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February 10, 2015
Write Contracts, Not Proposals

Did you know that it’s possible to skip the proposal? Well, it is.

When a prospect responds positively and contacts you, they’ll expect you to tell them how you can help. And in doing so you’ll be summarizing what could be a “proposal,” but by doing it verbally you skip the written proposal process entirely and just follow up with a contract.

Prospects want you to be knowledgeable and powerful. Your verbal summary reinforces your power. Start by listening to what the prospect needs; ask as many questions as possible. Make sure it’s clear that your questions are in the spirit of helping them. Then recap what you’ve heard and ask for corrections or feedback. Finally, address these three critical points:
1. What, in your experience, will fill their need?
2. How long will it take?
3. What will it cost?

Ask if they agree. If not, listen carefully to their response and correct your approach as needed until you’re comfortable you have the three points right.

Then, with their agreement: follow up with a contract.

The clarity of your analysis reveals the power of your insights and expertise. Best of all, the value your insights verbalized in the moment will help you close deals with better-than-acceptable fees.

Wherever you are in your career, remember that you’ve spent your whole life learning and preparing for this moment. You’re educated. You have skills. You keep up to date. Be confident in using your experience and close with a contract. 

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Ted Leonhardt has provided management consulting and negotiation training exclusively to creative businesses since 2005. He cofounded the The Leonhardt Group, a brand design firm in 1985 and sold it in 1999. In 2001 and 2002 Ted served as Chief Creative Officer for Fitch Worldwide, out of London. In 2003 through early 2005 Ted was president of Anthem Worldwide, a brand packaging design group.     
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