How to Execute That Proposal: How Much Does the Client Need to Know?

How much should you tell a client about how you will execute your proposal? If you tell them too little, they may lose confidence in your ability to do the job. If you tell them too much, will they steal your idea and do it themselves?

I’ve come across this one many times from seminar participants. It’s the fear that a client will take my idea, and if they really like it, execute it themselves. Does it happen? Sometimes. Has it happened to me? Not that I am aware of. Nonetheless, that fear can stop someone from pursuing a great opportunity. I believe that fear is overblown. I also believe that most clients have ethical standards that reflect values of integrity. I don’t work with clients that lack integrity.

It’s said that there are no new ideas under the sun; just the re-creation, re-working and re-development of ideas that have been around for centuries – a new slant on an old theme. So what should you do when you have a proposal to present to the client, they love your idea, and now want to know how you are going to execute? First of all, you’ve had to work it out yourself. I’ve been involved in several different new car reveals; a hidden vehicle crashes through a screen, a celebrity drives the vehicle on stage, a Broadway-style cast gives a musical introduction. My point? When you’ve worked it out, and you’ve tested it and know that it works, the client needs a solid explanation. It’s important because the client is always involved in the action. They need to be confident that you know what you’re doing. If they’ve worked with you before and know your capabilities, they may not want as much detail.

New clients always want more assurance. They have a hundred questions about execution. How will it affect them? How will it impact the audience? It may only be a sales training seminar, but how will it be set up? How will I know that it’s working? You’re going to shoot a video. Will there be a host? Will I have to appear? As you can gather, the client’s fear is “how will this affect me?” They don’t have the expertise, or the time, or the staff to execute the proposal, let alone steal the idea. That’s why they hire you. As long as the client is satisfied that you have execution expertise, they’ll be happy.

There is one area that might be of concern, and it’s this. A client asks for proposals to produce a sales meeting. They receive half a dozen bids. One of these is a standout and will win the bid. However, another firm has one really great idea that the client would like to incorporate in the winning proposal. The ethical answer is to get permission to use this idea. Some firms, however, will sidestep this and simply tell the winning bidder that they want this particular idea included.

To sum up, tell the client what they need to know in executing your proposal. Any fears that they will steal your idea are overblown. The reason the client hires you is because you have expertise that they don’t have. They do not want to be concerned about execution; just satisfied that you can do the job.

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