This article is part of a larger series on Sales Management.
Estimate proposal templates let you quickly and consistently detail pricing information for your leads or prospective customers. Templates ensure all product or service options are clearly outlined in your proposal, which builds trust and can be the determining factor on whether or not someone chooses to work with your business. Here are seven free estimate templates you can use to precisely lay out the costs of your services, as well as best practices for writing estimates.
1. Freelance Contractor Estimate Template
Independent contractors and freelancers doing retainer work or project-based services—this free estimate template is for you. Much of the work will be either one specific deliverable, such as a website design, ongoing deliverables (like writing weekly articles for a blog), or a combination of both (such as producing a video for a company and social media management).
Freelancers typically need a simple way to explain how their pricing works and what quantity they expect. For example, a freelance graphic designer might work hourly for $60 per hour and indicate they expect the design project to be about 15 hours—estimating $900 total. Alternatively, a freelance copywriter might price their work per word or per writing project, which should be itemized on the estimate based on the client’s needs.
2. Contractor Project Estimate Proposal Template
General contractors, builders, and other trade businesses such as plumbers and electricians are project-heavy and need a combination of labor and materials to satisfy a work deliverable. So, their project template for estimates must have sections for the costs of all the materials purchased and estimated labor hours. When using this contractor estimate template, send references and sample photos of the work you’ve done to turn it into a full proposal.
Pro tip: Follow our step-by-step guide on how to write a business proposal for more detailed information on creating business proposals. This guide also comes with free templates, examples, and tips on writing proposals.
3. Products & Services Estimation Template
This estimate proposal template is ideal for businesses that sell units of a specific physical product, such as T-shirts, food, office supplies, and cars, to individuals or wholesale to other businesses. It’s also useful for software businesses selling licenses or subscriptions to a software application and manufacturers producing and distributing a product.
While simple inventory estimates only account for the number of units, more complex jobs might need supplemental services to go with it. These could include installation, delivery, onboarding, or training, and be shown in the total cost on the estimate. For example, if a business subscribes to a software subscription, the vendor could offer an optional service for user training for an additional service charge.
4. Financial Product Estimate Form
Often, businesses selling financial products, such as insurance agencies, mortgage brokers, or financial advisers, provide multiple options for a client to choose from. As part of presenting an estimate, aim to make an apples-to-apples comparison that lets them see the total costs and benefits of each. For this template, instead of showing a total cost, focus exclusively on a comparative analysis.
You can use this when presenting different life insurance, health insurance, property and liability insurance, mortgage products, or investment product and fund options. To get the most out of this free estimate template, include all information that will impact a comparative decision. This will allow the clients to look beyond the costs and financial benefits. You can include deductibles, down payments, coverage exclusions, dividends, supplemental benefits and coverage, etc.
5. Repair Estimation Template
While similar to the contractor project template, the repair estimate proposal is used for services involving maintaining, fixing, or repairing something not working properly. This is in contrast to building, installing, or renovating something from scratch. Mechanics, plumbers, electricians, cable companies, and HVAC specialists benefit from this template.
As shown in the free estimate template, explain all the components that go into the total cost of the job. While it will mostly be labor costs set at an hourly or fixed rate, the service provider may also need a certain part or tool to complete the job, which should be explained in the estimate. This is especially common in auto maintenance shops, for instance, where a car owner needs both the skills of a mechanic and a piece of equipment specific to their car model.
6. Consultative Services Estimate Form
Any time another business is outsourcing a function or department in their company, the service provider is considered a consultant. This is prevalent in marketing, sales management, human resources, high-level business strategy, IT management, and cybersecurity.
Consultants often work hourly either on an ongoing basis or for a set period to roll out a new initiative, such as helping a firm adopt a CRM system. In addition to advising and assisting these business departments, a consultant can also act as a reseller for software products, helping the business become more effective regarding the function they’re consulting on.
For example, cybersecurity consulting businesses offer roadmaps to get their clients from one security posture to another and partner with dozens of security software vendors to help along the way. That said, the hourly rates, estimated hours, and any additional products should be included in the estimate.
7. Professional Services Estimate Contract Template
Professional service businesses typically require licenses, certifications, or higher education to operate. Lawyers, accountants, architects, and certain engineers who need diligence and a high degree of competence in their services fall into this category. This template considers hourly rates or costs per deliverable, similar to how these services are usually priced.
Best Practices for Writing an Estimate
Using a template to present cost estimates should be complemented with other essential practices to get the most out of them and close more sales deals. Additionally, your sales plan should acknowledge how the process of sending a price estimate is handled, as well as tools you can use along the way. Here are some tips to follow when using these free estimate templates:
While CRM software is known for sorting lead data and monitoring your sales pipeline, it’s also an excellent tool for storing templates. By keeping your estimate proposal template in your CRM platform, you can easily customize it with your prospect’s information and store it in their profile from one system.
Most CRM solutions have the ability to store files and documents. Pipedrive has a Smart Docs feature allowing users to create a quote or estimate invoice template directly from the deal module. From there, you can automatically insert a lead’s information into the estimate and add the pricing information. Any template you design can be added to the Smart Docs drive for all team members to access.
Make sure there is clarity as to what needs to be done next, either in the email you send or directly on the estimate, to follow through with the products or services purchased. If you include it on your sales estimate, you can add print below the total costs indicating something like:
For talking about the next steps in an email message, start with some contextual information, acknowledge the proposal is attached, then go into your next steps regarding what is required by the client or your business to finalize the purchase. Below is an email template you can use with your estimate:
It’s essential for reputational and financial reasons to adequately consider all factors in the pricing and include them in the estimate. Regarding your reputation, it would look unprofessional to the lead if you sent a proposal with the total costs without including a line item mentioning the possibility of an updated proposal later.
The lead may have seen the original pricing and set their expectations high, only to be disappointed later with the new pricing. When evaluating your costs, it’s better to overestimate than lowball. For certain work, anticipate delays or changes to the scope of work.
For example, it’s common in construction to have supply chain issues and experience late deliveries of materials and equipment. That needs to be considered in the estimate since you might be incurring labor costs during that time for your employees and need to make sure that expectation is understood by the client.
While these templates are great for lines describing costs associated with doing work for someone or providing services, don’t just send them the way they are. Include a professional design on the documents by adding color, your logo, and formatting the tables to look aesthetically pleasing.
Platforms like Canva offer cost-friendly, easy-to-use solutions for designing sales materials, proposals, and other marketing assets. With hundreds of premade designs, you can easily incorporate your logo and color schemes into your template for an estimate to give it an extra touch of professionalism.
A sales estimate lays out all of the costs to the client for the scope of work, including labor costs, materials, deliverable fees, hourly rates, and the price of any products or software that will be used. By using these estimate templates designed specifically for certain types of businesses and following our best practices, you can input information relevant to your work, keep your estimates organized, make them look professional, and close more deals.