To get work you need to send out estimates. Good ones should take a fair bit of time to get right.

How do you structure your estimates though?

How do you make them something that ‘sells’ the clients on your services?

How do you make sure that you’ve covered the real needs of the clients, beyond the technical requirements.

Three questions to a winning estimate

In To Sell is Human, Daniel Pink gives us 3 questions to ask ourselves as we construct out ‘pitch’.

  1. What do you want them to know?
  2. What do you want them to feel?
  3. What do you want them to do?

Generic answers are:

  1. That I can do the job.
  2. Confident in my abilities.
  3. Use my services.

Stop there if you want, but I wouldn’t recommend it. For a recent client I came up with these 3 answers before I wrote my estimate.

  1. I want $client_name to know that I can help them build an effective platform for their membership site so they can gain more members and sell their products/services effectively.
  2. I want $client_name to feel that I’m a partner in their business and that I’m not just ‘selling’ them. They should feel that I have added value to their business by simply providing an estimate for my services.
  3. I want them to enter in to partnership with and make more money with less work.

How about taking it a step further and removing yourself from the question. Putting the needs of your client first will help you write more effective estimates as you take on their perspective and empathize with it.

  1. $client_name should know that whomever they choose has the best interests at heart and will help further their business.
  2. $client_name should feel that their service provider is a partner in their business.
  3. $client_name should purchase the services of the freelancer/agency that serves them best.

Before each estimate

Before each estimate make sure you ask yourself these 3 questions. Having answers specific to each client will help you take their point of view.

Taking their point of view is going to help you write more effective estimates since you’ll think about their objections and write your estimate in a way that addresses them out of the gate.

photo credit: riddlexxii cc