You Got Them Hooked: Now What?
Our focus in this segment is best practices for winning proposals and I'll tell you that what we're going to cover in three lessons in this segment is we're going to look first at what exactly is a proposal? Because some people have different definitions of a proposal in less than thirty four I'm going to go through the anatomy of a proposal what exactly should be in a basic proposal as well as some different types of proposals and then lesson thirty five is best practices for proposals which is another way of saying that is how to stay out of the black hold the black hole is when you send a proposal to someone and you never hear back from them ever again there are ways to stay out of this black hole this is one of the complaints I get from people all the time so lesson thirty three uh you got him hooked now what right that's what is a proposal? And I want to show first this image from shutter stock of a mirage because a proposal is sometimes a mirage it's this island it's this image o...
f paradise on the horizon it's a job it's a big job and you know it's out there and if you can on ly get to that mirage it could be yours some people think of proposes that way some people think of it as the lottery right if I could only guess the right number I will get the job but it's neither of those things those air all about magical thinking we're all about practical tactics here and so I want it help you understand what exactly is a proposal? What is a winning proposal and how you could do them for yourself and get the bigger job so you can command the fees you deserve? So a winning proposal is many different things the first thing it is is your argument for why you are the best fit for a particular project now this assumes that you are the best fit for a particular project and you should be because if you're not you should not be spending your time on a proposal okay, so in this proposal you are going to make the argument you're going to explain in many different ways why you are the best fit for the for the job that means that the proposal needs to be tailored to your prospect tailored to each project and that may seem obvious but the reality is that often people use the same kind of generic proposal over and over and over sometimes because they don't know what else to use sometimes because they don't know enough about the project so they're just going to put their generic proposal out there sometimes because they just don't know what else to do they've never seen anyone else's proposal but your proposal really does need to be tailored to the prospect to the project which takes time otherwise it may not be worth doing. It also should be ordered from your client's perspective. What does this mean? This means that often the generic proposals that I see from designers especially copywriters as well sometimes illustrators, sometimes photographers is really all about them. Write the proposal is here's me here's what I'm going to do here's what it's going to cost what's wrong with that? Well, it's actually not a winning proposal. The proposal needs to be ordered from your perspective. As I've been saying all along, none of this marketing stuff is about you, it's about your client it's, about your prospect it's about what they need and in that context what you could do for them. So the main mistake I see people making with their proposals is they put themselves their bio, their examples, et cetera at the beginning all of that stuff belongs at the end because that support why you are the best fit for the job, but first they want to hear what's in it for them. So that means that the information at the beginning should be here on I will go into detail about this but in general here's what we understand your challenge is and then here's what we proposed to do too solve the problem and here's why we are the best fit but if someone opens your documents and first what they see is about you even though they understand that that's important information it's not what's of most interest to them so you wantto put your proposal the information in it in an order that would be from their perspective what is most interested, interesting and relevant to them ah winning proposal is also more and more these days easy to read and perhaps even skim a ble if they don't read it, you would assume if people are asking for proposals that they're going to read them but the truth is they don't always so you want the information perhaps to be repeated, especially the essential information that you want to make sure they get to be repeated perhaps in the cover note perhaps in your email that goes along with the proposal perhaps in a couple different places in the proposal I would say in general, don't be afraid of repetition in fact, in general in your marketing don't be afraid of repetition. Oh, I already said that to them they probably didn't hear it right. It takes time for your message to get through so especially in your proposal you want to make sure that it's really easy to receive the information that you're conveying to them and that perhaps you say it in different ways in different places. And, again, this idea of skim a ble because they may not be reading the whole thing, so it should be written kind of like maybe a magazine would be written right headlines and subtitles and call out boxes and side quotes and all different things just to make it more, not necessarily entertaining. But again, easy to read and perhaps even more visual. Especially if you are a visual, creative professional. So I want to go over what I call the four simple I'm sorry, the four types of proposals because again, most people just have one proposal and they use it for everything, and it may not be appropriate. So the first type is your simple proposal. This sometimes is called an estimate, right? And I use these words differently. There's no standard definition, actually for any of this. So I'll define the words as I go along. Ah, proposal is very similar to an estimate. And the simple proposal especially, is the same thing as an estimate from my perspective. So what does that mean? It's a one page agreement or an email. It could be sent just as a separate email message. It's generally for ongoing clients, so you're not necessarily making any argument here because thes people already know who you are no what you bring to the table you've worked with them before you just need an estimate or something that outlines the details of a particular project and that's going to be in a one pager and also for simple projects all right now by the way I do have lots of examples of proposals that I sell in my online store and I'll be talking a little bit about what you can get there but just know that you probably haven't seen too many examples of other people's proposals and that's also why it's hard to know how to do a winning proposal so there is an example of a simple proposal in the designers proposal bundle actually the second type of proposal is the small proposal right not to be confused with the simple proposal the small proposal is the next level up it's two to three pages it's not an email message it's usually a document could be written uh could be a pdf document it could be a printed document it could be both and it is however for prospects who are already sold you only need a couple pages toe outline essentially here's what we discussed and here's the information that it's based on could be just price timeframe details of what is going to be done and here's what we agreed to do you agree and you want to get their feedback on that, make sure that they approve and and it has all the details that you agreed to so that's the small one now, here are the types of proposals that start to get a little bit more complex and that's where you need to put more time and effort into it. So the medium size proposal is generally three to ten pages it's for new prospects generally, these are people who don't know you, they've just emailed or they've just called, and so perhaps you've had a conversation, but they don't know enough about you, and this is where you really do start to need tto make the argument for why you are the best fit, and also it could be used with prospects and clients who already know you. But the decision makers don't know you, and they will be selling you up the chain, as they say, so the information has to be there. You can't think, oh, well, they already know that about me, so I'm not going to put it in my proposal don't ever make those assumptions always air on the side of yes, I'm going to add it to the proposal so that they, uh, can use the information in the best way that they possibly can, and finally the fourth type of proposal is the large proposal this is ten plus pages could be twenty pages could be thirty pages. It really depends on the size of the project, and generally this one is for major projects and or ideal clients that you really want to work with, because, again, you're going to put a lot of effort and you're going to put a lot of time and you're going to put a lot of examples in and some people might be thinking, well, what exactly meant? I'm going to fill forty pages with sounds like a lot? It could be a lot, but ah lot of people put half the proposal is relevant samples that you have customized for that prospect because again, you're trying to make the argument that you are the best fit for the project, and usually that involves explaining that you done this for their competition or you've done this for other companies, just like theirs and that's why you know what you're doing? And here are the examples. All right, now what a proposal is not just to get rid of any confusion, a proposal is not your proxy, it is not. It doesn't go there in your place, it doesn't replace anything, and I think a lot of people and probably the same people who say I want my work to speak for itself use the proposal as a proxy for making this argument. Yes, it needs to make the argument, but it is not the only thing and you can't put that burden on the proposal. You really have to have the conversation with someone. I'm going to talk a little bit in a few minutes about presenting the proposal, but don't think about the proposal as your proxy, so you bring yourself into it and then you present it so that you can make the strongest argument possible. It's also not a contract, a lot of people put their contract terms and a place to sign in the proposal. I personally think this is a mistake, some requests for proposal, I require that you do it that way so that there is an exception that can be made in those types of situations. But in general you keep your contract separate from your proposal for a couple different reasons. One is that I think it's presumptuous to put the contract language in there and say, if you want to work with us, all you have to do is sign here. No, there should be more of a process, you don't want to say automatically, this is the next step you're going to explain to them what the next step is, but not put that contract in there plus it gives you another excuse or opportunity to go through your process and say okay now we've done this this is the proposal now we're going to take it more seriously to the next step here is the contract that also positions you as someone who is much more professional okay so don't try to have that one document doing everything and finally especially important your proposal is not the first time the prospect sees the numbers the money and this can be very tricky and I think this is where ah lot of anxiety is created right because if you have had the conversation about pricing or me maybe you didn't gauge the budget initially then you start working on the proposal and maybe you didn't get all your questions answered but you really want the project so you're still doing the proposal but you come up with these numbers and you're not sure if they're the right numbers right this is where the um we have the mirage in front of us and if only I could guess the right number when I'm playing the lottery then I'm going to get the job one way to avoid that is essentially to have the proposal not be the first time your prospects sees that the money and so what you have to do there now we're back to the money conversation where maybe you have floated some numbers and then maybe you have said all right well if with the example that I used in session too your budget is around five thousand dollars then we're going to put together a proposal that is in the range of five thousand maybe between five and ten how does that sit with you right and then you you say that to them and they say oh ok so then you know okay those numbers are okay and that's what? I'm going to put in more specifics in my proposal and then you can do the proposal with so much less dress all right? So yes, because people are saying the larger proposals they recognized do take an awful lot of time and tory king is asking how much time do you recommend you a person should spend on putting together a proposal proposal is sapping all of your time maybe that's not the best way to approach it right? So uh it depends on the size and it depends on how much you want it but the large one could take two or three days it could take a week so it really has to be a project that is going to be of high value. And often the way I see this is that the larger proposals are for the projects where you're going to charge more so it's worth the time and the reason it's a much bigger document is because even if they don't read it all they see that it's heavy right literally it is a document that you have put a lot of time and effort into and I think it makes the impression whether they read it or not do we have other questions because another view is asking that they always include an estimated number of hours in proposals but they're saying should they leave that out the number of hours they will estimate for them to take it because then they could be held to that later yeah I mean it depends what kind of service we're talking about here s so I don't want to make a blanket statement but in general the amount of time that you take to do something should not be all that relevant to your client really they want a number so that they can be budgeting and decide is this good for them or is this not good for them? Maybe the number of estimated ours is something that you, uh makes part of your negotiation with them but I would whenever possible keep it out because that really isn't any of their business the girl is asking if you do separate the contract proposal are on their separate things there will be stuff in your contract as she called it that what wasn't in your proposal giving the client perhaps time to pause maybe changed their minds I mean anything could do that right? They could change their minds with anything I think that you know when you get to that part in the process if there are questions then you make the points and you answer the questions but you know and if they're there is stuff in your contract that they need to know in order to make the decision than maybe those details need to go in terms and conditions but generally that is not as important and can be negotiated and should be negotiated as part of the contract any questions that we have from our studio audience it's about how like the three tiered structure of pricing and a proposal kind of match up so you know are you leaning when you're are you leaning towards the higher end of that structure of you know, the high in with the proposal or what? Well, uh the example that we have from colleen gratz er actually which is in the workbook is a page from a proposal, right? So she was doing a proposal to redesign the magazine and they asked her for one specific thing can you redesign the magazine and she came up with fleury options for them so it's a perfect situation for you any type of proposal actually probably the large one and the medium one more than anything but it does actually help to talk about what it is that you do and what value you bring and how much you know so it can be very effective and enough with the perfect reason why your contract has to be separate because there are choices in the proposal so the contract then only lists what they chose and really hones in on exactly the chapel was saying that they often charge for a proposal and I know specifically and this is also being referenced in the media buying industry people always charged proposal but then they apply that cost to like it was a credit if they win the business if they don't it's cost what do you feel about that that's a good point okay, so there are certain types of projects for which that is perfectly appropriate and actually could be used as a marketing tool so the idea is that if for example you are being contracted to do a website and this comes up a lot in the interactive world and the client is clueless and doesn't exactly know what they need and can't give you the answers to the questions that you need in order to price it then you propose I wouldn't say it's a fee for the proposal it's a fee for the discovery process right? It's you have to you can't say I'm going to charge you for my proposal maybe they do that in other industries but really you're you're doing a lot of the very important work to discover what they need in the first place and then you're putting that in a document and you can put prices to it, but essentially it's a document that says, if we were to work with you, here's the information we've learned and here's what we proposed to dio and that you should be paid for if you have to go through all of that time and effort, and that also is very tricky because you have to sell it to them from the point of view of there's value to this and when the client I have actually does it, and she calls it a blueprint actually for the web site, and she says on, once you have your blueprint, you khun take it and shop it around right and get other prices based on it and see which is the best value. Now they're pros and cons to that right? You don't necessarily want to encourage your client to shop around, but you could use that to show why yours is the best value, because certainly very few other people are going to go to that trouble. She absolutely charges for it. And and as you were saying, j k o that feet could easily be then applied to the project, and you can position it that way, and you can sell it that way, so we don't know yet. Nearly enough about you and your needs and your project to give you a price so we propose that we're going to do the initial discovery phase first and here's what we're going to learn and here's what we're going to have at the end and it will be a blueprint for your website and the fees going to be a thousand dollars twenty five hundred dollars five thousand dollars whatever it is and that fi if you choose us will be applied to the actual project if you decide to go ahead with us one beautiful thing actually about this technique which I highly recommend is that it gives you a new opportunity to dance if you will with the client that you don't know yet and get to know if it's a good fit because especially for large projects where there are potential complications or potential scope creep this discovery process gives you an out if you decide they are a red fag client they are too chaotic they are too clueless they you know are too disrespectful whatever it is you haven't out because you all you've committed to is this first phase of the process other questions in the room you know how do you go about structuring a value based proposal to you elaborate on the pricing to based on the value that they're getting and what do you do for if you're structuring a proposal for a revenue share type of scenario well, I think there's a lot of information that need to be gathered in order to do that and then you have to and maybe you know, this includes a lot of writing and I highly recommend if you're not a writer to hire a copywriter to help you with a generic proposal and that person can also be involved in figuring out what exactly is the value that you bring and then be able to describe it in a way that is compelling that's really important? Thanks. All right. So the exercise for this lesson is how many proposals have you submitted in your career and what percentage have you won let's see if the people in the room and the people in the chat room can just off the top of their head give us a percentage. How many proposals have you submitted over your career? And what percentage would you say? You have one because here we can talk about what is normal, right? Because some people think I should be winning all my proposals. Some people think or say I haven't ever won a proposal and where is the reality? And let me just preface this by saying that if you are winning all of your proposals you're doing something wrong right? Because your prices may be way too low if everyone is saying yes to you so the average should be around fifty percent because otherwise your prices maybe to loathe first to us and she gets ninety percent of everything she's one so I think she needs to rethink her pricing maybe carla says seventy to eighty damian says around seventy five percent katie cases around eighty five percent is very high it's funny because we imagine that a high percentage is good but in this situation I really don't think it is unless you're pricing really is competitive so I think it's important you know you really should be going after things that you may not necessarily get because that will stretch you that will help you grow and you'll learn from it I need to raise my prices a sure sign that you need to raise your prices is if you get all the jobs for all the proposals you d'oh now grass grass a graphics has got the opposite problem they say I have I've done about five or six and I haven't gotten any of them so maybe the price is too high who knows, right? Well I need to help her well, we'll be helping her anyone else in the room wanna off the top of their head thinking and yes, I probably need to rethink my price does that make sense that I mean, were you thinking about like, oh, that must be pretty good but maybe not well I think it also has to depends on who you're sending these proposals to, and they're already very warm prospect through referral, for example, it's a much easier sell than if you're sending something to somebody you've never worked with, who is, you know, maybe a much bigger type of client and others and others, thank you for putting the past. It depends a lot, it really does, and I think that's an important point that people who come to you, it is an easier sell, right? I mean, that's, one of the benefits of word of mouth that's what people love about word of mouth is I don't have to sell myself, and it does mean that you're much more likely to get the job, but I think that to stretch and to do what we've been talking about throughout this course, which is seek and you will find it, puts you in a position of going after projects using proposals that you may not get, but that will allow you to be in touch with and communicate with and be made aware of two people who are in a better position to hire you, even if you don't even get that first one in the first place. All right, so this is basically about creating relationships with people through the proposal process, and so in a way, what I'm saying is, don't focus. So much on whether you get it or not, because you will learn a lot in the process, and you will develop relationships with people who may hire you in the future as well, especially if you keep in touch with them. Knowing that, she says she doesn't get very many of any of her big proposals. But it really helps her in developing her proposal process. Absolutely and that's important. And so sometimes, if you have time, if you're not too busy, it's a good idea to do a proposal that you think you may not be the right fit for, because it will help you in your proposal process. And you may be wrong.