaps, you’ll find that your project close rate increases (and you work with fewer deadbeat clients.)

When you have a fixed-priced productized service you can easily point to as a starting point to working together (e.g., a $500 roadmapping project), the budgetless tirekickers just disappear.

They say, “Hey, send me a proposal.” You say, “It’s $500 for an initial discovery project, would you like to move forward?” and they fade off into the bushes. Suddenly, a huge chunk of those ghosted proposals just disappear from your life.

Plus, because roadmaps are a great initial project, you might not ever need to write a formal quote or proposal to continue working with the client.

After the initial roadmapping project, the next step in your relationship with your client might be as simple as saying:

You: “Alright, you need A and B. I recommend tackling A first. I can handle that for you and it’ll cost $X. Should I send over an invoice?”
Your Client: “Sounds great. Let’s do it 👍”

Learn how to launch and deliver a roadmap with Quick Start Roadmapping

Inside Quick Start Roadmapping, you’ll get everything you need to stop writing proposals and start selling high-value strategy-focused discovery projects.

You’ll get answers to your questions on roadmapping, based on my 7+ years selling roadmaps and teaching my clients how to sell roadmaps:

  • What should your price be?
  • What meetings should you have?
  • What deliverables should you include?

It’s easy to talk at a high level about roadmaps, but how do you approach selling a strategy offering step-by-step?

You’ll get ‘do this, not that’ advice on launching a roadmapping offer, plus  answers to your questions inside Quick Start Roadmapping. The book and videos are packed full of insights and answers to important questions.

Plus, Quick Start Roadmapping includes a roadmapping resource library with:

  • Tools
  • Videos
  • Guides
  • Interviews
  • Resources
  • Templates
  • Worksheets

15 items to help you get started, launch your roadmap, market it, sell it, and deliver it to your client.

And when you sell your first roadmap — no matter if you sell it for $500, $1500, or $5000+ — you’ll see a fantastic return on your investment in Quick Start Roadmapping.

"What's inside the complete package of Quick Start Roadmapping?"

With your purchase, you’ll receive the complete Quick Start Roadmapping, including all of the following:

Quick Start Roadmapping: The Book

This book covers the big picture strategy and the step-by-step tactics of roadmapping, including offering, selling, and delivering projects to your clients.(Available in PDF, ePub, and Mobi format).

The 15-item Roadmapping Resource Library

The Roadmapping Resource Library is a treasure. Inside, you’ll find 15 resources, including tools, templates, and videos. It’s a lot of resources:

  1. Roadmapping Kickoff Questionnaire Template
  2. Video Walkthrough of the Questionnaire (5 Minutes)
  3. Kickoff Questionnaire Question Swipe File
  4. Kickoff Meeting Agenda
  5. Roadmapping Standard Operating Procedures
  6. Video Walkthrough of the Meeting Agenda and Standard Operating Procedures (11 Minutes)
  7. Report Deliverable Template
  8. Video Walkthrough of Report Deliverable Template (5 Minutes)
  9. Roadmapping Deliverable Planner
  10. Roadmapping Pricing Planner
  11. Post-Roadmap Project Proposal Template
  12. Advisory Sheet: Top Mistakes To Avoid With Roadmapping projects
  13. Roadmapping Email Templates (11 email templates!)
  14. Quick Guide: Roadmapping Sales Page example
  15. Pipedrive CRM 35-Day ‘Professional’ Trial (a $60 value!)

[Video Interview] Roadmapping Offers with Kurt Elster of Ethercycle

You’ll love this 50-minute video interview with Kurt Elster of Ethercycle.

In this interview, we dive into how Ethercycle uses roadmapping offerings as one of their core service offerings.

Watch the video interview — or read the included (human generated) transcript.

Roadmapping Overview Webinar and Q&A with Kai Davis

This is a 50-minute recording of a webinar and Q&A that Kai Davis (author of Quick Start Roadmapping) gave.

The Webinar and Q&A offer a detailed overview of the entire roadmapping process and answers to common questions.

Watch the video interview — or read the included (human generated) transcript.

Start selling roadmaps

Imagine this for your 2023:

  • Eliminating the pains of proposal writing
  • Building a moat that keeps the tire-kickers out
  • Positioning yourself as a strategic consultant (more than ‘just a pair of hands’)

Does that sound like the direction you want to move in? If it does, then Quick Start Roadmapping is what you’ve looking for.

With your purchase, you’ll receive everything you need to get started with roadmapping, including the 14-Item Roadmapping Resource Library.


One-time payment

If your investment today helps you land one additional $500 project this year, that’s $500 of income you wouldn’t have had otherwise.

Now imagine if over the next 3-5 years you close one additional $2,000 project each year using the templates and techniques included with this product. That’s an additional ~$10,000 of income you wouldn’t have had otherwise from clients you already know that you like working with. That’s a pretty good return on a $150 investment.

What do your customers say?

"Quick Start Roadmapping helped improve my process to understand what clients really wanted"

Over time I had come across a number of your blog posts and a few podcast episodes. If I did not get those resources I would have never known about your Quick Start Roadmapping resource. The timing was also helpful, as I had a variety of complex projects to plan out and wanted to know about roadmapping.

The book was a fun read, and the outlines, questions, and examples in the book helped improve my methods for working with clients. Overall, roadmapping projects have provided to be an option for dealing with clients who want to meet but are not serious about a project or don't fully know what they want or need.

The fact that you had a "quick start" document, the questions, and the working session outlines gave me a quick solution I could start using the next day when I had to meet with a client. Then after taking the time to absorb the book, I was able to further refine and improve methods for understanding client needs.

The quick start documents, the mistakes to avoid document, and the "15-minute guide to 'why' conversations" were all excellent bonuses. Having the working session and other meeting outlines helps provide a scaffold to follow and adapt as needed.

Thank you for making the roadmapping book and resources!

Brian, B2 Technologies

Questions, Frequently Asked

“What’s unique about Quick Start Roadmapping?”

With Quick Start Roadmapping, you’ll get my personal collection of tools, templates, guidance, and instruction that will help you get started with roadmapping.

Quick Start Roadmapping focuses on giving you the ’80/20’ essentials and information you need to sell, market, and deliver roadmapping projects to your clients.

You’ll get documentation, instruction, resources, templates, and examples you need to start selling roadmaps in the coming weeks.

“Is roadmapping effective? Does it work 100% of the time?”

Nothing works 100% of the time. That said, offering project roadmaps as a paid service offering is an incredibly effective way for your business to:

  • Eliminate bad-fit clients earlier in your sales process
  • Add a new, profitable, strategy-focused engagement to your offerings
  • Develop a rapport and build a relationship with each new client by starting with a small initial project

With your purchase, you’ll receive everything I could think of to help you succeed on your journey. You’ll still need to do the work.

“Is roadmapping the right first step for every project?”

No. Roadmapping is great as a way to have a standard process for taking a squishy client problem and defining a plan to approach solving it.

Roadmapping doesn’t make sense when the solution is a turn-key service you already know the client needs.

Think of roadmapping as a diagnostic-esq service. You’re taking the client’s problem, running some tests, and figuring out what they need. If you already know what they need, just sell them that instead of the roadmap.

“Can I use this as my project discovery process?”

Yes, absolutely! You can take the discovery process I outline in Quick Start Roadmapping and use it as your discovery process for new clients and new projects. You don’t even have to charge for it as a separate project, you can bake it into your overall process.

Many of my customers have taken the included questionnaires, meeting agendas, and resources and baked them into their projects as their discovery process or used them as the starting point for their internal SOPs and resources.

Start selling roadmaps

Imagine this for your 2023:

  • Eliminating the pains of proposal writing
  • Building a moat that keeps the tire-kickers out
  • Positioning yourself as a strategic consultant (more than ‘just a pair of hands’)

Does that sound like the direction you want to move in? If it does, then Quick Start Roadmapping is what you’ve looking for.

With your purchase, you’ll receive everything you need to get started with roadmapping, including the 14-Item Roadmapping Resource Library.


One-time payment

You’re protected by my
‘smile on your face’ guarantee 😺

When you order, your purchase is protected. Above everything else, I want you to be happy and smiling. If you’re dissatisfied for any reason or if there’s anything I can do to improve your experience, you can always email me at kai@kaidavis.com.

If you run into a challenge with the material, have a question, can’t find something, or need a better explanation, just email me. I’ll do whatever I can to make sure you’re happy.

However, since Quick Start Roadmapping is a digital product with templates, resources, and downloadables that you receive instant access to, purchases are non-refundable.