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Getting a Project Started: From 'Inbound' to 'In the Works'

by Sean Treacy | Apr 20, 2016 | [[ readEstimate ]] min read

"So, what’s next?" is one of the most commonly asked questions at the end of promising sales meetings. It's encouraging to hear as it generally means the prospect is interested enough to take the next step.

As a project manager, if I hear "so, what's next" during a project, I worry that I have not been clear enough or sufficiently reminded the team what the next step or deliverable is. The same should be true for the sales process, right?

Clearly explaining each step of the process from the onset will not only avoid confusion or uncertainty, but will also help set the tone for the rest of the sales process, and hopefully the whole project.

The sales process can vary drastically from agency to agency, but here is what seems to work best for us, and is therefore what we outline to new prospects:

  1. Initial call

    Generally a brief email starts things off, in the form of an inbound mail from the website contact form or a referral from a past client or friend. When initial contact has been made we typically set up a call to learn more about the project scope, budget, and timeline.

    If the project is a fit on those criteria and the prospect is still interested, we invite them in to meet the team and discuss the project scope in more detail.

  2. Project scope whiteboard session

    This step has a huge impact on the project itself (if it comes to that), and allows us to tailor our proposal accurately, as opposed to picking a quote out of the sky (which happens more often than you might believe!)

    At the whiteboard session, the team gets an in-depth understanding of the project by walking through various user flows and bulleting out what is needed at each stage. This session often bubbles up new ideas, and allows us to determine what is a "must have" versus a "nice to have." Spending this time together gives us a much better understanding of the project, and allows everyone to see if there is an effective dynamic between the entire team.

    Off the back of this meeting, the designer and developer can estimate their hours for the project and hand it over to the Project Manager to draft a proposal.

  3. Proposal and schedule

    With the quotes to hand, a proposal is drafted which outlines the exact features and functionality that were discussed at the project scope whiteboard session, and outlines each phase's tasks and deliverables.

    At this stage, we generally send over a proposed schedule to give the prospect a sense of timing and a possible launch date.

  4. Proposal review

    It's worthwhile to walk through the proposal together; follow up on the project scope session, answer any questions the prospect has and discuss new ideas which may have come to light since.

    Once edits are made, the proposal is sent out again and it's decision time.  

  5. Project start

    If a prospect decides to move forward with us, we draft the contracts (Statement of Work and Master Service Agreement), send over an updated schedule, and get stuck into the user experience stage.

If you are thinking about talking to agencies or studios about your web application, here is a worksheet which might be helpful to gather your thoughts and prepare for those first couple of conversations: