Proposals: Just Say “No”

March 28, 2013

Have you ever spent hours writing a proposal, submitted it to a client, then never heard back?

I have, especially recently, and so have associates I’ve spoken with.  We may initially get a response or two by phone or e-mail saying that no decision has been made yet, but then nothing.  The prospect moves on without telling us what, if anything, has been decided.

Is this happening in your business?

The prospects for whom we write proposals may have good intentions.  But would it be too much to ask for them to just say, “No?”

Opportunity Costs

Estimating conservatively, the opportunity costs to draft a proposal are at least $1,000.  I might have otherwise spent the time used on research and writing to help paying clients, target other prospects or enjoy life.

The time spent on a proposal is an investment that can have considerable returns.  When someone retains Kowal Communications, the client relationship usually lasts for many years; the longer it lasts, the greater the return on the time spent drafting the initial proposal.

But too often of late, the time spent drafting proposals has had no return on investment.  It may be that priorities changed internally, that the prospect decided to hire another agency or that the cost exceeded the prospect’s budget.

Whatever the case, why not let us know?  If the budget is an issue, maybe a compromise can be reached.  If someone else had a better proposal or was deemed to be a better fit for the prospect’s needs, we’d like to know, so we can move on.

Not telling us is not only unprofessional, it also means we'll waste more time on following up.  We may also assume that the prospect was looking for free ideas or was already planning to hire an agency and wanted a proposal for comparison or to satisfy a requirement for a competitive proposal.

We’d rather have prospects just say, “yes.”  But if that’s not an option, saying “no” is better than saying nothing at all.


Absolutely right! Not telling

Absolutely right! Not telling the agency the reasons for the rejection of their proposal is unprofessional and unacceptable behavior!

Absolutely right!

Thanks for your comment.

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