Are a pitch and a proposal the same thing?

Are a pitch and a proposal the same thing? Due to my experience writing proposals and my done-for-you pitch boss service package, I get asked this question, a lot.  And typically, I say no, a pitch and a proposal are not the same. They are, however, two parts of a clear new client sales funnel.

What is the difference between a pitch and a proposal?

On a basic level, I think of a pitch as an introduction and a proposal as a contract.

In a pitch, you’ve distilled your unique value into a short email or presentation designed to introduce you and your skill set to a new potential client.

With a pitch, you’re not necessarily selling anything. You’re presenting what you have to offer and why you’re essentially amazing and the absolute best person to work with them.

A proposal comes after a successful pitch. You send a proposal with EXACTLY what you’re going to do.  How you’re going to do it and WHY you’re going to use that specific approach to get the job done. Then you give them a price.



Do you have to use a pitch and a proposal?

A lot of freelancers are just so eager for work that when they pitch and get an interview, they agree to just about any rate as long as they can get work.

Ok, when you’re first starting out, perhaps there’s a small window when that level of complacency is acceptable.

But after you get your first few clients, being complacent is no longer acceptable.

So yes, you need to have a pitch and a proposal for the simple fact that you need to first introduce yourself and meet the potential client to learn exactly what they want.

This is an interview. It’s also called a discovery conversation. You’re discovering if you’re a good fit.  You discuss the work and the client’s budget.  Then you offer to put together a proposal— based on the work the client stipulated—to show schedule, approach, and pricing.

You present the proposal within 24-48 hours of your discovery conversation. You also include your terms and conditions in your proposal, making it similar to a contract.  And if the client agrees to your proposed approach, pricing, and terms and conditions, then they’ll sign it and you’ll sign it, sealing a clear understanding between the two of you.

So, while you don’t NEED to use a pitch and a proposal, they complement each other.  They both give you the space to present yourself, your company, and your custom solution to your client in a way that serves you and gives the client the transparency they need to trust you.

How do you write a proposal?

Writing a proposal is about your client. In your proposal, you’ve got to prove three things.

  1. Understand. You need to prove that you understand what they want and what they need.
  2. Deliver. Explain that you have the best approach to give them what they want/need and based on your understanding of them, this is how their specific approach will support them AND help them do the thing they ultimately want to do. And this should always include a discussion of schedule.
  3. Price. Your price isn’t just a number.  It’s a discussion of your value. And the lowest price isn’t always the best price. The best price is a price that represents the value you’re delivering. So if you do a good job with steps 1 and 2, your price needs no explanation.

Creating a pitch and a proposal is the business development or new client funnel to your next client.  Both aspects—the pitch and the proposal—of the new client funnel are equally important and while a pitch and a proposal are not the same things, they definitely lead to the same place: new clients and more business. And if you’re a digital nomad, more business means more money to travel!

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