Building Trust With Clients — How I Land Almost Every Proposal

Written by Chelsea Baldwin on March 6, 2017

It’s the moment after you send out the proposal. You know you’ve done your best, and you know you can do great work for the client. And you know the price you quoted is a good value. But will they take you up on it, or have you just wasted three hours of your life putting this pitch together?

For most independent contractors, more time is wasted creating proposals than it is actually landing the gigs they represent. I used to be there, too; I’d get so frustrated at the whole “building trust with clients” thing. Getting a lead, making a free call and creating a proposal took so long, and I was lucky if I landed 30 percent of the proposals I sent out. I knew I did good work, and I knew I was worth the price I quoted.

Why No One Was Biting

Were other writers really quoting prices that much cheaper than me? Or were they really that much better? I couldn’t believe there was too much of a difference between us, so I set out to learn how to close more of the proposals I spent hours putting together.

The good news? I figured it out. As it happens, what you write in a proposal has less to do with what you write and say about yourself, and has everything to do with what you write and say about what the client stands to gain. Specifically, it’s all about the money that particular client stands to make as a result of the investment in your work.

Anchor Their Financial Benefit Against Your Cost

This was the big secret I learned: spelling out someone’s potential return on investment (ROI). To do so, you need to ask questions most contractors don’t ask in initial calls, because they don’t think that information is any of their business, including how much money your client makes per month, how much they make per customer, how many projects they can handle in a month’s time and what their current conversion rates are.

Yes, it’s polite not to ask these questions when you’re out drinking cocktails with your social acquaintances. But when someone gets in touch with you to work for them and make their business better as a result, it’s absolutely your business to ask those questions. In fact, if you want to spell out a probable financial ROI for your customers, you need to ask these questions. When you know how much business someone currently conducts, how much they charge and how much space they have for new business, you can run the math and figure out how much more they stand to gain as a result of your work.

When you spell it out for them — especially if your fees are less than they stand to make in a short time period — the work is yours.

Take Inspiration From This Example

I recently signed an artist client who told me my fees were more than twice what she wanted to invest initially, but she was totally on board. When I asked what she currently made, it averaged out to about $4,000 per month, but when I asked her about conversion rates, the kind of clients she prefers and her weekly and monthly work capacity, even with conservative calculations we saw she could easily scale herself up to $15,000-plus per month before the end of the year as a result of my work. Needless to say, she was all about it.

What if instead of spelling out that financial upside for her, I skipped all that and just quoted her a price more than twice what she thought she’d initially spend? I never would’ve heard from her again, let alone signed a multi-thousand dollar contract with her.

Growing Income From Building Trust With Clients

In the past, I maybe closed 30 percent of the proposals I sent out. Now, it’s 90 percent or more. In addition to not spending as much time writing proposals, I’m growing my income. I discovered this “secret” in the last part of 2016, and I fully expect to nearly triple my income from last year’s best month.

But what about you? What tactics do you use in your proposals that help you land more of them? Let me know in the comments; I’d love to hear.

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