Creating the perfect VA proposal in Dubsado.
Updated: Apr 10
One day, ladies, I will write a blog post about Dubsado that isn't the length of War and Peace. Sadly for you, this is not that day. It is, on the other hand packed FULL of value. Get a brew, settle down and get ready to learn how to create a kickass proposal in Dubsado.
If you're struggling with how to set up your Dubsado forms - both for the content and how they will look in Dubsado - first of all, read this blog. Then, if you would like a set of done-for-you forms, head to my special set of VA Dusbsado forms. They include a lead capture, a proposal, a welcome pack AND a bonus form - my weekly update. They are the EXACT forms I've been using in my VA Biz for the last 12 months and they jolly well work.
Ok, so you’ve had a lovely discovery call, and you and the client have really clicked. You’ve talked yourself up, you’ve sounded enthusiastic (hopefully you actually are enthusiastic!) and it’s pretty much in the bag.
Now it’s time to seal the deal, tie it up with a ribbon and reel them in (so…many…metaphors…😐).
Back in the good old days (about a year ago)
When I first started out, this meant sitting for ages in front of a word document trying to think up a clever way to write it all out. It took ages, it looked…well, boring. What's worse, often I didn’t send it out for at least 24hrs after the call, by which time a lot of the impetus had gone – I reckon I lost about 40% of my leads that way – it gave people the time to second guess themselves.
With Dubsado, my proposal is sent out no more than half an hour after the call, and that’s if I’ve stopped to have a brew and gaze lovingly into the fridge for 10 minutes.
My take-up rate is close to 100%. I’ve had 7 discovery calls so far this year and I signed 6 of them on the same day as the call. Stats don’t lie, y’all. (Unless the U.K Government is…well, let's not go down that black hole.)
Creating a proposal in Dubsado
So, how do you create the perfect Dubsado proposal? I’m not going to lie, I am no design genius. My artistic sensibilities peaked at about age 4, so I’m not going to tell you how to lay it out because I’m willing to bet that yours will look much nicer than mine, but I will tell you how I, (a design numpty and general heathen when it comes to ‘making stuff look pretty’) make my proposals look good enough that people take me up on them.
Katies Top Tips for making a nice proposal in Dubsado.
1. Remember that the template is just that – a template.
Yep – once you pull it into the project, the proposal becomes a copy and you can personalise it however you want. Did I begin my Dubsado career creating a new template for each individual client? I couldn't POSSIBLY say *shifty eyes*.
2. Make judicious use of smart fields.
Yep – Dubsado has smart fields, so you can save time entering pesky details like names etc by using them. This kinda-sorta links to the lead capture form too because whatever details you have will likely have come from that form. Hence my proposal doesn’t use any more complicated smart field than the client’s name, because I’m unlikely to have much more at that stage.
That said, you can be a Sneaky McSneakerson and, once the discovery call is finished, pop into their contact details in Dubs and fill out some other smart fields you may have found out (like the business name) so they can be used. Business name is quite handy, actually, for when you send them the contract (don’t worry, that’s a WHOLE other blog).
3. Think carefully about what you want to include and where you want it to be.
I’ll divulge what I do – it’s not a magic recipe, but it works for me so it’s probably a good starting point!
Introduction. This is the same every time, so I don’t generally edit it for each new proposal. It’s pretty much a ‘thanks for the call, I enjoyed talking to you, your business sounds super awesome, please like me’ kind of a grateful spiel. I try to keep it short and genuine – people can pick up bullshitty bullshit a mile off and, frankly, gushing isn’t my style (have you noticed?)
Personalised paragraph. On my Dubsado template I leave a space next, and that is for my personalised paragraph. It begins with a sentence that shows I know who they are and what their business is – because otherwise I often feel that templates can end up looking really impersonal, and as VAs that ain’t us dude. We’re a wing woman/man/person. We’re the one they call when shiz goes down. We’re a partner, a shoulder to cry on and a business bestie (I can’t believe I just used that phrase but it just trips off the tongue so nicely!) If you don’t at least know what their business is, how can they expect all this stuff from you?
Extra-personalised paragraph. I then move on to the real body of the paragraph (remember, this is just a blank space on the template – I fill this in after the discovery call for each lead, so it’s super-personalised). This is where I talk about what I can do for them. It usually begins with something like ‘During our call we discussed your needs and how I can help. We talked about me [doing such and such for you, this, that and the other. I can also do that and that if you felt it would help!]’ I finish off with something similar to ‘I think that in order to do this we’ll need to have [however many hours – whatever package you discussed on the call – it could be ad hoc, it could be 20 hours a month, whatever. If you didn’t discuss it on the call – well, you should have otherwise how do they know if they can afford you?!]’.
The package. In Dubsado you can set up packages to suit. I have an ad hoc package, and then a 5-, 10- and 20-hour package also. Now, this is the bit where you have to do what suits you. My packages have names, so I have images in the template to suit the package name. Because of this, I have 4 separate proposals with imagery pertaining to that specific package. It’s just faster that way. You could do that or, if you were feeling more intelligent than me you could decide not to name your packages and just insert a space for a package alongside some other generic image into the template.
Once you’ve pulled the template into a client project, you can simply edit the form and add the proposal that fits.
I don’t put more than one package on my proposal, because I’ve always discussed with the client how many hours they need/can afford, so it’s senseless. I am, however, considering doing little service add-ons. Like maybe add an hour of inbox maintenance per week for a set price or a Gmail power hour session. I haven’t thought it out properly yet but it’s always nice to upsell extra bits if you can.
A ‘what happens next’ bit. I do this by adding a column section with 3 sections. Into this, I add the 3 next steps. It looks lovely with some images, and 3 is a bit of a magic number where people are concerned (it's why the number pops up so much in literature and marketing in general). My 3 steps are: 1 – Sign the contract, 2 – Pay the invoice and 3 – complete the GDPR agreement. Bosh.
(Optional) A testimonial. It’s always nice to remind people that other nice people also feel that you are awesome. Don't go mad though - they've met you so they already know you're awesome.
Outro. Again, this doesn’t ever change. In fact – mine is an image I made in Canva which thanks them for their time and says how I am looking forward to working with them. It acts as a footer and finishes off the document nicely.
So, yeah, that’s how my proposal is structured, and it works for me. Because it’s already done and dusted apart from the personalised paragraph at the top (I might also adjust the next steps depending on the client and what we’ve discussed) I’m usually able to send it out within 10 minutes of the end of the call (no time for a brew if I’m that fast though).
4. Remember, you can also attach the contract and the invoice to the proposal.
This is another one of those WHOLE other blogs, but it is incredibly effective. Don’t worry too much about it if you’re just setting up, but do remember that it’s a possibility. VAs work with clients who are short on time, so if you can save them some by letting them sign the contract and pay the invoice all at once then why wouldn’t you?
(Note – I don’t do the invoice through Dubs for UK clients because a) I like all the invoices in FreeAgent so when the dreaded taxy taxy time comes round I’m all organised and b) people always end up paying via PayPal and it boils my piss to have transaction fees taken off me when it isn’t strictly necessary.)
5. Short on proposal design inspiration? Dubsado has you covered.
I put this in a vid, because explaining it would have taken another half a page and really – who has time to read yet more Katie essays? This is an AMAZING tip though – I didn’t work it out for the LONGEST time.
6. EXTRA CREDIT.
If you are a bit tech happy and don’t feel terrified at the prospect of CSS, Dubsado allows you to fiddle even further with their forms. There are many wild and wonderful things you can do including sliders and all sorts, but just a very basic block will bring in custom fonts that you might want to use which is very helpful if you’ve got brand fonts. Colin Tierney at DubIns is the master of this and I got the basic 'font sucky-inny code' for free from him (as you can tell, I’m a bit of a CSS master). He also has a kick-ass FB group which you should join.
You made it! It's the end!
So that’s it, my top tips for making a mint proposal. Use them or don’t, but hopefully you are now slightly more aware of how a Dubsado proposal can up your game and get you looking slick.
For more tips, tricks and general Dubsado loving, please join my delightful FaceBook group where I am glad to offer any help I can with as little swearing as possible (i.e. a bit of swearing).
If you have read this blog and thought ‘oh bloody hell I can’t be chewed doing all that – why can’t someone do it for me?’ well guess what chuckles? That’s exactly what I do. I ONLY offer Dubsado setups to VAs because I know the industry inside and out and can often help to improve on your workflows and forms as well as just creating them. Also, because the workflows *tend* to be similar, I can do them more quickly – and I pass that saving on to you, dude!