3 Reasons Consulting Proposals Fail

You miss one hundred percent of the shots you do not take—but you also miss a lot of the shots you do take too. What can be done to address failed consulting proposals? In a video at Consulting Success, consulting coach Michael Zipursky outlines three reasons why proposals fail and offers a solution to improve proposal success rates.

Preempting Failure

The first and most serious reason why proposals fail is that you have been unable to identify and communicate the value of an engagement. This happens when you are not having deep, earnest conversations with the clients. You are only having surface-level conversations that do not inject a sense of urgency in clients. For instance, you are not showing them the costs and benefits of taking action now with you versus the costs of inaction.

The second reason proposals fail is that you have been unable to justify your fees. It is understandable that clients would be apprehensive about agreeing to a certain rate if they have no prior business history with you; it is not irrational of them to wonder if you can really deliver the things you are promising.

The final reason proposals fail is that clients—already busy with other work—are ultimately not willing to incur the risk of the big time investment that would come from accepting your proposal. Zipursky offers a solution that can work around this reason and the second reason for failure: make a discovery offer (also known as a “strategic review,” or “assessment,” etc.). Discovery offers are for shorter engagements (maybe just a one-to-two week examination of business), are inexpensive, and produce a tangible result at the end. So in a way, discovery offers are a pilot project to demonstrate your capability and get your foot in the door with risk-averse executives.

For other great ideas, view Zipursky’s video and an accompanying transcript here:

Show More