Consultants and Service Professionals – Should You Put an Expiration Date on Your Proposals?
Professionals and consultants who write proposals might wonder if they should be a deadline on their proposals, or if they should make the proposal open-ended.
I’d suggest you always put an expiration date on your proposals. Here are six reasons why you should.
Six Good Reasons to Put an Expiration Date on Your Proposals
1. It creates a call to action and a sense of urgency. The prospect realizes she must act by a certain date or the offer will disappear or new terms could apply.
2. It gives you are reason to contact the client to move ahead with the project. You could call the prospect a week before the deadline and ask if she has questions about the proposal and remind her that the deadline is approaching.
3. It helps you plan your activity. If all your proposals were to be accepted during the same week, you might find that you have more work than you can handle. By adding a deadline, you’ll know which proposals are active and which are languishing.
4. It protects you in case you need to raise rates. If your fees rise, or if the price of your supplies increases, you’ll be glad you added this deadline as a form of insurance. For example, if gas prices increased, would you be able to do the job for the same amount of money and make the same amount of profit? If your landlord raised the rent, wouldn’t you want to have the ability to raise your rates as well so you aren’t locked into a contract that has lower rates?
5. It makes you look like a professional. Adding a date shows that you are a serious business and that you are willing to walk away from the offer if your terms aren’t met. Remember to have some self-respect. We all want business but we should never be in a position to be taken advantage of.
6. Establishing boundaries is always a good idea in a business relationship. Setting deadlines for action shows the prospect that you are an equal business partner, whose work and experience should be valued.
Sample language for your deadline
I guess I should put in the standard disclaimer to check with your attorney when you put anything into a proposal or contract, but with that said, here is sample language your could use in your proposal, or run by your attorney.
“Terms, fees and conditions are valid for 30 days from the date of this proposal.”
It is short and sweet. It says what it needs to say and doesn’t impose any sense of judgment or pressure on the client. Yet it clearly says what you want it to mean. Of course, you could use whatever time limit you desire, either 30 days, 60 days, 90 days or whatever you like.
If you follow these steps, you’ll have a better idea of where you stand with proposals and prospects so you can run your business more effectively.