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If there is one thing I could teach you to dramatically improve the success of your creative business, it would be ALWAYS present your proposals. I have been a broken record on this topic in tons of different pieces of content. I’m sure you’ve heard it from me before.

I’m probably so passionate about it because in the early days, like you, I would fall into the trap of thinking, “I can just email this proposal to the client. That will be fine.” Then the wiser agency owners (who already knew the power of presenting their proposals) would swoop in and win projects that should have been mine.

When I finally figured this out, a couple years into freelancing, my business exploded into a full agency after doubling our billings several years in a row. Effective proposal presentations had a lot to do with it.

The Benefits of Presenting Proposals

Presenting your proposal to a qualified client accomplishes some great things.

First, during this presentation your client can get to know you. They will feel your creative energy and see the trustworthiness in your eyes. The client will see how likable you are and begin to think things like, “This person seems great. I would enjoy working with them.” These thoughts will have a big impact on their decision to choose you. In the end, as the cliché goes, “People do business with people they know, like and trust.”

Second, proposal presentations lead to increased prices. Your proposal should outline your process to satisfy the client’s goals.

“First we will do this…”

“Then we will do this…”

“And those things will lead to these results…”

“Here is a client we worked with in this process and the results they achieved…”

As you walk your client through your proposal they will begin to see the full level of effort you will put into the work. A well crafted proposal presentation will help the client realize that there is a lot of work that goes into the project. Cheap clients will quickly realize that they will need to increase their budget because they will see, through your presentation, that your process will lead to the best results and your process isn’t cheap.

Finally, in your proposal presentation you will be able to read your client’s comments and body language. Are you going to fast? Are you going to slow? Are they confused by something? Are they seeing how great a choice you are for the project?

As you hear their comments and read their body language, you will be able to resolve concerns on the spot. Rather than letting the client’s small concerns from an emailed-only proposal balloon into deal-breakers.

Can’t You Just Email Me the Proposal

Now, knowing the importance of presenting proposals, what should you do when a client says, “Can’t you just email me the proposal?”

This can be a common request depending on the types of clients you work with. Some clients just don’t understand the value in being walked through the proposal and some clients are just fishing for a price. You understand the value and your aren’t interested in price fishers. Here is how to respond to a client who asks for an emailed proposal.

“Thanks for asking. I have found that it is significantly better for both of us if we jump on a 10-15 minute call to go over the proposal before I send it to you. There are a few things I need to call attention to and I’d love to address any questions you have as we walk through it. Could you do a 10-15 minute video call later this week? I’m available Thursday morning from XX:XX to XX:XX or Friday all day.”

“I know your time is valuable, so I’ll be respectful and keep the meeting to 10-15 minutes (pending any questions you may have). After we chat, I’ll email you the document so you can consider it and discuss with your team. Thank you!”

Explain your reason for the meeting.

Offer a few schedule options.

Be respectful of their time.

What If They Push Back?

You request a meeting and your client won’t have it. They are way too busy to schedule “yet another meeting.” And they use the effective guilt tactic, “All of the other agencies are just emailing their proposals. Why can’t you?”

If they still push back and just want the emailed proposal, then you probably shouldn’t be too demanding for the presentation. I believe that a client who is genuinely interested in working with you will jump on a quick call 99% of the time. A client who is genuinely price shopping and comparing your price to other prices, will demand the emailed proposal and not be interested in the video call to walk through it.

So push back once using the script. If they still demand an emailed proposal, you should probably send it over lest you be perceived as “difficult to work with.” Just know that without a proposal presentation you lack the ability to build a relationship of trust, sell them on your process and price, as well as resolve their concerns in real time.

You’re not alone with email proposal requests, but don’t go down without a fight. It is worth your time to pursue the presentation and it will lead to greater success in your business.

Michael Janda

I am Michael Janda, an executive level creative leader with more than 25 years of experience in both in-house creative departments and agencies working with some of the greatest brands in the world including Disney, Google, Fox, ABC and NBC. I create books, courses, workshops, lectures and other training materials to help creative entrepreneurs run successful businesses.