Stop Fucking Around Sending SEO Proposals

Let’s talk quickly about proposals and why they suck.

Something I hear all the time when I get new coaching clients. “John, I’m struggling to get clients, and when I do, they don’t end up working with me.”

Not only are they struggling to get clients, but they’re struggling to close the ones they get.

And this is because they’re still sending PDF proposals in order to try and close jobs. Now I can tell you right now, if you’re still emailing proposals thinking you’re going to close a deal – you’re wasting your fucking time.

Here’s how it usually goes

Someones interested in working with you.

You spend an hour with them, either on a call, in a meeting or via back and forth via email. You’re doing your best to explain your service offering, how you work, the benefits and everything else it is that you do, and why the client should sign up.

By the end of the conversation, they’ll say something like, “That all sounds wonderful John. Listen, can you send us a proposal?”

So you agree.

You then spend a whole day putting together some big fancy fucking proposal. Its full of charts, and graphs and squiggly lines and shit all in an effort to impress the prospect and hopefully close the deal.

You send it over, then guess what happens?

One of 4 things –

  • You end up in some back and forth never ending “what about this, what about that” nonsense
  • You never fucking hear from them again
  • They say, “Sorry not interested”, or
  • They’ll send your proposal over to someone else that does SEO

Fuck that.

I can tell you right now, I haven’t done a proposal in close to five years – and I will never do one again – EVER.

I cracked almost half a million dollars in revenue last year in my SEO business and didn’t send one fucking proposal.

I can say with confidence that, If you’re working in the SEO space, and you’re still emailing SEO proposals to prospects, you don’t stand a fucking chance. If we’re competing for the same job, I could charge twice what you’re charging, and I will steamroll you and win the job every single time.

How?

Ill tell you in a moment, but firstly, let’s take a quick look at why I don’t send proposals anymore.

They’re a fucking waste of time

I’ve sat in the office plenty of times for hours on end, banging out a 20-page proposal thinking I was going to get the job. Sitting there – up til 2am, trying to make them look all nice and fancy and professional – adding fancy charts, and graphs and squiggly lines in an effort to try and impress someone that couldn’t give a shit.

Completely pointless.

I remember once wasting two days putting a big fancy proposal together for a high end client with my quote at the end of it, and I never heard back from them ever again.

That really pissed me off and I knew there had to be a better way.

The prospect isn’t really serious

Chances are, they’re just not serious.

If you’re having a conversation with a prospect, and they cut you off and say, “Listen. okay, it all sounds great, but best to send us a proposal.” then chances are they’re really not serious about doing business.

I don’t have time to fuck around, and I’m sure that if you’re working in the SEO space, that you don’t either. I want to cut straight to the chase. Let’s not waste each others time here.

I’m not interested in spending two days or whatever it might be, putting together some big, fancy fucking proposal if there’s something that we can have a discussion about now, and get it out in the open before we go any further.

Right?

This is why I always talk about being upfront about your pricing and rates well before you spend hours or even days with a prospect who’s not a good fit, so that you’re not wasting each others time – but I’ll talk about that more in a different post.

Lolly scramblers

This one’s probably the most common.

Chances are, anyone that asks you for a proposal has asked 10 other people as well, and they’re simply price shopping. Their entire decision is going to be based upon price and price alone.

“Well this company is a lot cheaper, let’s go with them and see if it works out”

When that happens it becomes nothing more than a race to the bottom and the value you bring is meaningless.

They don’t get read

One of two things are going to happen here.

If you give them a hard copy, it’s going to end up on their desk, gathering dust, probably beneath a pile of a dozen other proposals that they have yet to read through. Or, if you’re emailing it over, it’s going to sit in their inbox for days on end because they’re too busy to look at it.

And when they do look at it, they’ll flick through it quickly, and then they’ll either bin it, or they’ll forget about it. Either one of those outcomes is not ideal and it’s certainly not going to close you any new jobs.

You’re not special

What you have to realise is that if you’re sending proposals, you’re not standing out. There’s nothing special about you or your offer. You’re just going to look like everyone else.

You don’t want that.

You need to go well above and beyond what everyone else has done, so that when the prospect sees your offer he or she says, “Holy shit. This guy has really delivered something special here. This is a no-brainer, how do we get started?”

I’ll get to exactly how you can do just that in  a minute.

Your close rates will suck

I know from personal experience after sending too many proposals than I care to remember that your close rates are going to suck. There’s no perceived value. Its just a piece of paper with words on it.

Who cares.

There’s a few reasons here why close rates suck with traditional proposals.

Firstly, the prospect is going to be looking through your proposal without your involvement, and I’ve never been comfortable with that because if they don’t understand something, or you can’t elaborate on something, or explain it, then your proposal is open to any sort of interpretation.

Secondly, chances are they’re just going to flick straight to the last page and look at the price. Which means they’re more than likely to bypass everything else that you’ve covered in the actual proposal itself. They might have a quick flick through the deliverables, but skip everything and jump straight to cost – which sucks. This isn’t ideal because it doesn’t give you a chance to elaborate, and explain things, and most importantly of all – explain the actual value that you’re bringing to the customer. So not being able to interact and go through the proposal with your client becomes a problem in itself.

Now I can hear you saying “But John, what’s wrong with sitting with the client and going through it with them?” Probably nothing, but again, if we’re competing for the same job, I’ll win it everytime.

Trust me, keep reading.

Thirdly, confusion. If there’s something that they don’t understand in the proposal, then you’re fucked. They’re going to look over it, and be completely confused and say, “I don’t really understand this.” which is definitely not what you want.

They’re going to put it straight in the too hard basket.

So you definitely don’t want that. Again, because they’re looking at it without you. You weren’t there to explain or elaborate on things in detail.

Lastly – perceived value

Sending someone a PDF proposal, and I don’t care how well you dress it up, the perceived value of your offering is going to be minimal because you’re not going to stand out. As said, it’s just a document. Whoop doop.

How I close almost 100% of my prospects without a proposal

So If I’m not sending proposals, what am I doing?

Again, I haven’t sent a proposal in about five years, and my close rates are virtually 100%. I do this, because I’m prequalifying the shit out of every enquiry I get, before I go anywhere near the next step.

I prequalify because I don’t want to waste any time.

So, during the first call I’m going to cut straight to the chase and make sure the prospect is a good fit. I’m going to cover my rates and I’ll cover a few brief points about how I operate, the process and why they should work with me (what makes me different)

From there, if they’re happy to proceed once I have prequalified, and I know they’re going to be a good fit, and it’s likely to work and be beneficial for both myself and the prospect, then I’ll move to a sales presentation.

That’s right, a sales presentation.

Now I can’t stress this enough – a sales presentation will win you just about every single job you pitch for.

But it doesn’t mean having to stand up in front of 500 people in some auditorium with a laser pointer.

It’s not a Ted Talk.

They’re not some big fancy complicated process that involves days of preparations.

Quite the opposite.

I do these presentations using Microsoft PowerPoint and I present them over a Skype call that typically takes about 45 minutes.

Moving quickly whilst providing massive value

In terms of the presentation itself, and the slides – I have a ready made template that I use to do them which allows me to put them together in about 20 minutes. All I need to do is fill in the blanks.

Now in that 20 minutes, I move quickly.

Because I don’t yet know, (even though I’ve pre-qualified the client), I don’t yet know if they’re serious and they’re going to come onboard. So I want to minimize the risk. And by that, I mean I want to minimize the amount of time that I could potentially waste if they decide to sit through the presentation and say, “Thanks, but no thanks.” I’m not interested in fucking around for a whole day, or half a day, or whatever it might be. So I’m going to move through putting this presentation together quickly and that’s why I use a template.

Now be mindful that I’ve already covered my rates BEFORE, I get on a call and hold this presentation so there’s no surprises. There’s no sudden “shock” or “wow that’s expensive!” or any other nasty surprises at the end of the presentation. That shits already been covered.

So the entire presentation is me, outlining huge value.

This is key.

As to what I’m covering in the presentation, here’s a few key points –

  • About me – Background of my business including my service offerings
  • Case studies. I’m showing them (and explaining on screen) previous companies that have worked with me and the results I’ve helped them acheive
  • My process. I cover how my process works from start through the finish so they have a good understanding of what to expect and how it all works
  • Key campaign objectives – We’ll talk about campaign goals. What they’re trying to achieve and how I can help them (here I always push the emphasis towards revenue, not rankings)
  • Site audit – Here I actually perform a low level audit on the prospects site and include it in the presentation. Once a prospect sees that you’ve actually spent some time looking/researching their site, they’ll be very impressed and ready to come onboard
  • SEO marketing strategy – These are the recommendations I make in terms of moving forward. “This is what we need to do and why”
  • Cost summary – and lastly the cost summary. This is an itemised breakdown or summary of the actual investment

I essentially go through the slides one at a time, and I outline and explain to the prospect everything from top to bottom, from start to finish, including at the very end, a quote.

Now by the time I get to my pricing and outlining my quote, I have covered everything in detail to the point where the prospect shouldn’t even have any questions and is ready to sign up. In most cases I’m not even finished the presentation and the prospect is asking how to get started.

Why it works

Presentations are much more powerful than traditional proposals for a number of reasons –

  • Its intimate and personal. You’re not just flicking someone a piece of paper. You’re spending time together and establishing a bond
  • You get to explain everything so there’s no confusion at all about your offer
  • You’re answering any questions they might have during the presentation itself – which is powerful at removing doubt or uncertainty
  • There’s interaction. Its not just them, sitting there reading something. You’re working together.
  • There’s a much higher perceived value, because you’ve taken the time to perform a low level audit on their site
  • You stand out – Because if you’ve submitted a PDF proposal via email and I host a presentation like this, the prospect will only remember me, not you.
  • Your rates are insignificant because you’ve focused heavily on the value you’re bringing
  • You get the opportunity to highlight why you’re different, and why they should work with you – by showing examples
  • You’re setting clear expectations, removing doubt and anything else that could potentially cause the prospect to go elsewhere

Now I can tell you right now, I knock these presentations together quickly. Not only am I explaining my process, pricing, time frames, and everything else, but I’ve actually performed a low level audit on their site – and let me tell you, they absolutely love that.

Now sure, you might be able to throw that together in a PDF, but the power of the visual presentation itself, plus having that level of interaction that you just don’t have with a traditional PDF proposal – you can’t lose.

And this is why I say, if I’m competing for a campaign against five other people and they’re sending PDF proposals, and I’m spending 45 minutes on a call with a prospect, I’m going to win that thing every single time, and that’s typically what happens.

So if you’re sending PDF proposals, you need to change your strategy fast, because that stuff is just a waste of time. I can prequalify during the first call in about 15 minutes, spend time putting together a presentation in 20 minutes then close the lead in about 45 minutes.

And I can do that all day long.

Oh, and don’t forget, most times during that presentation, I can typically take a prospect who intends on spending $2,100 a month, and turn that investment into an $8,000 or $10,000 deal right there, whilst keeping the $2,100 a month retainer.

But you’ll have to work with me in order to find out how.

Interested in working with me?

I can show you how to start your own hugely profitable SEO business fast, without any nonsense or mucking around. If you’re interested, get in touch or place an order for a free 20 minute consulting call.

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