Is your business the type that requires written proposals to prospects? If so, before you write the first word, you better ask a lot of questions.
First you need to make sure you’re talking to the decision maker and that they have the money to afford your product or service. Then you need to decide, based on the answers to your questions, what you will propose.
I recently had a discussion with a small business owner who was very excited at the prospect of submitting his first proposal to a prospective client. The work was for some copyediting, but he wasn’t sure if it was for the web or a print publication. He planned to spend the whole weekend working on the proposal for this prospective client.
I asked him how he knew what to propose when he didn’t know the prospect’s needs. He said, “Well, we haven’t actually talked yet, this guy just left me a voice mail.” He wanted to be prepared. Ack.
He was going to waste his whole weekend:
- Preparing a detailed proposal
- Guessing what the customer might want
- Dreaming what the customer could afford
I gave him my advice, but he was not to be deterred. He’ll learn — unfortunately– the hard way.
Sometimes there’s no way around a written proposal. Just make sure you provide good suggestions with limited effort. And don’t forget to ask — before you propose.
You’re still going to make mistakes. Remember this post? How about you?