Proposal writing is an art in itself. You have to ensure that you are selling your client’s services/products without sounding like it’s a sale pitch. However, as anyone who has worked in the capture planning arena, writing a good proposal doesn’t guarantee that you will always win the contract. Before I begin writing, I always ask my clients what is the chance that they will win. As I stated in my “How to Write a Winning Proposal” e-book, you have to ensure that you have done your homework and built a rapport with the contract’s stakeholders. It is easier said than done, so you have to really be 85% (better make it 90%) sure that you are in the running to win the contract. Even if you write the most fabulous proposal, it won’t matter if you were not even a contender.
With that said, this is the reason that I do not accept getting paid if and after the client wins the contract. There have been a few companies who have approached me, and indicated that they didn’t have the funds to pay me right now, but they would give me 3-5% of the contract winning bid. I decline. If they win, hurray! If they don’t win, then all my efforts would have been for nothing. There could be numerous reasons why they don’t win the contract, and it has nothing to do with my proposal-writing skills. Therefore, to be on the safe side, I’d rather not get into this type of pay agreement.
My way of getting paid is usually asking for 50% up front, and then getting the last 50% when my client has reviewed and approved my work. These usually include as many revisions as the client wants. I am very confident in my work, so I do not expect there to be more than two revisions, even if that. This ensures that you get some type of compensation for the effort that you will be taking in writing the best proposal out there.
I also like to offer incentives for things like if the client will be giving me repeat work, or providing me supporting documentation in a timely manner. You will sometimes run into the problem where the client is not giving you the information on time. Therefore, by offering a 10% discount, it will make them want to get the material to you as soon as possible. If the client is going to have you write two or more of their proposals, then why not offer some type of discount? In the end, you are making more money and getting a loyal client base.
It is up to your discretion if you don’t mind getting paid after the client wins the contract and getting a percentage of the winning bid. However, if you decide to do that, I recommend that you do your own homework and figure out what is the likelihood that they will actually win.
When writing proposals, what are the ways you prefer to get paid?