Get Smart - Offer a Proposal

Remember Maxwell Smart from the 1960’s comedy series Get Smart! When he was in a bind, caught by the baddies, he would often start off his explanation by saying “Would you believe…” in an effort to convince his enemies that – although he was captured and possibly facing torture - he had the upper hand.

How do you handle the situation when you are facing clients, and they expect you to make them an offer? Do you simply say, “I’ll give you a quote”.

This can often be the ‘kiss of death’ for your sales efforts.


Because when you give someone a quote, what do they look at? The price, of course. After all, isn’t that what a quote is for?

But if you – like many skilled service providers – want your potential client to see your services as something special, something that is more than just a price, then you have to present your services as more than just a quote.

Get Smart.

He always had a proposal for his captors.

Don’t just offer a quote that explains (in precise, dry technical terms) what you will be doing. That’s what most of your opposition will do as well.

I suggest you create a mini-proposal that includes some of the ‘flavour’ that you bring to your client when you work with them.

Make your mini-proposal a sales document.

And never call it a quote. Try using another name like a Project Plan; Design Proposal; Training Proposal; Services Proposal, etc

Include a conversational-style explanation of how you will work with your client. And mention what the outcome will be. What is it you are helping your client to achieve? Make sure you remind them as they may not fully recognise how well you can help them.

Sure… you need to put in the price, or your fee, or the investment required by your prospect. But don’t just leave it at that.

By taking this approach you will also have something meaningful to discuss when you present your mini-proposal to your soon-to-be client. Make a point of reading over what you have written with them to drive home your key points. Use this as an opportunity to increase your point of difference and give your prospect a good reason to choose you.

The dollar value will speak for itself, the business value must be explained.

Stuart Ayling runs Marketing Nous, an Australasian marketing consultancy that specialises in marketing for service businesses. He helps clients to improve their marketing tactics, attract more clients, and increase revenue. For additional marketing resources, including Stuart's popular monthly newsletter, visit his web site at