Why I don't charge for
As we sprint along in our hamster cages
in the relentless pursuit of new business, most of us face the gnawing
issue of writing proposals. Let's face it, proposals are a bitch. They
take time and effort. I mean, the guy has called you up to help, why doesn't
he just hire you and be done with it?
Ah, would that it were so. Unfortunately,
proposals are a way of life. They're here to stay, so you might as well
get used to it. The fact is that most people really don't need proposals
to make their purchasing decision. They need it -- in most cases -- to
cover their ass when presenting their purchase decision to their bosses.
Regardless, proposals are a pain in the
neck, but they have to be done. The problem is that proposals take work.
Lots of work. So much work, in fact, that some people often charge for
them, figuring that if they don't get the business, they'll at least get
some cash. Or that if the prospect rips off their ideas, at least they'll
get some cash. Others, charge for the proposal and then, if they get the
business, apply that fee to the overall cost of the project.
I don't charge for proposals. And I don't
get ripped off by people looking for free advice, either. The reason is
simple, although it took me a long time to figure it out. So in the interest
of saving people a few years of heartache, here's what I do:
When someone requests a proposal, I present
them with three parts:
1. I acknowledge the issues they need
2. I explain how I can help, often by citing clients with similar issues.
3. I outline how I work and how I charge.
What I DON'T do is solve their problems
for them in the proposal. That's where most consultants and vendors get
ripped off. Although it can be hard to do, because all of us want to show
how good of a job we do, avoid the temptation of recommending the solution
in your proposal. Remember, these prospects have contacted you for a reason.
They need help and they need you. Your experience and wisdom is what they're
paying for. If you give it away in an effort to win the business, you
will likely never win the business.
One of the hardest things to do is to
walk away from a business lead. Especially when the rent is overdue. But
bad business is just that: bad. Stick with people who are willing to pay
for your time and effort.
Finally, if you present your proposals
as I have outlined, you'll find that you don't have to rewrite every proposal
for every prospect. Customize, yes. The result is that you get you proposals
out faster and more efficiently, protecting your most valuable asset --
your work product.