One common question I’ve been getting lately from my digital marketing clients is, “Chris, should I be selling my services with custom proposals or packages?”
In this post, I am going to share which one I recommend for Digital Marketers (those who specialize in Paid ads, SEO, Social Media, Content, Websites or Video Marketing).
Amongst digital marketers, custom proposals are probably more commonly used than packages, but there are 2 majors negatives to custom proposals. First, they take a ton of your time without a strong likelihood of getting a sale. Second, after you hit send on them, you do not typically receive any feedback from the prospect.
Because of these two negatives, I do not recommend leading with a custom proposal in a sales meeting with a prospect. I recommend getting your prospect to say YES to buying one of your “results-based” packages before you even create a proposal.
What exactly is a results-based package? It’s a term I use in my 6-Figure Freedom coaching program and it means a service package you offer that focuses on the result the client will receive when they buy it.
So why get your prospect to say YES to buying one of your “results-based” packages before you create a custom proposal?
If you have a sales meeting with a prospect and you leave the meeting tasked with sending them a custom proposal, 3 things could happen…
#1 You spend a ton of time creating a proposal based on what you think the prospect wants and at a price you hope the prospect will say YES to. In simple terms, basically you’re guessing without much data.
#2 Once you submit the proposal to your prospect, you’re not guaranteed to receive any feedback or an opportunity to meet any of their objections or concerns.
#3 After you hit send on the proposal, you experience what I call the “awkward silence period”, where you wonder how and when you should recontact them. Think of it like awkward middle school dating than running a digital marketing business to me:)
The end result of leading with a custom proposal is that you’re chasing the prospect and you’re more likely to hear lame excuses like “we’ll think about it” or “I need to talk to so and so or the decision maker”. The prospect is in total control, behind a gate, and you’re one of many competitors knocking on the door to get their attention. In this kind of situation, you’re also likely to feel the pressure to under-price your proposals, which is not what I want for you.
But if you get this right and lead with “results-based” packages in your sales meetings, you get the opportunity to assess what your prospect needs and present them with your recommended “results-based” packages. And then 3 better things happen…
#1 You get immediate feedback about what the prospect wants and what their budget is.
#2 You have the opportunity to meet any objections or concerns, right on the spot.
#3 There’s no “awkward silence period” or guessing how or when you should recontact them.
And the end result of the lead that you’ve presented with your “results-based” packages is one of 3 things;
Either the prospect says “YES, I want this package” and you create the proposal for them to sign…or they say “Not yet” and they enter your re-marketing process…or they say “No” and you move on. In both of the later situations, you don’t waste your time creating a custom proposal for a prospect who isn’t likely to buy.
There are 4 reasons to formalize and brand your “result-based” packages…
#1 It increases your conversion rates. Human are attracted to clarity and repelled by complexity. Packages are clear and custom proposals are complex.
#2 It increases your ability to charge premium prices. When you position your packages according to the results it will produce versus just “your time”, your client is more likely to pay more for a result than your time.
#3 It’s easier to market a product (in this case a package) than a person. One of the reasons for this is when you try to sell yourself, the focus is on you (and not the client). The goal is to stay as client-centeric as possible. It’s not about you, it’s about them.
#4 It’s easier to delegate roles with a product than with a person. When you’re the product, the client can become emotionally dependent on you doing all the work versus the result your team can get for them. When the client “has to have you”, you’re not likely to have the type of freedom you envisioned when you first started your business.
Here are some additional questions I’ve received around this topic…
What if, over the course of the sales meeting, my packages or prices need to be significantly customized or altered?
If you can’t alter your packages or prices on the spot or need time to think about it, I recommend scheduling a follow-up meeting before the current sales meeting ends (either in-person or video conference). This scheduled meeting must include the key decision makers to share the packages with, the opportunity to receive feedback and hopefully seal the deal.
What if the prospective company has a very traditional and formal proposal process?
I recommend leading with your packages first, getting a verbal YES or at least some good feedback on your packages and prices first and then follow their process. You may get some push back with this approach, but this sets a precedent on what type of relationship you need to have with the client. You want a true partnership, not a “dog and pony show.” If you have to jump through a lot of hoops in the sales process, this will likely continue or even intensify during your working relationship with them. You may even have to weigh whether the potential contract is worth the time invested in the process. Sometimes it is, sometimes it’s not.
What do I do if I’ve already submitted a proposal the old fashioned way and haven’t heard back from them yet?
The ideal first step would be to schedule a follow-up meeting (in-person or video conference) to discuss the proposal you sent them (aka make sure it’s a good fit for them). This scheduled meeting must include the key decision makers to share the packages with, to get feedback and hopefully seal the deal. I wouldn’t recommend getting feedback or negotiating via email or phone.
I would recommend a short and simple email with a request for the follow-up meeting. Be sure to include “I’ll follow-up with you via phone call on [date] at [time] if I don’t hear back from you beforehand” at the bottom of the email. Then mark your calendar with a reminder to call them. Using this approach, you’re setting the expectation that you will be calling them. And when you do call them, you’re not stalking them, you’re simply doing exactly what you said you would do (which also builds trust).
Chris Rudolph is a husband, father of 3, and a Freedom Business Coach for Digital Marketers. He specializes in working with those who are underpaid, hustling around the clock or missing out on valuable family time build their own Freedom Agency. He helps them grow their income, scale with a team and enjoy more time with their family.