When a client takes your proposal, your great ideas, and shops them around for a better price that hurts. Certainly it hurts in the pocketbook because you were counting on that income. Absolutely, it hurts your pride and brings up confusing thoughts like I’m good enough to steal from but not to hire?? It stinks to be shopped, but it’s commonplace now.
Take my friend, Alma, for example. She’s a terrific virtual assistant who specializes in helping speakers and authors create promotional videos.
Alma works hard on proposals. There are a lot of other online business specialist around the Net. She wants to be seen as top-notch, someone who is very knowledgeable willing to go the extra mile for her clients. Her proposals actually read like a mini how-to book to me. They are chock-full of information.
Clients love her, her enthusiasm, and her useful strategies, but the price, uh, not so much. She’s been rejected on her last 5 proposals. Doing follow up, Alma learned that 3 of those potential clients did the work, essentially as she outlined, with someone cheaper.
You’ve been in this difficult situation before, right? What do you do to offer your best while protecting yourself and your business?
Here are my tips for writing your next proposal that end your days of being shopped forever.
Pare it down.
Give the what and why and the great results your client will receive by working with you. Don’t include every detail. Give away one stellar idea and let them know there’s more where that came from. You should be able to do it in under 60 minutes.
Play up your pizazz!
Mention the intangible stuff like how fun/cool/easy it is to work with you. Resourcefulness, patience, clear-headed thinking or whatever your unique twist is are all valuable traits that can’t necessarily be replaced when you spend less or go with the plain vanilla guy. (it’s the know and like thing again)
Pave the way with expectations.
I consider a proposal to be the written extension of a conversation with my client. So, in that conversation where we decide to potentially work together, I’m honest that I’ve had clients shop my proposals in the past, that I’m not expecting them to do it, but that here’s what happens if you do. It’s not threatening, just an explanation. Most people, including clients, don’t think far enough along to realize how their behaviors will impact you.
Simply telling your client you will be hurt by them is often enough to stop them from misbehaving. Neuroscience suggests that we each have a good impression of ourselves as honest, trust-worthy and we don’t like to contradict that. Making clients aware of the line helps them to not cross it.
Ready to win that next proposal? Good- just remember to share the results you help achieve, share your personality and share your expectations for a great working relationship.
Another tip that takes some cahones. Ask your clients for feedback on why they didn’t accept your proposal. You can make an observation and simply ask. An example:
I haven’t heard back and I think that means you’ve chosen a different provider. I care about improving, so would you help me? What could I have done differently to win your business?
You can do this with a light touch and upbeat attitude, I’m sure, Ivette. It’s no so much about proving your worth but rather figuring out where your worth and their needs could have met better.