How Can I Pitch a Bolder, More Edgy Consulting Engagement?

In the past, your proposals have been about building something, maintaining something. Maybe you’ve been billing by the project, or most likely, you’ve been billing the hour.

But now, you’ve got a new client, and you want to pitch a different kind of proposal. Change things up a bit.

  • More about helping the client achieve an objective you can both measure;
  • Less about defending your approach;
  • More about using all the skills needed to make a difference;
  • Less about posturing;
  • More about being in an honest relationship;
  • Less about being affordable;
  • More about being bold.

The Elements of a Bold, Edgy Proposal

1. The Proposal Makes the Potential Client Feel Inspired yet a Little Scared to Say Yes

A bold, edgy proposal will be gunning to solve your client’s problem so well that they will feel like they’ve been understood more than your competitor’s proposals. It’ll make them feel a little irrational to want to say yes, a little scared to take you on.

Of course, that will be the consequence of your hard work understanding their situation, sharpening your vision of the before and the after. You’ll have shown a lot of empathy for the struggle by having had multiple honest, insightful “why” conversations. And you’ll have shown a clear view that you’re able to deliver.

And to help to make the client feel even more inspired to go with you, consider offering multiple options.

2. The Proposal Offers Options that Compete Against One Another

A proposal that only includes a single option is a take-it-or-leave-it proposal. The client either goes with this option, or they go with someone else, or more likely, they go with a we’ll-do-it-in-house option.

But instead, if you pitch a proposal that has multiple options (and the magic number is three), you make each of the options compete against the other ones.

Option 1: (Big Fixed Price)
(We make sure the result gets achieved)

Option 2: (Monthly Fee For Deliverables)
(A monthly retainer, where we iterate and test)

Option 3: (A Fixed Price)
(A bundle of three deliverables)

Each option addresses the problem. Each option is something you’re ready to offer, for them to say “yes” on, and where you can delight and exceed expectations. (None of them are about a compromise, neither for you nor them).

Make sure that each option is tuned to make the client carefully weigh her choices. The shortcomings of one option are the strengths of the other. Make sure each option is designed to address anxieties (reduce the Anxiety force) and inspire forward momentum (increase the Attraction force), as we’ve seen with the Forces of Progress diagram.

Also notice how the top option goes further than the bottom options.

In fact, the top option assumes you’re the one taking the most risk.

3. The Proposal Offers An Option Where You Assume Risk

The single best way to submit a bolder, more edgy proposal, is to include an option which signals that you’re ready to assume more risk.

You’ll take the risk of putting your time, your money and your reputation on the line.

You’ll be taking the bet that your solution will get them their desired outcome.

Most likely, that will be the top-most option.

The least risky for you will be the third option, but that will be the option that’ll be the most risky for them, because it’ll be about specific deliverables (that you can’t guarantee will acheive the goal), or about hours worked, or about something else that can be measured but where you assume no responsibility for the outcome. Include that option, and prepare to deliver on it if they select it.

The option in the middle will likely be the one they choose.


Regardless, showcasing three options that are all made to achieve the goals, that you’re capable of delivering, that show a gradient of risk between you and the client, that’s sure to make the client feel inspired to work with you. If not now, surely some other time down the line. You’ll have left a mark on them, that’s for sure.

Stay edgy, stay sharp!



@pascallaliberte

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