How You Charge Is as Important as What You Charge

Proposals as Confirmation—Not Negotiation

There is a huge misconception about the purpose of a proposal in consulting. Many consultants view them as a “sales vehicle,” which they never will be. Perhaps it's the consultant who hates negotiating, or sucks at selling or is perhaps just lazy—who knows—but the mistake is that they receive an inquiry from a prospective client and immediately send over a stock proposal that explains their services, what they will provide, and how much it will cost. Their hope is that the prospect will love what they see and either buy right then and there, or call them in to negotiate a final deal. The other equally misguided approach is to meet with a prospect, have a great discussion, and then, when the prospect asks, “What would you charge to provide this service?,” you respond with, “Well, let me go crunch some numbers based on what you've told me, and put together a proposal and send it over.” Either tactic is normally the kiss of death.

The only way a proposal should ever be used is as confirmation of what you and the prospect have already agreed to verbally or face-to-face. Here's your gauge to know if you're screwing up and using a proposal incorrectly. If your prospect has to learn the specifics of what will be delivered and how much it will cost by seeing it in the proposal for the first time, you're doing it wrong.

The right way to do it would be to discuss all of the deliverables with the ...

Get The Profitable Consultant: Starting, Growing, and Selling Your Expertise now with the O’Reilly learning platform.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from nearly 200 publishers.