Why business proposals are a waste of time! and what you should do instead

Why business proposals are a waste of time! and what you should do instead
Don't waste you time writing free business proposals. (Photo by Andrea Piacquadio)

We have all been there; you have a client you really want to work with. The only thing is they want you to send a BUSINESS PROPOSAL!

So you go through all the hassle and effort to write something tailored, you send it over and guess what; NO RESPONSE (like asking for someone's number knowing you won't be in touch, but you just did it anyway).

PROBLEM WITH UPFRONT BUSINESS PROPOSALS

The reason they ask for a business proposal is because they are either not interested and want to shoo you away or they don't trust you . When you do the business proposal and send it over they may not even respond, or if they do it is either 'we are not moving forward', or 'we will get back to you if we are interested.'
You are in a way working for free by giving them all your rich insights and knowledge, which they can potentially use to leverage other businesses or consultants.
Your time and your knowledge is your treasure and you want to make sure you are investing it wisely. By sending over a detailed business proposal without any deal struck is problematic, as you don't know if they are serious or are just time wasters.

SOLUTION

Be firm in that you don't do detailed, tailored business proposals upfront; this gets rid of the time wasters!

Engage with them more than once, so encourage them to have a few more calls together with you. This is where you can communicate with them that you can work on the business proposal/framework together; they would most likely make notes or you can as well.

This helps in two ways:

  1. You get to know each other more, which builds trust. (sounds like I am writing a dating manual, but I guess the basics apply). By engaging with you in this way shows they are genuinely interested in what you have to offer and are putting skin in the game.
  2. You will refine the business proposal with the client to their demands and demonstrate what you are capable of doing. This is a more effective approach where you are developing something they understand, agree with and it meets their expectations.

If they can't mentally get around it or the organisation has some bureaucracy where they need something, you can have a brief or a website with general info but you want to avoid doing detailed personalised business proposals for leads.

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