You’ve seen it played out a million times. It’s the big game and some Joe appears on the big screen holding up a ring saying, “Sally Mae, will you marry me?” The camera pans to embarrassed and pleased as punch Sally Mae who blurts out her “yes” to 150,000 cheering fans.

There’s the surprise dinner, the surprise party, the surprise group of Irish river dancers who stomp their way out of the park’s bushes as the guy hits his knees for the big question.

And how I ask you, how do these proposals generally turn out? With a YES! In fact, it’s pretty darn rare for a person under that kind of pressure to say “no”.

Tell me how you see this going. The guy writes a 10 page “report” on exactly how their future lives will go. He includes a time-line plotting key objectives such as first house, first child and first big job promotion. Then there’s some background information on the guy that the girl might not know such as how happy he has made previous girlfriends. That’s sure to help the cause.

The last page will be a set of terms of the proposal including an outline of wedding costs followed by a list of people who will gladly verify that everything in the proposal is, largely, true.

Okay, Sally Mae, what do you say?  Think about it? Call you in a couple weeks? Is romance dead?

Well then why oh why do we conduct business in the same boring fashion as when our grandparents were children?

Can’t a business proposal be just as exciting and just as original as a stunning marriage proposal? Why not?

Look, if you put a lot of time into writing proposals, you’re wasting a lot of billable hours. The prospect wants to know if you understand his need and if the cost of whatever you are proposing will return greater benefit than cost.

If you can’t answer that in 15 seconds, you’re dead. The rest, as you know if you ever get to “yes” is often forgotten after work begins. The prospects needs a time-line—when are you going to complete this? And how much will this cost me? You can present those two items visually. In other words, you don’t need 10 pages of text to say this is going to cost you $12,500. Make a visual.

Then come up with something creative to give that reassurance that you know what you’re doing. How about picture after picture of happy clients? What about a video testimonial from a similar case? Come on, a monkey can shoot a 2 minute video today with an off-the-shelf digital camera.

Just think about this, okay? Dump the proposals. Show some skin (talent).

Experiment with this and you’ll be out of the proposal business after your first try. Let the schlubs write proposals. You’re way too good for that.

Chris Reich