Consulting Proposals, Agreements and Attorney Advice

“I think I hit a nerve,” I said, when I wrote about Kate’s
agreement adventures with a young designer.”

Proposal vs Agreement

“What happened bre’r rabbit?” asked Bob.

“My phone and e-mail lit up with comments. You all know I’ve
worked with a number of attorneys…well a couple of them checked in along with
some management consultants, coaches and professional speakers…any way the most
outspoken members of the tribe.

Jim, an attorney, friend and former client said:

Here are
two contrarian thoughts about the last sentence in the post:

1. Any agreement to provide
services in exchange for money is a contract. Regardless of the label, putting
the deal in writing allows the parties to clearly state mutual expectations and
responsibilities up front.

2. The shorter a contract, the more
you need to make sure that it contains all essential terms, so don’t overlook
the value of having an attorney draft or review even one-page documents.

Gail said, ”Nice to see he picked up on the same thing I

“Meaning what?” Rick asked.

“Meaning that if it is important to the customer, then put
it in. If it isn’t leave it out.”

Rick replied, “Yes. That is why you do proposals so that you
can get all the mutual expectations and responsibilities on the table up front,
discuss them and put the ones you agree on in an agreement or like Fletch’s
friendly lawyer says, the contract.”

“It’s a process,” Bob said. Young’uns just don’t get it.
Tain’t their fault. Nobody ever shows you how to make grits you make a mess of
it ‘til you learn how. They go to school to learn a skill but nobody teaches
‘em how to run a business using that skill. They don’ know they need to
understand bookkeeping and marketing and how to turn a contact into a
contract. Trouble is they don’t get to trust before they start puttin’ boilerplate nonsense on paper. ”

“Fletch, didn’t you write a program called How to Turn Contacts into Contracts” asked Kate.

“Yes, I did. That program looks at how to ask the questions
that need to be asked by the service provider and how to determine what is
important to the prospect. But I think Rick and Bob really got at the heart of the

Youngsters are so eager and hungry they just want the deal signed rather than making sure everyone is on the same page. They forget that every relationship, short or long term, begins with trust.

How do we fix that?

Jerry Fletcher is an expert at business development. Learn more at

Jerry provides trust-based marketing programs on three continents Video of signature stories at www.Networking

What Is The Difference Between A Proposal And An Agreement?

Kate arrived late, fuming.

Proposal versus Agreement

I bit the bullet and asked, “What’s the problem?”

She poured a glass of wine from the bottle Bob had ordered
and sputtered, “How do you guys deal with freelancers all the time? More
importantly where are they getting these ridiculous ideas about who owns the
work you pay them for?”

“Fletch,” she said, “Don’t you dare try to sneak off!”

I slipped back into my chair and said, “Okay what ticked you
off?…no names please.”

“So when I asked this young designer for a project proposal
he came back with heavy dictation of dates and times for me to meet his
schedule and some garbage written by an attorney that makes me liable for
anything that goes wrong even if it his fault and no out clause!”

Bob refilled her glass and said, “Y’all don’t deal with
photographers much do you? You see, the lens men and women have been pulling
that in the Ad biz for a while now. There’s only one way round it and thas to
tell ‘em right up front that dog won’t hunt. It sounds to me like this young
whelp is a tad confused about the difference between a proposal and an

“The two are completely different,” said Gail. A proposal
spells out what you will do to help a client or prospect solve a problem. It
can include a time line but doesn’t have to. The agreement on the other hand
needs to include what you have agreed to do and when. It should have a specific
statement in it with regard to either party being able to quit the relationship
to include notification and how payment for the work to date will be handled.”

“The problem,” I put in, “Is that no one teaches new
freelancers or starting consultants or other entrepreneurs that render a
service how to cope with this stuff. What I usually tell them is this:

A proposal

  • Tells the prospect what you are going to do to
    solve the problem at hand.
  • It can but is not required to include how you
    will get to that solution
  • It can include a statement of when items will be
    delivered… a timeline.
  • On occasion it may say where the work will be
    done like when a computer technician makes house calls
  • And once in a while you might say who will
    perform the service

An Agreement

  • Defines the objectives the parties involved have
    mutually agreed to
  • Provides a specific time frame for the actions
  • Spells out the fees to be paid to the service
    provider to include the timing of those payments
  • Cites who is liable in case of default by either
  • Includes a way for either party to dissolve the
    with or without cause.

Rick cleared his throat and offered, “The truth is all of us
have to stop looking at this sort of thing like a lawyer about to pounce and
. We are working with clients to help them. We know some things they don’t
and we are willing to put that knowledge to work for them. We want to work with
them and they want to work with us. All you have to do is talk frankly about
projects, expectations and work out differences before you write an agreement.

I always say that If it is important to the customer, put it
in. If not, leave it out.

If an agreement gets longer than a page it becomes a
contract and you need to get lawyers involved
for that.”

What do you think?

What Does Your Trailer Look Like?

As I arrived I heard Bob saying to Kathy, “If y’all were
doing a preview of coming attractions for folks that hire you, what would your
trailer look like?

Movie trailerWould it be all quick cuts, flash and dance or sober as a
judge ‘fore the sun is over the yard arm?”

Kate said, “I’m so glad you’re finally here Fletch. You can
help me with the mental gymnastics this so-called southern gentleman is proposing.”

“No, No,” I said. I want to hear this answer…maybe more than
he does.”

Rick slid into a chair and said, “What answer? What is the

Bob said, “Y’all need to think about what our movie preview,
your trailer would look like if you were tryin’ to get someone who might hire
you all fired up about runnin’ with you. What sort of adventure or romance or
dramedy will get that horse into your barn?

Never you mind tha’s not how you get business now. Mah point
is to get you to see yourself from a different direction.

Heah’s the thing. Each of you is brand. Each of you is unique.
Each of you work directly with clients. The question is, what makes you
memorable and interesting and desireable and how can you get that across
rickety tick?

Y’all sit down in a movie house, watch a slew of previews
and make split second decisions about which movies you want to see. It has a
taste of the story and the music and the overall feel of the movie. They cram
bits ‘n pieces in there and make you want more.

 So what if y’all could do that with a prospect?”

I figure you could kick it off with some kinda positioning
statement. Then y’all might want to have some satisfied clients saying what it
was like and maybe some funny stuff and definitely music that would make them
think of you.”

Rick interrupted, “Have to include some credibility stuff and
if you want them to act right away some kind of offer or deal.”

“Kate,” I said, “Do you still think he’s being silly? Seems
to me that he’s found a way to get all of us out of our comfort zones and
figuring out how to pitch prospects faster and kick their emotions into gear to
help make a decision.

The fact is that our society is extremely visually oriented.
Showing people a demonstration is a trick you’ve talked about often enough. And
I still believe sampling can be a secret weapon and this fits into that. Rick
has convinced us that those long form commercials on TV actually make profits
and Chris keeps coming up with on-line stuff that gets closer and closer to
this with his landing page videos .

I think Bob deserves a hand for coming up with a way to look
at this that is familiar but strange.”

What does your trailer look like?

Jerry Fletcher has videos on two web sites that give you an idea of what it is like to work with him: Consulting at (3 videos) plus 4 videos on his Speaking web site: 

How Do Your Clients Decide To Buy?

“Aren’t you glad you’re not in retail? “ Rick said as he
threw his jacket over the back of his chair.

How clients buyGail looked over her glasses at him and asked, “What do you

“Well,” he said, “Imagine what it is like to have somebody
come into the store and ask about an item. You show it to them and explain the
features and how it compares with some other similar products. You even make
them an offer. But they don’t buy. Then you watch as they get on their smart
phone right outside your store and order it on-line.”

“Hold it!” Chris said.

He’s usually not that forceful so everyone stopped and
turned to him.

He went on, “That does happen but usually the reason is that
the buyer learned something about the product and now is back into a loop to
gather more information. He or she is not buying but getting more info and from
everything I’ve been able to find it is not price information that is the

“I agree totally,” Bob, our Brand man drawled, Brand will
get ‘em in the door but they got a passle o’ questions and if y’all tell ‘em too
much they are gonna be snout down in the feedin’ trough looking for another
morsel if you’re not careful.”

Kate snickered and said, “You do have a way with words, Bob.
And you’re right. People have more access to more information today than they
ever have and it makes it tough for sales representatives to get the order
whether it is consumer or business to business. But I can tell you from my
experience that successful salespeople put it to work for them.”

“How so?” I asked.

Fletch,” she said, “They stay on top of it. They do
searches to find out what happens when someone goes looking for their product
or service using a generic term.”

Chris piped up, “A keyword search?”

“Yes. And they go look at what comes up… both the paid and
unpaid stuff And if they are geographically restricted they check out nearby
competitors But B to B types have it easier. The searches done there are more
specific. They are more about verification of your existence and to get a
glimpse of personality from your website.”

“She’s right,” I said, “but the online character analysis
will also include a look at your social networking presence. They will review
your personal and business pages on Linked In, Facebook and Google Plus. Your
Persona needs to be consistent across those sites and consistent with your
website as well to begin to build enough trust that they will talk to you.”

Bob said, “I could say it’s all about brand but that is
really the sum total of what folks thing feel and believe about you and your
outfit and or offering. I reckon all the folks out there have a take on this.
You should ask them to comment, Fletch.”

You can join the conversation.  

Tell us how the internet has changed
how people buy your product or service and more importantly how you deal with that

Learn more about cross channel marketing at

Need a speaker who listens? 

Tapping Into Trust Research To Build A Practice

Trust-Based MarketingGail, our resident wordsmith sat down and said, “I read your
Trust and Professional Services Blog and I have a few bones to pick with you,

Before I could respond, Rob, Mr Branding, slid into an open
chair and chuckled saying, “That’s two of us darlin’. He’s always rockin’ on
the porch afore the money is in the bank.”

I said, “If I knew what that meant, I’d probably be

Chris and Kate arrived. He held her chair and then pulled up
another for himself and skooched in between the two ladies.

I held up both hands and said, “Before all of you start to
beat me up, I have to tell you that a pile of research landed in my e-mail this
week that you should all be aware of. It is an original study called How Buyers Buy done by the Hinge
Research Institute. They parsed the data and provided reports for four groups
of professionals:


and Financial Services

Engineering/ Construction Services


I brought copies. Have a look.”

Each of them took one report and began leafing through them.

I said, “Look at the page about finding alternatives. I can tell
you that all four studies confirm what I’ve been saying for years: Most people
turn to friends or colleagues when they need a professional of any kind.
Depending on the specialty they prefer information from their personal contacts
rather than an online search anywhere from 12 to 1 in one group down to 3 to 1.”

Gail, who had the Technology report grinned at Chris and
said, “Looks like your customers are at about 6 to 1. They trust the internet
more than most folks.”

Chris pointed to a similar page in the Management Consultant
report and said “But people looking for a management consultant are at a 3 to 1

I asked, “which group was at 12 to 1?”

Kate said, “Architecture, Engineering and Contracting.”

Rob piped up, “Skip ahead a few pages where they compare
buyers and sellers viewpoints about the best way to market. Only 4% of
Financial customers think social media is important. It is second from the
bottom of the list.

Pages ruffled and Chris said, “It is rock bottom for
management consultant prospects. And worse still 35% of the consultants think
it is important.”

“I figured you would all find this data interesting. We
could spend a week looking at it and making comparisons. Here are my takeaways:

  1. Do not
    assume you know how the customer wants to be marketed to. It varies by the
    type of professional they are seeking.
  2. Cost
    is not the most important variable in selection. Expertise and
    specialization is, along with your reputation.
  3. Clients
    can be very loyal if you deliver on your promises.
  4. If you
    want to sell them more or new products, develop a personal relationship
    and have regular face-to-face meetings.
  5. Current
    clients are the best referral sources but you have to ask.”

Rob cleared his throat and said, “Don’t forget Brand. The
way they look at it here is a combination of reputation and visibility. The
better both of yours are, the better off you’re gonna be. Reminds me of my
millionaire cousin Bobbie Jim who says the secret of his success is to stay
righteous, work like hell and advertise!”

Marketing Rain is easier to make when you put the facts in
your corner. Jerry’s approach is research based and innovative. Learn more
about it at

Jerry’s singular stories of his experiences in Networking,
Marketing and Customer Relationship Magic have motivated audiences on three
continents. See videos at

Trust Is How People Pick Professional Services

Trust ToolsI told the group how Bill, a client, asked over lunch if I
recalled the e-mail he had forwarded from someone offering SEO Services. His
questions were, “Was that Spam and should I do some optimization on my website?”

Chris, our young internet guru said, “What did you tell him
and do you need an SEO expert?”

I told him, “It depends and probably.”

Kate, back from her latest sales consulting trip to the bay
area jumped in with both feet. She blurted, “It really depends on what kind of
business he’s in. If he’ a plumber he’ll do better on Angie’s list but if he is
in any kind of professional consulting business he should be thinking about a
long list of more proactive things. For instance:



Linked In for connections

personalized e-mails or letters to purchased lists

            Maybe using
Facebook…but very carefully


I added, “Don’t forget the Trust Building Tools:





I believe it all comes down to, a simple question: How do
people pick the professional services they use?”

Kate answered, “Some people say it is generational and there
is some evidence of that but I really believe it is a combination of the
person’s age, their familiarity with technology and the services they are
looking for plus the degree of trust required before an agreement is reached.”

“I agree, I said, one of my clients is a management
consultant. She knows that she needs to speak and write to be perceived as an
expert. Her web site and her Linked In profile need to confirm that and provide
testimonials that lead to sufficient trust to get to a face-to-face meeting.”

“Right,” she said, “but a friend of mine who is a Certified
Financial Professional has it a little tougher. He tells me he can’t use
endorsements on his we site or Linked In profile because of an SEC regulation.
He speaks and teaches and writes like the management consultant. His newsletter
is essential to maintaining a relationship with current clients and some
prospects. I told him that a blog and using the new rel=author tag capability
from Google would be helpful. I also suggested that he sign up for the premium
services with Linked In and start really mining that source.”

Chris gave that a thumbs up and put in, “Either of them
might consider some advertising on Linked In because you can target by
profession and geography among several other things. But make sure the profile
and the website are in sync before you run an ad and that you know exactly how
you are going to handle inquiries.”

The check arrived. I agreed to get it if everyone thought
about this question and came back with more ideas when we next met.

Learn more about how professionals can get to Trust to build
their business at

Motivate the professionals in your organization
with an appearance by an international professional speaker. See video at

Do You Really Want Information At Light Speed?

“Internet access,” I said to Gail’s Question.

Light speed accessShe had asked, “Why is it that people want marketing and
sales information lightning fast these days?”

Rick and Chris both agreed with me.

“Yes, but what about proven or sure or accurate?” she asked.

That’s when Rob drawled, “Bein’ wrong will get y’all’s brand

“So,” I said, “how do you propose to get around that

Gail nodded and waited for Rob to go on.

He continued, “Story. Human bein’s are conditioned to listen
to stories from sumthin’ as simple as Brer Rabbit to the Bard’s dramas. Y’all
tell a good story about what you’re selling and touch the emotions of the
prospect and give them a picture they can put themselves in. Connect with ‘em
and I guarantee that dog will hunt.”

Rick countered, “Long copy. You can give someone the quick
bullet points but in order to get them to sign on the doted line or go to a
cart…to convince them your deal is better to meet their needs you need to use
long copy so you can respond to their desires and interests and objections.”

Chris spoke up, “And if it is on a web site you have to make
it as easy as possible for them to sort it all out and get the information they
want in the form they prefer.”

I jumped in saying, “So that means audio and video or photos
and charts and graphs whatever the prospect wants, right?

But, I think the kind of information they are searching for
makes a difference. Don’t get me wrong. If your end game is to sell something
all your suggestions apply. To convince and persuade you need to use all those

The one place I see a difference is in how-to information.
There lightning fast answers are not enough. You might leave out safety
information or not include an accuracy check and put someone in danger.

People do want fast information but the amount and length of
how to videos on You Tube convince me that people want it both ways and will
spend the time to look at both.”

Gail said, “That’s why your Marketing Without Money TM
products have Audios, Videos workbooks and checklists and even wallet sized
reminder cards, isn’t it?”


Trust-based Marketing Consulting that builds business,
careers and lives of joy.

Riveting motivational speeches on Networking, Marketing and
Customer Relationship Magic