It’s fair to say I’m struggling to know how best to name these posts. I think I’ll stick with this iteration. Sorry, I digress. Although digressing would mean that I’d spoken about something else first. Allow me to proceed…

Getting back to grips with ‘new business’

A new email hits the inbox. Subject line ‘Enquiry’. Oh yes, here we go!

Hello sir/madam,

I am Dave from, an offshore supplier of SEO services and we can get you’re sight on top of Google, Alta Vista and Yahoo…

Awwww! Bubble burst.

When you’re out there selling your services, simple things like the word ‘enquiry’ in a subject line can really get you excited. The thrill of the chase. Endless opportunities. When they’re legitimate, the mind starts racing and you can’t wait to start writing that all-important proposal. That’s the end game though, there has to be more that comes in advance of that PDF winging it’s way to the potential client.

Coffee time

There really should be a meeting before any proposal or quote is offered. That could be via Skype, or face-to-face. My preference is the later, however, due to geographical reasons, isn’t always possible. Why do I want to meet? After all, these meetings are taking up consultancy time I could be selling.

  • To make sure we get on – you can’t have a constructive consultancy relationship if there’s not the right ‘chemistry’
  • To find out as much about the business, its people and problem as possible, from the ‘horse’s mouth’. If the horse isn’t available, a human will do.
  • Establish if I’m the right fit for their needs – if not, I’ll state that before we go our separate ways.


I prefer to meet only in places with rustic wood tables…

Inevitably, I end up giving away a fair bit of advice in these meetings. I used to struggle with that, however, I now just take it on the chin, you need show value at that stage or the chances of the relationship progressing are minute. Once that meeting has taken place, and both parties have agreed that the next step should be a formal proposal, it’s time to be on my merry way and get said proposal written.

Two pages

This is the biggest thing I’ve changed since the first iteration of Velocity – my proposals are two pages in length. In the past, I’ve spent hours and hours working up proposals and had often wondered about the necessity for this. Since bringing Velocity back three weeks ago, I’ve written 12 proposals, none of which breaks the two page barrier. In each case, I asked the person if a brief summary of the problem that needs solved, how I’ll help them to do that and how much it will cost would be ok – every single one has said ‘yes’.

This is possible due to the discussion we have in the initial meeting, we’re qualifying a lot of what would be included in a lengthly proposal, in a far more interesting way than a massive document. There are two exceptions here; if we can’t meet, the proposal will naturally be longer, and if it’s a pitch scenario, then the initial proposal and presentation usually requires a lengthier approach.

So far, this approach is working well, in fact, if we’re looking at conversion rates, I’ve hit 65% as of today. Nice.

The thrill of the chase

I love it. It’s exciting creating these relationships and seeing where they lead. It’s only a painful process if you make it one.

Until next week! You can catch up on the rest of the diary here.

What are your thoughts on the new business process? Do share in the comments below, or tweet me @mike_mcgrail!


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