May Bezold, EVP of the Post-Revelry division at Back2Work, Inc., has asked your consulting firm for a proposal.
You know from experience that if you share too little of your approach, a prospect like May won’t sign.
However, sharing too much detail also leads to problems.
What’s the right amount of information to share about your consulting firm’s approach, and why?
As always, consulting isn’t about you or your consulting firm. It’s about your THEM – your clients and prospects.
May, like most of your prospects, doesn’t inherently want to know anything about your consulting firm’s approach, except out of intellectual curiosity.
Although you’re interested in the details and the nuances, all she’s thinking is, “Is this going to work?”
What May really wants to know is that your consulting firm is a credible, reliable solution to her Post-Revelry headaches.
Therefore, the right level of detail to share is the minimum necessary to reassure May that your approach is reliable and your consulting firm is a credible provider. No more.
Before you populate the Approach section of your proposal, reflect on your prospect’s stance:
- How skeptical has she appeared to be?
- What concerns and doubts did she express about the process?
- What, if any, process signals did she send? These sound like, “How, exactly, would you work with us?” or, “We tried this with another consultant and it didn’t work—how would this be different?”
- What level of detail did she indicate she is expecting in the proposal?
A more skeptical prospect requires more proof points and a stronger model, not necessarily a more detailed approach.
On the other hand, approach-related concerns and signals should be addressed with greater detail in your proposal.
Does Any of This Matter?
What’s the problem with adding some extra detail to a proposal or even submitting a fully tricked out approach?
That’s a fair question.
If you’re feeling insecure about an assignment, you may over-share. Some firms also over-share out of habit. Here are some downsides:
- Revealing your approach in detail can commoditize your work. Even though it’s your experience, not the mystery of the approach, that clients are buying, when your approach looks too much like a detailed set of steps, the perceived value can drop.
- Detailed proposals restrict your consulting firm’s ability to maneuver, tweak or totally change the approach in response to on-the-ground conditions. You’re caught between the proposed approach and the client’s Desired Outcome.
- Additional detail can confuse your prospect, surface questions that are pushed down to lower-level staff, and slow down or stop the approval process in its tracks.
- Unless your proposal uses boilerplate language, including unnecessary detail adds to your proposal development time and reduces your productivity.
- There’s an off chance (albeit not highly likely) that if you share too much detail, your prospect will decide she can handle parts of the project or the entire project using her internal team.
Take May Bezold’s request for a proposal as a sign that she views your consulting firm as likely solution to her Post-Revelry headache.
Push past your insecurity, and slim down the approach section of your proposal.
One final note: Rightly or wrongly, clients do link perceived difficulty with perceived value. Therefore, don’t oversimplify your approach or leave out all details.
The sweet spot is usually a proposal that presents an excellent model, an overview of the approach, and a sprinkling of detail to reassure May that your approach has depth and rigor.
Quick question (please answer in the comments):
Have you ever won a project after editing out some detail in the approach section of your proposal? If so, what amount of detail worked for you?
Text and images are © 2023 David A. Fields, all rights reserved.