Wednesday, February 23

155 words for $8500 or the power of friends 

I just sent a proposal by email (not in a Word document, mind you but just a plain text email) to a friend of mine who asked for some work. The total value of the project: $8500. My time on the proposal: about 5 minutes of typing. Proposal length: 155 words.

Lesson 1: Listen, listen, listen. We had a 20 minute phone conversation in which I maybe said 50 words. The rest was listening to what she needed, why she needed it, when, how, and why.

Lesson 2: Have friends that you work with (not 'clients,' not 'prospects,' not 'leads') and that know you, like you, and see you often in professional circles. She had a need, and I was in the right place at the right time. And I also happened to be speaking to a professional group and my friend was in the audience when the idea popped into her head, "Hey, David would be great for this project!" Lesson 2a: SPEAK OFTEN!!!

Lesson 3: The proposal is only a confirmation of what was already discussed and agreed upon in some other medium - face to face meeting, phone call, etc. The proposal should NOT be the first time the recipient sees "what they get" nor should it be the first time they see the cost of the program. [Now, if you're smart, it WILL be the first time they see the EXACT cost of your services after you've agreed to a ballpark VALUE of the outcome - and if you're even smarter, you'll have options and choices for services at medium, high, and highest price points, too - but now we're getting into pricing v. value which is a separate blog entry!!]

Lesson 4: Be quick. Often, the first proposal in the door gets it. Wait a week... or even worse TWO... and the urgency has run cold, and you can pretty much bet that someone else ran off with your lunch while you were 'too busy' to crank out your standard 14-page proposal.

Lesson 5: Consultants often ask me if they should charge for proposals. The answer is no. And the full answer is don't waste hours on proposals - listen, write, close. Make it as short as you possibly can. Another proposal that was sent to the owner of a $25 million manufacturing company was a grand total of 3 pages long. Project value on that one: $35,000. So the rule of thumb here, at least according to me, is make your proposals about $10,000 per page. When you write a $100,000 proposal, sure... make it 10 pages. Knock yourself out. But it better be laden with VALUE and RESULTS and OUTPUTS (outcomes) and not methods and tools and inputs.

Happy proposing...

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