5 Solutions For Contractors That Struggle With Proposals

designDo you ever find yourself stuck in an endless loop of proposals when trying to acquire new business? Do you feel like you’re spending too much time on proposals and not enough time actually making money?

You may often find yourself doing a written proposal before signing an actual agreement and depending on how well you’ve dialled in this process for your business, it can be very time consuming.

This can occasionally even get out of hand and you’ll find yourself wasting more time than it’s worth for that contract you’re going after. Some of the problems are out of your control but many of them are within your control.

If you think that the proposal process is giving you more headaches than it should, one of the following solutions might help you.

1. Stop Offering Proposals

If you’re getting stuck with doing too many proposals, stop offering to do them.

You’re probably going through the typical sales cycle and, with the excitement of having a great meeting, you finish off with saying, “ I will get a proposal for you next week.”

The odds are that you’re the one opening yourself up to allow for a proposal because you didn’t have the confidence that you actually did your job. Your job is to sell the business while you are there in front of them. Yes, we still have to do proposals but all they’re supposed to do is document what has already been discussed.

2. Consider Whether a Proposal Is Necessary

If you believe that you have to sell by proposals then you have to do them. If you believe you are in business that doesn’t need proposals, why are you doing them?

In my business, we have to do a proposal (especially with audit clients) otherwise we wouldn’t get them. If you’ve done the proper groundwork and setup your potential client correctly, the proposal is simply a document that clarifies what you are going to do for them. It’s not a sales document – you can’t sell with a proposal.

Not to be confused with an estimate or a quote, a proposal comes into the picture when you know you already have the job. You can’t afford to waste your time preparing a proposal if you aren’t certain that the job is yours. A proposal is simply a document that outlines what I said during the sales cycle to expand on the key points.

3. Know When To Draw The Line

Some people are more demanding than others and it’s up to you to determine when enough is enough. At some point you will have demonstrated the value you can deliver to the best of your ability and it will be on the other side to determine if you’re a fit for each other.

If someone keeps coming back to you with one question after another, you have to be prepared that they might never actually become clients. Most of us work in a business where time is valued greatly and energy is finite so you have to pull the trigger at some point and decide if the continuing costs to your organization to continue pursuing it are worthwhile.

Let’s say you were buying advertising on TV and putting $1000/day into it but weren’t getting any action from it so you double it and increase the budget to $2000/day. Things still aren’t going as well as you hoped so you increase the budget again with the hopes that will solve the problem but at which point do you make the decision to stop advertising on television?

The proposal process is the same thing except the investment is your time.

4. Never Send a Proposal

You should never send a proposal via email. You must always present a proposal so you can see their face and judge their reactions. If you send a proposal with a price in there, you have no clue what they actually thought about it. You only know what they told you after they had time to think about it in front of their keyboard.

Another reason you must always present a proposal is because it may contain key points of the strategy you plan to implement for them. I’ve seen entrepreneurs get burned because the prospective client decides they like their ideas and will implement them on their own.

5. Create a Template That’s Easy To Customize

Proposals take time and they need to be customized – there’s no way around that but that doesn’t mean you can’t simplify the process. When you think about proposals, do they take time? Yes. Do they need to be customized? Yes – to a point. Ideally you are building templates that are flexible enough to allow you to create customized offers without a ton of work every single time. Proposals are not cookie cutter though. If your proposals have a cookie cutter feel to them, you might as well make a brochure.

You can still develop a proposal template to work from as a starting point to help you finish it much faster. There’s nothing wrong that as long as the end result matches the discussions had during the sales process.

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