Image Alt

Our Proposal Was Rejected, So We Lowered Our Price

Our Proposal Was Rejected, So We Lowered Our Price

A prospective client just turned down our bid for a new website, and ended up getting our team for a lower cost. Here’s why:

How many time have you, either as a representative of your business or as a representative of your family, received an initial quote for services and never responded due to a higher-than-expected price?

This has become common practice. Perhaps it’s a byproduct of the growing “gig economy” that has spawned the likes of Fiverr and Thumbtack. Or, it’s the result of a new generation of professionals that is not quite as prone to bartering as our baby boomer predecessors.

There are many factors in play, but what I’ve experienced here at Mindbrew is that many companies fall into two categories when searching for a new vendor:

  1. They’re putting out feelers at a macro level via a RFP and are basing their decision solely on cost. OR,
  2. They’ve identified value in a preferred vendor, but they give up too easily.

If I put together a list of all of the bids we’ve put together that did not directly result in us signing up a prospective client, you’d see that we do not receive a single piece of correspondence of any kind from over 50% after our proposal documents go out.

I’m not mad! Everyone is 100% entitled to choose the best agency for them and run their company the way they want. I believe that we are not the best partner for every business.

But I also believe that for those who chose to contact Mindbrew out of a sense of perceived value, and then flee at the sign of a higher-then-expected project cost are leaving a lot on the table, and are also forgetting why they may have reached out in the first place.

I say this with confidence. Because that other 50%, the ones who weren’t fully aligned with our initial proposal for one reason or another, they called us back. And of this other 50% of rejected proposals, about 90% of them end up with team Mindbrew in the end – without imploding their budgets.

This happened just recently with a local business who reached out to my team for a new website.

They had done their research and contacted Mindbrew with a request for a proposal on a new website. We obliged and sent them a game plan that would give them the type of website and additional services (some on-site photography) that we knew would help achieve the goals they had shared with us.

But I also believe that for those who chose to contact Mindbrew out of a sense of perceived value, and then flee at the sign of a higher-then-expected project cost are leaving a lot on the table, and are also forgetting why they may have reached out in the first place.

After reading our initial proposal they informed us that we were above their intended budget. Not completely out of the ballpark, but well above. This happens, and we don’t expect to win every proposal. BUT, what happens next is what writes the rest of the story.

They were transparent with us, shared their intended budget, and asked if there was any way we could get closer to that number.

Well, there was. And for anyone who runs a service-oriented business, I probably don’t have to tell you this.

From my end, the value of a contract goes well beyond monetary amounts.

I need to make sure we’re covered (of course), and our business is healthy, but we have goals of our own. For some projects, the value of that client on our list of past clients after the project is more than enough. If we put together a proposal for Nike and they came back asking for a 10% reduction in cost, I’m doing it! I want to slap that swoosh on my website!

In other cases, such as the one with this local business, I knew that a slight reduction in our costs – paired with a commitment on their end to relieve our team of items like heavy copywriting and other asset retrieval – could eventually equal an active referral stream from a happy client whose own client network was highly valuable to me and Mindbrew. This job would equal more pre-sold prospects, and that far outweighs a single contract.

I share this knowing all-too-well the possible reactions. But before you go thinking that our pricing doesn’t hold water or we set ourselves up for being under-valued, let me make something very clear.

Every single time Mindbrew fulfills a RFP or puts together our own proposal for a prospective client, we include exactly what we believe, as experienced professionals in brand development and design, to be the winning formula to achieve the goals the client has enlisted us for. So if someone says, “Hey, we were looking to spend _____ less on this project, let’s cut out A, B, and C,” they are typically not going to be a fit for our team.

We want clients who see the value in our recommendation, our strategy, our experience. In the example I shared above, we were able to find a way to lower our prices slightly to get closer to their target budget without sacrificing the on-site photography services we included in the initial proposal. Doing so would have completely undermined our reputation as experts. If I told you a week ago that the way to achieve your goals included professional photography, but am now readily willing to slash that line item at the first scent of cost change…am I really interested in achieving your goals?

This is what it all boils down to. Whether it is a creative agency like Mindbrew or a tree removal service you need for your home; if you’ve identified your preferred vendor and their initial proposed cost is above your target number, TELL THEM. Chances are, if you are close enough to be reasonable or can pivot the scope of work a small degree, you can still get a contract out of them. I’m flattered when someone is willing to come to the table with a counter-offer conversation. It tells me they value me and my team, and it shows me that they know what will make their business more successful.

If you are looking for a creative partner to lead a website build, brand design, or marketing strategy, please email us at And hey, don’t be afraid to show your cards, I just laid mine out for all to see.