The Proposal …

November 23, 2010 by +Marj Wyatt  
Filed under Business Basics, Small Business

In my business, potential clients sometimes ask for me to submit a detailed proposal that outlines deliverables and costs for milestones on a project.  This usually follows a lengthy phone conversation.  This is not an unreasonable request but preparing these proposals takes time that cannot be spent on other business activities and exposes details about my strategies and methods so my quandary is what level of commitment to ask of the prospect in exchange prior to delivering the document.  Although it is part of doing business, nobody likes paperwork.

Project Proposal GetIncomeBlog.comWhen I launched my business, I submitted detailed proposals without a second thought.  However, I modified my approach after a potential client failed to acknowledge the receipt of the proposal and ignored my requests for follow-up and negotiation until he contacted me to share a listing he had placed on a freelance site which was a verbatim copy of everything I had written in my proposal.  I was shocked.  He seemed pleased about the fact that he had sourced the project at a lower rate than I had proposed.  He has returned with new requests since then but I’ve declined.

My proposals now include a time limitation for pricing and a copyright notification that is intended to discourage prospects from using my content to shop their projects around.  In spite of these measures, there still are people who promise to meet with me after the proposal is sent, fail to return calls or emails for a while, and send a cryptic email saying that they “going another direction” with their project after a couple of weeks.  This is disappointing … and suspicious.

This isn’t a sour grapes post.  I certainly don’t expect to win every contract but I honestly don’t know how to handle prospects who leverage my copyrighted content to shop around for better pricing.  It is a bona fide conundrum.

These are the possible solutions that I’ve come up with:

  1. Withhold the delivery of all proposals until a mutually agreed to meeting time where we can walk through and discuss each point/price.
  2. Charge a flat fee for preparing and delivering detailed proposals and estimates that covers the cost of my time.
  3. Propose only an hourly rate for all projects in the future and track time, which is a big headache for me.
  4. Join the Circus and escape it all.  :)

Well, the last one isn’t really an option but it is fun to muse about sometimes.

Comments

2 Responses to “The Proposal …”
  1. Dani says:

    I so feel your pain, and am strongly drawn to option #4 myself. Of course, one could argue that my venture into the IM industry is joining the circus. God knows there is an abundance of clowns and fools in this space.

    That being said, I would go the route of charging for the documentation, with a rider to waive the fee from the final invoice if they elect to hire you. That’s what mechanics do. They charge for diagnosis, but if you have them do the work, they wave the diagnostic fee.
    Dani recently posted..On Mindset… Who Should Not Read This BlogMy Profile

    • Marj Wyatt says:

      I wrote that post so long ago that I had to go read it again. I’m glad you enjoyed it though.

      Your suggestion IS a good one and no one could argue it. Another thing that I’ve begun doing, since that time, is stipulating in the proposal that the information is copyrighted.

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