It’s exciting to meet with new clients and have the opportunity to bid on a project. There’s something about the energy a new client brings that sparks creativity in most freelancers. However, what do you do when you sit down (or stand up) at your desk to prepare the
quote and you realize you don’t have all the information you need to bring a realistic bid to the table?
It’s frustrating, certainly. It’s also more common than you might think and it happens to even the most experienced freelancers.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to get the information you need so that you can still get your bid in on time to be considered.
Start with What You Do Have
Before you start emailing the potential client, work on filling in the parts of your scope of work (SOW) that you do have.
As you complete the different sections, keep a running list on the side with information you need to obtain from the client before you can realistically quote for the job.
Remember, many times the client knows what they want the final product to look like, but they do not always tell you the detailed information you need to help gauge the time and resource you will need to devote to the project to get the outcome. This is when it is helpful to involve the client in the SOW process.
Contact the Client
Now that you have the scope of work filled out with the information you do have, it’s time to get the information you don’t have. When possible, schedule a call with the potential client. More often than not, clients can feel overwhelmed with an email that includes a list of complex questions they may not have even thought about yet.
Give it a personal touch and request a phone call. Tell the client you are invested in giving them an accurate quote and you would like to review a few items with them. Then, get on a call to discuss it further.
No matter how you contact the client, ensure you have a full list of scoping questions they need to answer. If they don’t know how to answer the questions, negotiate a rate where you can complete the scope on their behalf.
What to Include
Building a website is a complex process and while you know this, clients do not always realize it. Before you quote the project, make sure you have a comprehensive list of all of the page requirements and technical specifications the client wants. You don’t want to end up working with the client on the project only to realize they expected different add-ins for pages that will take more of your time than you originally priced out.
It’s all about the details when it comes to compiling an effective SOW. Get the client to take the time to give you the details you need.
You work hard for your clients, and you don’t want to lose money on projects by working with an unresponsive or unrealistic client. If you are struggling to get the information you need from a potential client, take time to do a gut-check and determine if this is a client that you would want to work with in the first place.
Be wary of clients who appear to be:
- Overly demanding
- Unclear about the project’s vision and unwilling to be led to a solution
If a client won’t pay for the scoping process or cannot provide a completed SOW themselves, it’s a red flag and can often mean it is time to walk away. In cases like this, you can end up saving money to bow out of the proposal and choose not to bid on the project at all.
The Bottom Line
You can’t estimate realistic costs for a project without a detailed scope of work. Your client should come to you with enough information to complete a detailed SOW, or they should pay you for your time to complete one on their behalf.