The Proposal …
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.
When 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:
- Withhold the delivery of all proposals until a mutually agreed to meeting time where we can walk through and discuss each point/price.
- Charge a flat fee for preparing and delivering detailed proposals and estimates that covers the cost of my time.
- Propose only an hourly rate for all projects in the future and track time, which is a big headache for me.
- Join the Circus and escape it all.
Well, the last one isn’t really an option but it is fun to muse about sometimes.